Ask a Mexican

Dear Mexican: All Mexican food is the same

Dear Mexican: What is with the many gringos/gabachos who constantly slaughter Spanish words? Spanish is easy to pronounce (and spell) compared to English. The vowels (a, e, i, o, u) are always pronounced the same way. In English, vowels vary a lot — difficult for new learners. All of the other alphabet letters are pronounced the same way, except for a few, such as j (guttural-sounding) and x (like the aspired j). But h is always silent, y is like i, and double l is pronounced "yah." And don't get me started about how common expressions like "vamonos" became "mosey." Or how "calaboso" became "calaboose" and "vaquero" became "buckaroo," etc.
Llámame Frustrado

Dear Call Me Frustrated: Don't be too hard on gabachos. You simplify Spanish a bit much. (Don't forget that x sounds like ch when placed at the beginning of words, that we love to elide — try getting a gaba to translate "No, pos 'ta pa'lla" — and that trilling your r's ain't exactly easy.) In fairness, Americans do know Mexican Spanish, from borracho to chichis to chica caliente to guac, tortas and chimis. And the recently concluded World Cup taught American sports fans the wonder that is "Eh...PU-TO!" ("Hey...FAG-GOT!"), chanted at the opposing portero after every goal kick. All other non-Mexicans in los Estados Unidos will slowly learn Spanish as their numbers decline and Mexicans increase; after all, they don't want to be economically retarded like non-English-speaking Mexicans, do they? Besides, the only gabachos who should already know Spanish are those who live in the American Southwest — but they've only had about 165 years to learn it, so give them a break.

Dear Mexican: As far as I can tell, Mexican food is all the same thing, based on one simple concept. Take a tortilla, lay it out open-faced, pile it with meat, lettuce, tomato and maybe some cilantro, and it's called a tostada. Fold it in half and it's a taco. Roll it up and it's a burrito. Throw the burrito in the deep fryer and you have a chimichanga. The only REAL choice anybody has with Mexican food besides the amount of hot sauce is the tortilla (corn or flour) and the kind of meat. Is that all that Mexico could come up with for its cooking heritage?
Culinary Boredom in Salinas

Dear Gabacha: Wow, what did tortillas ever do to you? Not only are you pendeja, but you're retrependeja. For chrissakes, you don't even know the Mexican-food writings of your hometown hero, John Steinbeck. When he was going around the country while writing Travels With Charley, the Homer from Salinas wrote to his wife that he had prepared a bowl of posole (he called it "pissoli"), which doesn't involve tortillas (though it can) or meat (though it can). He also loved Bohemia beer, writing "Ah, Bohemia beer and the Pyramid of the Sun; entire civilizations have created less." Finally, tamales make many appearances in his works, from Tortilla Flat to The Pastures of Heaven and more. Besides, what's gabacho food if not bread, a choice of meat and gallons of corn syrup?

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Gustavo Arellano
Contact: Gustavo Arellano