Friday, February 16, 2007

Finding Food in Chacala

Even before I started my life in Chacala, I was always a “picky” eater. I think it was a strategy I used to deal with my Mom. A strategy I never outgrew, even when it became a problem for me in my adult life. It’s hard to go out to dinner at someone’s house when you don’t like lots of foods: like onions and garlic, for example. Or coconut, or pasta. This is an ex-governor's house. He went to prison for various neferious activities.
The building is for sale, if you are interested.
And it's even harder in Mexico. But I never really thought much about being so picky about what I ate, or about what is was like for other people to deal with my ridiculous food issues. It wasn’t like I asked for different food at dinner parties, I just didn’t eat what I didn’t like, or thought I didn’t like. That was rude and unappreciative of my friends cooking efforts, but I never saw it that way. And it never occurred to me I could broaden my food preferences. Some French people are travelling with this cute little trailer.
Actually, there were many foods I didn’t like to eat, but which I had never actually tasted. I don’t know how I decided I didn’t like food I had never tasted, but I did.
But things changed for me when I got to Chacala. Not only were most of my favorite foods unavailable, but even worse, people kept offering me food I didn’t want to try.

Refusing food offered by a friend in Mexico is rude. Much ruder than in my previous life. Partly because sharing food is a very generous act here, where most people in Chacala remember very clearly not having enough food. This is Francisco, who owns two grocery stores
in Chacala with his wife Angelica
It was hard for me to not want to eat some of the food that was offered to me. And sort of strange, I think, for people who live here. OftenI didn’t usually eat what I was offered. It was usually Mexican standards that were offered: rice, beans, posole, tamales, occasionally enchiladas, and food with onions and garlic. It was very awkward and I didn’t handle it very well. I know I didn’t make a very good impression with local people. Most of the concrete mixed in Chacala is mixed by hand.
But there is the occasional cement mixer.
At Chico’s, the only restaurant I ever ate at during my first few years in Chacala, they knew what to cook for me. Fish filet and fresh tomatoes or cheese quesadillas. It took awhile for them to realize I wasn’t going to eat the white rice or beans. But they eventually got used to my weird eating habits. And I finally started reconsidering how my life-long stance as a “picky” eater was limiting my life and insulting my new friends.

I gradually am taking more and more chances with my food choices. When people offer me bites of food, I almost always take a bite now. Except for onion and garlic-laden food. And sometimes I really like it. Someone offered me a bite of a sweet dessert thing a few days ago, and I really liked it. And several months ago I ordered a chicken quesadilla at Mars Tres. I didn’t expect to eat it, but felt I had to order something for some reason. But I took a bite and really liked it. They didn’t onion it up, and it tasted great. They cost 16 pesos, and one fills me up. So when I eat out now, it’s usually at Mars Tres, except when I have delicious grilled fish at Chico’s. A Chacala family
My food trip is gradually changing, and I am taking more chances, and I am glad. I was embarrassed about being so picky, but I couldn’t seem to help it. I am still really picky, but I am more flexible about food than when I first came to Chacala, and I am glad.

1 comment:

Tomas Dennis said...

I am a picky eater, no onions or garlic for me. I can eat tacos if the onions are cooked so they disappear and their flavor is mild. I eat a lot of grilled cheese sandwiches, fresh corn and tomatoes. I can eat garden fresh or steamed vegetables. Don't bother to cook or fry them because I'll just ignore them; I do love cheese, beans and tortillas. I miss the Mexican breads of my childhood in California which are not available here where I live.
Everyone enjoys the photos you place online of the folk in Chacala. The folks there will some day say that is what Chacala looked like in 2007?