April 20, 2006
I was a chaperone for Hands Across the Border, a student exchange program in Arizona and Mexico. Us parents got to go first to scope out the situation. On the long bus ride down I looked forward to an authentic Mexican lunch. When we finally stopped at a taqueria I was close to starvation. I ordered three tacos, sat down with my plate, and eagerly bit into one. Oh my gosh! Quick! Spit it out! The food was rotten. The other parents were happily engorging on their fare, and when they noticed that I wasn't eating they asked what is wrong. Miserable and hungry, I told them my food was rotten. It tasted like how rotten potatoes smell. One of them took my plate and smelled it. Yum, she said, and took a bite. This tastes great, was her conclusion. It's rancid, I countered. Oh, that's just the cilantro, everyone explained. You'll get used to it. No I won't. Instead, I learned how to say, Tres tacos SIN cilantro, por favor. Ciudado, hombre. Tengo mucho alergias. No cilantro o esta el muerto por mi. Get used to it, my eye.