I’VE eaten some amazing dishes in the last two weeks.
I’ve also eaten some weird things which I didn’t know whether to consume, or flush.
“What’s this?” I ask sat around the dinner table.
“Mole” Jacky’s mum replies.
“Er...” cue smile followed in quick succession by confused look.
“Um, muy bien... que... por que... como... Oh what the hell, sounds good to me”.
It’s black, it has the consistency of mashed baked beans and it tastes like chilli and chocolate.
Oh, and it’s served over chicken.
It could be a lot worse.
Another favourite dish over here is chicharron – known to you and I as pork scratchings.
Apparently chicharron is a dish which has been around since forever in Mexico.
While we know chicharron from the weird taste in our mouths the morning after a good night out at the pub, over here the pig skin (because that’s what it is right?!) is boiled and served with a kind of tomato sauce – and of course chilli, LOTS of chilli.
I think this is the only dish I’ve tried over here which I don’t like.
Crunchy pork scratchings when drunk = good sooooo good.
Soft and sludgy pork scratchings when sober = bad.
I’m even enjoying eating cactus, which is once again boiled, but served as a meal’s accompaniment like green beans.
It doesn’t really taste of anything, and it doesn’t give you the hallucinogenic effect I was half expecting.
Of all the dishes I’ve tried the classic ‘Mexican’ dishes still take some beating.
Traditional quesadillas rock my world. As do the tortillas.
Jacky’s mum also creates this amazing dish which is basically scrambled eggs with chorizo sausage and grated cheese on top.
She is a very VERY good cook.
Just about everything smells and tastes good. Even the street taco stands produce some pretty good meals for a few pesos.
And the Mexican almond shower gel smells good enough to eat.
When I bring Jacky to the UK later this year for a short holiday (that’s the plan), I’m sure she will look at the menu of Arriba’s or Lorenzo’s – or that of any other Mexican restaurant – and laugh.
Real Mexican food is so far removed from what I knew before I arrived here it’s hard to fathom how it can actually be described as being even slightly authentic.
It’s like our pasty – in any other country it’s just NOT a pasty. It’s pastry with meat and veg in.
The staple ingredient of any dish here – whether it be a main meal, a packet of crisps, or even a candy bar – is chilli.
Every single meal has chilli in it, and there’s fresh chilli in salsa present on the table at every meal time.
I swear Jacky would have salsa or chilli on her cornflakes if she ate breakfast.
Jacky also took great delight in introducing me to Tamarindo candy which is basically made from a fruit called tamarind, and... surprise suprise, chilli.
Yes, that is the picture of the fruit. Looks like it should be 'flushed' right?
You know that expression your face pulls when you’re not expecting to be repulsed so much? Well, that’s the expression my face pulls whenever Jacky tricks me into trying the same product in different packaging.
It is, put simply, rank.
This is not the face of pleasure
While my Spanish is improving daily I‘ve still been caught out on more than one occasion in recent days.
For instance beaming with pride in myself for successfully asking for and ordering a cafe con leche (coffee with milk) and un rollo de canela (a cinnamon Danish) at a cafe shop, I was almost immediately brought back down to earth.
“Caliente?” the girl behind the till asked.
I replied “Tristan,” thinking that she’s asking me for my name to write on the paper coffee cup.
She was in fact asking me if I want the Danish ‘hot’.
So what did I do? What does an Englishman do when abroad and asked a question he doesn’t understand in a foreign language...?
Answer: I repeated my name again only louder just in case she didn’t hear me the first time around.
I have an awful lot to learn.