Juan of Words

Raising A Bilingual Kid: Pozole, Frijoles and Indian Curry

Niño disgustado

Every time we sit down to break bread it’s always the same thing.  I don’t want that.  What is that?  I don’t know what that is, so I don’t like it. If we happen to be eating something like menudo or nopales, anything unfamiliar to him that he is trying for the first time, Edgar will come up with any or as many excuses as he can to not touch it.  Immediately, the back and forth ensues.  Us arguing that he should just give it a try.  He saying that it won’t go down if he puts it in his mouth.  ¡Entonces no tienes hambre! …we’ll finally yell and he’ll take off, all upset, away from the table.

A couple minutes later, there he comes, ready to give it a try… or pleading once again to get a happy meal or something equally non-ethnic that he “knows” he will enjoy.

More often than not, unfortunately for him, Edgar won’t have a choice but to sit down and literally try to stomach as much of our food as he possibly can.  If we see he can’t take it, we’ll break down and make him a sandwich or something just as bland.

This is particularly bothersome to me because I am the first one to poor Valentina sauce on everything I eat.  “Food just doesn’t taste like anything if it isn’t spicy,” I always say, and I guess in a way I’d like for him to feel the same way about “our” food.  Mexican food that is.  It’d make me feel like I was doing something right if Edgar started asking for hot sauce with everything he eats.  Anjelica, my wife, on the other hand, would be horrified to learn her little boy was “turning into a man” by eating all that chile.  As you can imagine, we go back and forth.  She being more lenient about him eating what I want him to eat, and me always thinking of new ways that I can trick him into eating something new… that I want him to enjoy, even if it is only for my sake.

So far we’ve managed to get him to like pozole, frijoles, cóctel de camarones, flautas, even pupusas, Indian curry, Vietnamese pho, vermicelli, spring rolls, and a host of other ethnic entrees, not the least of which is any Chinese cuisine, by far his favorite.  The not so popular, still anything spicy.  Yet the other day when Edgar and I were driving back from running errands, we stopped in at a local taqueria to grab a bite to eat.  We both ordered a couple of tacos and some Horchata. When the waitress came back with our food, he sat there for a second, not saying anything, just looking at his plate.  What’s wrong? I asked with my taco in my hand, just about to take the first bite.  Pass me the hot sauce, he said, all cool, calm and collected, like I should have known better… that he likes his tacos spicy too.

After picking up my jaw from the table, I obliged, handing over the little molcajete of homemade salsa and watching as he took two tiny scoops and sprinkled them, ever so carefully, on all of his three tacos.

He didn’t pour nearly as much fiery goodness as I did, but I won’t pretend the tear in the corner of my eye wasn’t all about his bravery as my little man.  

This is the third post in the Raising A Bilingual Kid series.  To read the first two posts in the series, just click on the links (Raising A Bilingual Kid: Ballet Folklórico) and (Raising A Bilingual Kid: Skinny Jeans And Converse).

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