03 July 2009

Meal Time


It is exactly one month to the day since I crossed the border.

I get a bit better acquainted every day with what is actually going on here and how Mexicans carry on their day to day lives. It is quite often their little variations on life that I find most interesting. Meals and meal times are undertaken quite differently here.

First of all, I have finally figured out that Mexicans do not operate on a three-meal-per-day routine. Rather, they eat many times during the day. I think it fair to say that the usual routine is a minimum of four meals per day.

They do a breakfast, but it is nothing like an American breakfast of fried eggs and hashed browns. Their preference is for a light breakfast consisting of coffee and pastry, and they quite often pick those things up at a street stand at around 8:00 am to 10:00 am.

Their big meal of the day is their lunch, which they take later in the afternoon than we would—somewhere between 1:00 and 4:00. However, at some point between that light breakfast and lunch, they hit a street stand or café for a snack to get them through, commonly a taco. They have a separate word for this snack after breakfast and before lunch, which is really a separate meal.

So many folks are eating that big lunch between 2:00 and 4:00 pm that many of the smaller Mexican stores and businesses just close down for awhile.

Lastly, you see the Mexicans eating a light dinner anywhere from 8:00 pm up to midnight. If you see folks eating in a restaurant at 6:00 p.m. here, they are usually Americans. For me this explains those light, light Mexican breakfasts. The fact is that first thing in the morning it has not been that long since they ate their late—by my standards—dinners.

You know something? This schedule is working just fine for me.

I mentioned earlier that there is no such thing as a Mexican breakfast incorporating fried eggs or scrambled eggs or the like. Mexicans use a LOT of eggs in their cooking but not in that way. What I am saying is that Mexicans do not go into a restaurant and order eggs.

The Spanish word for eggs is huevos. Unfortunately, the Mexican people also use the word huevos as slang for “testicles.” Therefore, one's use of the word huevos can be the source of great frivolity down here. For example, if one were to go into a restaurant in the morning and tell the waiter that you would like some huevos, he might have trouble keeping a straight face. It would be like saying, “I would like some balls.” I am talking about true Mexican restaurants now, not restaurants that cater to Americans.

Consequently, Mexicans have their own preferred word for eggs so that they themselves can avoid being the brunt of such joking. The word is blanquillos. Therefore, if you are determined to order eggs down here, I suggest you use that word instead of huevos. Mexico Mike tipped me off on this whole deal, and he was right.

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