Trust in Food

— moral character in Mexican food

One evening in Chicago, I was invited to someone’s house for dinner. This person was a friend of a friend. He was Mexican and we had mutual acquaintances. Everyone described this guy as the stereotypical latin–passionate, adventurous, caring.

He had a son very early in life. My friend confided in him on emotional matters. He was on probation at the school he taught at for being too involved in his student’s lives (what he claimed). There was talk he had an affair with a woman who recently broke up with a close friend of his. Despite the anecdote, he was known to be a passionate and caring.

Now, Mexican food made by someone who grew up in a Mexican household–I didn’t want to pass up this opportunity!

When I arrived, I saw so many fresh ingredients in the kitchen. Two types of salsa, beans, rice. I asked how each dish was made. He went in depth on how he prepared the tomatoes for the salsa, the slow cooking of the beans, the process of roasting peppers for the second salsa.

I literally took notes. I wanted to cook delicious Mexican at home. He had so much knowledge to share.

When we sat down to eat, I was more than ready to taste everything and experience the flavors of the ingredients he mentioned.

But…

The food was bland.

‘Maybe it’s bland because it’s homemade?’

When my mom recreates a dish, she doesn’t put as much butter or salt. At the dinner I put more salt but no distinct flavors showed up. I could have tasted the same beans from opening a can of beans.

‘Maybe I’m so unaccustomed to real Mexican food that I hadn’t developed receptors for the flavors?’

It was startling how different reality was from the one described by the host.

Chicago is full of Mexican restaurants run by Mexicans. I’ve always been able to taste the flavors.

‘Maybe he’s from a different part of Mexico? Where the same foods don’t taste like anything?’

I was very disappointed but I told him the food was good.

Later on, I got to know him more as I ran into him on many other occasions. I caught him cheating on his girlfriend, a woman I met at the same dinner. I started to see more and more how far he was from who he claimed to be.

Some people are unlike anything they portray themselves to be.

The food was telling me the entire time ‘this person is not who he seems…’

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