The Lady(?) Who Came To Lunch
By Kate Karns
I had lived in Mexico for twenty years or so and when someone asked, “Do you like it here?” It’s hard not to answer sarcastically. You’re tempted to say, “Would I live here this long if I didn’t?” But that sounds unfriendly.
I took my recent visitor to lunch, trying to select a place where she could “taste some decent (American) food” and “served at a civilized hour,” (noon). Having found such a place, we slid into our seats and faced a jungle garden of flowers and palms with even a couple of parrots decorating a frond or two. The waiter gave us the menu appropriate in Mexico at this hour. Breakfast. My visitor scanned it and slapped it back on the table, her lips pursed, eyes challenging me.
“It’s not in English.”
“Oh, see the peacock,” I said pointing out the window with one hand and gesturing with fervor to the waiter with the other. The house cat then slid under the table and rubbed lovingly against our legs. The mating call of the peacock was no match for the yelp from our table. The startled waiter shoved the comida menu into my hands and swept up the big tabby cat from under the table in one masterful gesture, spilling only the hot rolls that were releasing steamy smells of fresh bread from their basket. The big bird disappeared behind the bougainvillea with the tossed out cat and order was restored to our corner of the restaurant.
A “Salisbury steak,” (hamburger) was finally ordered. “That’s more like it!” my friend told the waiter when her meal was served. “Why, that meat is good!” she declared as she dug into it. “What do you suppose it is?”
I said, “Hamburger, you know ground beef.” I was taught at an early age to be polite to visitors. It’s good that those things stick with you.
“This is a baked potato. Where do you suppose they get potatoes. It’s cooked, too.”
The waiter brought some fresh butter. “What’s this?”
As she smacked her lips, I answered her questions. “This is pig fat and the potatoes are flown in from Alaska.”
“No wonder!” she said not hearing me. Then the waiter asked me and I asked her if she wanted coffee.
“Do they have that here?”
“It is grown in the back yard.” I was getting testy. When it was served she asked the waiter if it was American. The waiter had been brought up right and smiled his reply.
“Ask him if they have cream.”
“Crema, por favor!”
“Is it real?”
“It’s milked from donkeys.”
“I’d like some dessert. What do they have?”
I suggested flan. “It’s like custard with a little caramel sauce on top.” I told the waiter to bring that to the lady.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the cat wander back in the door heading straight for our table, of course. Unfortunately, my fellow diner saw it too and started to scream. “Waiter, waiter! Get that cat out of here!” She did everything but stand on the table, arousing our corner of the room.
After much mopping up and changing the tablecloth, the waiter brought her another cup of coffee.
“Where is my dessert?” she screamed at him. He went to the kitchen and brought back a dish of custard and set it before her. Then, with a flourish he stepped forward and picked off the fly that was stuck like a cherry in the caramel on top.
“Buen provecho, Señorita,” he said and bowed from the waist. The tip I left him was not inconsequential.
For more information about Lake Chapala visit: www.chapala.com