Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Eat Week.

OK, last week in review.

I ate at different places. I decided, whatever the pain, I've got to try things.

When I say I ate at different places, what I mean is two different places, bouncing back and forth, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at one, and Tuesday and Thursday at the other.

When I say "pain" I mean mostly total, abject embarrassment with language. Embarrassment for me, and for everyone within earshot.

Luckily few here carry guns, so there was little actual shooting.

One place I tried was "Good Affinity", about a half-hour walk away, near "Gringo Gulch" where a lot of the pale people live in tall brick buildings.

Good Affinity was recommended by the first person I met here, while eating at "el Tunel". Good Affinity is a Taiwanese vegetarian place.

Vegetables are good.

I've been eating mostly bread, or scrambled eggs, toast, and bread, or tiny dabs of vegetables surrounded by rice and thin slices of various meats, supplemented by bread, for six weeks.

A lot of bread.

I thought, "Vegetables, I could use them." Besides, the two places I tried last week were highly recommended.

It's a bit odd to struggle in Spanish up against a couple of Chinese guys, though they were very nice about it all, and probably thought the same about me (oddness, not the Chinese part).

I look more like an aging but still crazed U-boat captain. Sort of. In my fantasy life. Some of the time.

The Good Affinity folks no doubt get many dim-witted gringos stumbling in. I always apologize a lot. I'm getting good at that, even in Spanish. It's my specialty.

So - the short version: I made it through my first lunch.

What I did after the second pass was to copy the menu into my notebook and take it home for analysis. The copying was easy because the menu is short and on the wall, with pictures.

I get pictures. After only a bit of study.

On my third visit I did well, sort of, considering.

There was no line behind me (so I didn't delay anyone), and I kind of knew the routine, and due to having done my homework, I was able to ask for "brécol" (broccoli) as one of my options.

You get rice plus four other options, and you can point if all else fails. I'm still largely in failure mode, "Failure" being my middle name and all, though I can say "broccoli" pretty well, and I wanted it anyway.

Excuse me. I meant to say "brécol". I sincerely apologize.

To you, your associates, your relatives, to the fine people of this country, to the President, and to the flag, Sir or Madam as the case may be.

You can just call me "F".

On my second visit I ordered "Menú de Día Combo" ("Daily Special", or "Special of the Day"), which I've had all three times, sort of, but I refused the juice, wanting to keep the price down a bit.

Silly me. I apologize.

After I'd sat down there was a small episode of hand waving and chattering between the two Chinese guys who were on deck that day.

The one who had put my food together, and the other one, the one who had offered me juice, well they had an exchange of words, and hand signals.

Guy One then caught my attention and kept saying something about "jugo", and motioned me to come and get some. I finally figured out that I had paid for it and they wanted to make sure I got it.

I think.

Anyway, I got a glass of juice and they didn't charge me for it or chase me down the street after I left, so I'm guessing it was included.

This was nice of them.

Undue kindness toward idiots may not pay off in the after life, assuming there is one, but idiots come to appreciate it when it arrives unbidden, with a smile. And of course it is always undeserved.

Especially by me.

And thirst quenching.

On the third day I simply ordered "Un Menú de Día Combo, por favor," pointing like a semi-pro, acting only half-stupid, and then I tried living dangerously by asking "Y tambien, dos rollos primavera, por favor". (I.e., please toss the idiot two spring rolls as well.)

It was my lucky day.

Two spring rolls had already been fried up, for someone else apparently, and were sitting on a plate behind the sneeze guard, ready to go home with me after some pleasant chewing, so I didn't have to wait.

To sum up, the place is not elegant nor the food stupendous. But it is good. Good eats.

And they are kind to idiots.

Which is hard work, the being kind to idiots part, and I appreciate it

The "Menú de Día Combo" is soup (first course), "segundo" (second course, consisting of a plate with the mandatory rice plus other options which you select to keep the rice from feeling lonely), and then there is a large glass of juice to sluice your gullet with.

For juice the second two times I got tomate (the not-tomato juice, which is a bit like orange juice, and not red but yellow).

The total cost for the "Menú de Día Combo" is $2.50.

Spring rolls are 70 cents each, so my lunchtime total was $3.90.

Kind of a splurge compared to el Tunel at $2.25, but the spring rolls are crisp and greasy and the calories feel good as they become one with me.

My kinda eats.

The other Menú de Día options are "segundo y jugo" ($2.25, no soup), or "solo segundo" ($2.00, no soup or juice). Not bad.

It's a nice walk out to Good Affinity and the bank branch I've been going to is across the street, so I can get cash and eat. Which is better than eating and getting gas.

Especially because of the cost of lunch, and for the crisp bills that the ATM give me.

The cash this ATM ejects is fresh off the press. I've never seen such new money before.

It is clean, unwrinkled, flawless, and nearly still warm from the oven.

So far it's passed review everywhere I've spent it. And they pay attention around here.

Some places, including the SuperMaxi grocery chain, seriously inspect your money, holding it up to the light, sticking it under an ultraviolet lamp, feeling its texture, doing a fingernail scratch test. For even a $5 bill.

No one has yet sniffed my money, but I'm expecting to see that. Maybe tomorrow. Who can say?

The other place I went to is called "El Nuevo Paraiso".

We'll visit it another day. OK?

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