By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
DEAR MEXICAN: What is it about the many gringos/gabachos who constantly slaughter Spanish words? Spanish is easier to pronounce (and spell) than English. The vowels are always pronounced the same way. In English, vowels vary a lot—making it difficult for new learners. All the other letters are pronounced the same way, except for a few, such as J (guttural-sounding) and X (like the aspirated J). But H is always silent, Y is like I, and the double-L is pronounced "yah." Don't get me started about how common expressions such as "vamonos" became "mosey," "calaboso" became "calaboose" and "vaquero" became "buckaroo," etc.
DEAR CALL ME FRUSTRATED: Don't be too hard on gabachos. You simplify Spanish a bit much—don't forget that X sounds like "ch" when placed at the beginning of words, that we love to elide (you try getting a gaba to translate "No, pos 'ta pa'lla") and that trilling double-Rs ain't exactly easy. In fairness, Americans do know Mexican Spanish, from borracho to chichis to chica caliente to guac, torts and chimis. And the recently concluded World Cup taught American sports fans the wonder that is "Eh . . . PU-TO!" ("Hey . . . FAG-GOT!"), chanted at the opposing portero after every goal kick. All non-Mexicans in los Estados Unidos will slowly learn Spanish as their numbers decline and Mexicans increase—after all, they don't want to be economically retarded like non-English-speaking Mexicans, do they? Besides the only gabachos who should already know Spanish are those who live in the American Southwest—they've only had about 165 years to learn it, so give them a break.
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DEAR MEXICAN: As far as I can tell, Mexican food is all the same thing, based on one simple concept. Take a tortilla and lay it out open-face, then pile on it meat, lettuce, tomato and maybe some cilantro—and it's called a tostada. Fold it in half, and now it's a taco. Roll it up, and it's a burrito. Throw the burrito in the deep fryer, and now it's a chimichanga. The only REAL choice anybody has with Mexican food besides the amount of hot sauce is the tortilla (corn or flour) and the kind of meat. Is that all that Mexicans could come up with for their country's cooking heritage?
Culinary Boredom In Salinas
DEAR GABACHA: Wow, what did tortillas ever do to you? Not only are you pendeja, but you're retrependeja. For chrissakes, you don't even know the Mexican-food writings of your hometown hero, John Steinbeck. When he was going around the country while writing Travels With Charley, the Homer from Salinas wrote to his wife that he had prepared a bowl of pozole (he called it "pissoli"), which doesn't involve tortillas (though it can) or meat (though it can). He also loved Bohemia beer, writing, "Ah, Bohemia beer and the Pyramid of the Sun; entire civilizations have created less." Finally, tamales make many appearances in his works, from Tortilla Flat to The Pastures of Heaven and more. Besides, what's gabacho food if not bread, a choice of meat and gallons of corn syrup?