It’s the Pitts 7-19-10
July 19, 2010
I grew up in a Spanish speaking town, studied six years of Spanish in school and many of my best friends are Latino. I have worked in situations where only Spanish was spoken. Despite all this I am ashamed to say my Spanish vocabulary is limited to good day, what’s your name, and I have a headache. I also know a few select Spanish cuss words but they don’t count because I have no idea what they mean in English.
This lack of Latin literacy was especially frustrating when I hired a Latino fellow to slaughter, cut and wrap a pig we had raised for the freezer. The man came highly recommended and his portable hide and tallow factory was clean and complete. He came prepared with everything but an interpreter. He spoke little English and I had used up two thirds of my Spanish vocabulary after saying, good day and asking him what his name was. (It was Marcelino.)
To his credit, Marcelino knew more English than I knew Spanish but right off the bat we had communication problems. I told Marcelino that I wanted the hog killed but something got lost in the translation because he almost killed my horse. It was a real Mexican standoff … neither one of us understood what the other was saying.
What Marcelino lacked in linguistics he more than made up for with his pig processing abilities. He killed el puerco swiftly, got a good scald going and the pig divorced his hair faster than a hog eats breakfast. I was very impressed.
With the help of my Spanish/English dictionary I next tried to explain to Marcelino how I wanted the meat cut, wrapped and prepared. First, I told him that I wanted lots of sausage and I wanted it very mild. “Comprende?”
“Si, senor,” Marcelino said very politely, indicating that he understood.
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“And I want the pork chops cut thick,” I specifically instructed. “At least an inch thick would be muy bueno,” I said as I spread my fingers a good 2-inches wide to exaggerate the fact that I liked my pork chops thick. Have I mentioned that I like my pork chops thick?
Marcelino was very thorough and before he left for his small butcher shop in town he cleaned up and had the place looking better than when he arrived.
Our first meal from the pig was to be a sausage supper. I truly love a good sausage and so I settled in at the dining room table with anxious anticipation. I took my first bite and it felt like I’d put a burning ball of fire in my mouth. It nearly blew the top of my head off! It turned out that Marcelino had prepared the sausage with his favorite mix that he called, “Chilitiquin.” Roughly translated I think it means, “Call the Fire Department!”
The next night we were looking forward to pork chops, one of my favorite meals. I adore a big, thick chop barbecued over oak wood. That’s why I’d emphasized the fact when I tried to tell Marcelino that I wanted the chops cut thick. So you can imagine my disappointment when we opened a package of pork chops and they were but half an inch thick. I was more disappointed than my mother when I was hatched. We opened all the other packages and, tragically, they were all of the same puny dimensions.
I immediately called the hog butcher but again we had communication problems. So I put my wife on the phone who is fluent in Spanish. She explained the problem with the thin chops and there was a silence on our end as Marcelino responded.
After my wife got Marcelino’s explanation and hung up the phone I asked her, “What did he say about the half inch chops that were supposed to be an inch thick?”
Marcelino said, “No problemo. Just eat two of them.”