(Por los gringos: Five Things I love About Being Married to a Mexican)
Linking up w/ Jenna at Call Her Happy (for my very first time!)
I have no products to recommend or endorse today. Lo siento. I just want to gush about my love of my husband’s cool culture. I am boring old white bread with no interesting background or traditions to speak of, so I have latched on to his.
Someday, when you and I know each other a little bit better, I may tell you about the grief I have faced for loving my husband’s culture *too* much, but not right now because it is dumb and people surely know how to act a fool and I am really, really, really praying for the intercession of my patron saint, Saint Jane Frances de Chantal, to help remind me to forgive and forget.
Anyway, for those of you who are not Mexican or well acquainted with many, let me tell you, find one right away and make friends so you can get in on the party–literally.
1: The Celebrations/Parties
Mexicans celebrate pretty much everything….except Cinco de Mayo, it seems. Actually they do celebrate that in Puebla de Los Angeles, but it is really nothing all that remarkable elsewhere except here in the States. No one sends invitations to any parties (weddings, baptisms, birthdays, etc) because everyone just shows up, and you don’t even have to know the people being celebrated to attend the party. If you know someone who knows someone there, that is good enough. We invited 120 people to our wedding, about 300 people showed up bringing food and beverages. Mexicans are VERY generous and love to share their happy event with almost everyone. Caution: your daughters WILL be begging you for a Quinceañera…
2. The FOOD!
My Lord o’ Mercy, the food! Forget your notions of sour cream, lettuce, and covered in cheddar “enchiladas” you see on Pinterest. That “authentic” Mexican restaurant in your town…ha! Don’t make me laugh! You ain’t seen nuthin’, ain’t tasted NUTHIN’, till you eat at a Mexican home or perhaps a Mexican grocery store. There was a dang good reason I gained 40 pounds after being married 2 years to my husband (I have since lost it, but with much self-sacrifice, I assure you).
The smell of fresh corn tortillas almost brings tears to my eyes. I have built such a tolerance for all things spicy that I can barely eat un-spicy things anymore. Spaghetti? Only if I have chopped jalapenos and Valencia sauce in it. Pizza? Gotta have my Tapa Tio. I even put chili powder, salt and lime juice on all my fruit now.
I have eaten little grasshoppers, tacos de lengua, mole poblano y mole oaxaca, cactus and loads of other things I would have probably never heard of or tried before I met my darling. Hands down, the best thing on Earth though, are the Christmas tamales. My mother-in-law and sisters-in-law start preparing them for the NIGHTLY parties for the Las Posadas nine days before Christmas and they keep on coming right up through Epiphany. We only get the tamales during this time as they take SO much time and effort, but that is what makes them the best things on Earth.
I strongly urge you, if you have one in your area, to visit a Mexican grocery store, which almost always has a little café or hot food counter. They are always friendly and usually speak English…even where I live where there is a huge population of immigrants that do not speak English. The prices are always good and the food is. out. of. this. world. I urge you to try something out of your comfort zone–something not manufactured by Old El Paso.
3. The Faith
Not all Mexicans are Catholic, and that is fine. One of my sister-in-laws is actually Jehovah Witness. But, the vast majority of them are Catholic and certainly there is a lot of Catholic culture in Mexico. Spain wasn’t always too nice to the indigenous Mexicans…probably hardly ever nice, really. Lots of cathedrals are actually made from the bricks of old Mayan and Aztec temples which the mean conquistadors forced the Mexicans to dismantle and refashion for their purposes. The conquistadors also ruled by fear and violence a lot of the time. However, undaunted, the Mexican people are so strong in their faith, in general, and have found beautiful ways to incorporate lovely ancient traditions into the new Catholic faith that they adopted. Dia de los Muertos, anyone?
Have some fun with the liturgical year and shake things up with a traditional Mexican activity. It doesn’t have to be the Feast of La Virgen De Guadalupe or San Juan Diego, though that is a good place to start. I highly recommend Las Posadas…the whole nine days for bonus points.
4: The Language
I took 3 years of Spanish in high school and 2 in college…but none of it prepared me for the total immersion of visiting my mother-in-law’s for dinner. After 4 years, it takes me about 10 minutes to get acclimated, but once I do, I am pretty much understanding everything. It gets better every time and now I can be turned loose in Mexico or left alone with mom-in-law and think nothing of it. I love watching movies and shows in Spanish and lately I sing Belanova songs all day. I actually feel like there are new pathways in my brain or something because I have been learning a new language.
What is really cute, though, are the idioms that don’t translate. My husband misses a lot of sarcastic comments or phrases in English because they just don’t translate in his brain, and it tickles me to no end. Likewise, he says things that kerflummux me: “No tengo pelos en la lengua”…well, of COURSE you don’t have hair on your tongue, silly (means: “I tell it to ya straight”). Even better is when he sings me little songs in Spanish, like when I am sick for instance, he sings “Sana, sana, colita de rana, si no sanas hoy, sanaras manana!” (heal, heal, little frog’s tail, if you don’t heal today, then heal tomorrow). Best of all is when he uses Spanish during our…quality time….I know what all the fuss is about with latin lovers.
So maybe Spanish isn’t your thing, but I highly recommend learning another language anyway. It is fun and it makes you smarter 🙂
5. Music & Dancing
The thing about listening to music you don’t understand the lyrics to is that you start think it is all the same. I grew up in an area heavily populated with various Hispanic backgrounds, so I have heard all kinds, but didn’t LISTEN to any of it until I met my husband. I actually took it for granted that Mexicans only listened to banda or mariachi, and Puerto Ricans and Cubans only listened to salsa. Obviously I was ignorant and wrong.
I was raised Baptist, so I don’t dance. It is horrible, really. I could barely clap along with music, so my husband started me out slowly, introducing me to Juanes and Tommy Torres. I CAN sing, and they are easy to listen to, so I was picking it up pretty easily. We eventually moved on to some easy Mexican dances and now we are tackling salsa and bachata (NOT Mexican, but something I probably wouldn’t have tried without his guidance).
You don’t even have to learn the language to memorize a song or dance, so you should try it. Get a Juanes CD…he is smokin’ hot and fun.
I pretty much LOVE learning about other cultures, so if you have any things that rock about your own or one you love, lemme know!