Thursday, 28 January 2010

Running the Gaunlet

If you enjoy complicated, frequently baffling lunches I can heartily recommend a trip to the 20th November market in Oaxaca:

The system is pretty simple: as you walk down the hallway you are heckled first by a selection of butchers and then by a crowd of people waving trays of spring onions and peppers at you. They will encourage you to sit down at a table already occupied by some other diners: take them up on this offer if only to enjoy their ensuing bafflement. Having exhausted your Spanish and your host's english relax and enjoy a few minutes of contempory mime. Popular themes include: i) vegetable gesticulation ii) meat pointing iii) basket shaking iv) table waving v) generic shrugging. When you feel you've had enough of this, resolve to book more spanish lessons, take a basket of vegetables and wander off in the direction of the meat.

Well that got the butchers pretty excited didn't it? Who knew that they could shout like that? I like to pick the first butcher I come to because I'm easily intimidated, but choose whichever one takes your fancy. Take meat. Pay butcher. Give meat to old woman next to butcher. Stand around self-conciously while meat grills. Become agitated - why is everyone else sitting down? Do they bring it over? Buy tortillas from old lady. Wander off with cooked meat.

Sit down. Stand up. Give meat tray to vegetable man. Retrieve meat tray and grilled vegetables. Buy some cactus salad, salsa and guacamole. Commence eating.

Search for cutlery. Tear meat with hands. Enjoy the atonal bellowings of a mentally ill busker. Boy those chillis are hot! Buy a coke from the soda boy. Become confused. Bolt food. Disuade mentally ill busker from taking your tortillas. Take blurry photo of basket.

Finish eating. Attempt to pay vegetable man for the coke and the soda boy for the vegetables. Pay vegetable man for vegetables and soda boy for a coke. Leave. Admire menudo.

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