I once lived in Yakima Washington and one of my friends there was a young Hispanic man named Jesse. One afternoon, he told me that he wanted me to take him down to his grandmother’s house to pick up some things.
I told him, “Sure, let’s go. I’m happy to help.”
His grandmother lived in a town about thirty minutes away called Sunnyside. When we walked into the house, you could smell the food cooking in the kitchen. I was mesmerized by the aroma and my mouth immediately started watering. Jesse’s grandmother came out to greet us. She smiled up at me a few seconds later and said something in Spanish.
I turned to Jesse and asked him to translate.
Jesse grinned and said, “She wants to know if you are hungry.”
I said, “Absolutely!”
So, we sat down at a table in the kitchen and she put out a basket of homemade flour tortillas, still warm from the stove. She then gave us a big plate of rice and beans. Everything looked and smelled great.
As she put the food in front of us and sat down to eat, I noticed there was no silverware in sight. To me this was odd, as I had lived my whole life using a knife and fork.
I waited for a few seconds before I leaned over to ask Jesse, “Where are the forks?”
Jesse asked his grandmother the same question in Spanish and she answered, “Show him how to use tortillas instead.”
Jesse then showed me how to use the tortilla to scoop up the rice and beans, tearing off pieces as needed. It was one of the best meals I’ve ever had.
Now, to this day, I always ask for tortillas when we go out to Mexican food. I could have insisted on using a fork that day in Sunnyside but I didn’t, I wanted to see what it was like.
Tip to take away
Don’t be afraid to try something new, no matter how small it is. Have the courage to try something outside of your wheelhouse.
Photo by Christine Siracusa