have a late lunch in America
from a Hopi lunch menu to please a Zapotec palate seemed to be a formidable
This tale from the visit of
the Zapotec potters from Oaxaca with the Hopi potters in Arizona (see
Hopi Visit Part I) took place in Mishongnovi up on Second Mesa in
the Hopi reservation. The Hopi Cultural Center is in that little town
and it has a restaurant, the only one for a long, long ways. The sun was
near down and lunchtime was turning into dinnertime. We pulled in and
got a table. As my job as translator and cultural interpreter I began
checking the menu and looking for meals the potters might enjoy.
This proved to be a more difficult
task than I had imagined. There were no tamales, tlayudas, mole, empanadas,
tejate, tasajo or coloradito or any other Oaxacan standards on the menus
of the places we'd been eating. Everything had to be explained: "A hamburger
is ground beef that's been grilled and placed between two pieces of bread.
It usually has ketchup on it." "Ketchup? Well, uh, it's made from tomatoes
with some spices and it's kind of sweet. Has sugar in it." That didn't
go over too well.
The right side of the Hopi Cultural
Center menu had the standard bread and butter dishes: hamburgers, spaghetti,
ham sandwiches, potato salad and grilled cheese. The left side of the
menu was dedicated to traditional Hopi dishes with names as easy for me
to pronounce as the name of the town we were currently in. They also had
complete descriptions in English for those unfamiliar with Hopi cooking.
I guessed that one of these dishes might be of interest to the potters.
I began translating the nine
different dishes. They were based around mutton, hominy, beans and squash.
I did my best to explain what mutton stew was, how northern chili was
made and how hominy was prepared in America. I was trying to second-guess
what they might enjoy most and make suggestions based on their previous
selections at other restaurants.
The potters listened politely,
nodded at my suggestions. When I was all through, had caught my breath
and folded the menu, Alberta asked, "Is there fried chicken?"
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