Welcome to the Adventure

Living in Mexico is often indescribable...you just have to live here. I have been journaling experiences for a while, and I hope you can get a feel for stupid-ass gringos trying to get it. But I am still here, and that says a lot for those of us sticking it out, as the payback is what makes life so good here.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Food 3.0 - Teaching for Food and Drink

Crazy Kraut Cafe

I was thinking of those signs we used to see (and are still there I'm guessing, what with the economy and all) "will work for food". I had been asked many times since I have moved here to teach English. For money. From a local school, to the Universidad del Mar, everyone wants to learn English. The business in Huatulco is tourism. The university here specializes in global business and tourist-related business degrees. English is the language of global business. I'd declined all offers until last month. I couldn't see going back to work full-time (some of you know how pissy that made me before I retired), but enough time had passed, and I thought, ok, now's the time to jump back in. Larry jumped in with me (thank you). But only for food and drink....not money. Fortunately all of our students are in the restaurant business.

Of course, you know we would somehow hook up with the food industry here. It wasn't hard. We started with the Crazy Kraut Cafe staff. The Crazy Kraut is a cultural anomaly here in Huatulco, a "German" restaurant. Owned and run by Marion and Scott, it became, in a very short time, the restaurant for breakfast or lunch in town (soon to expand to dinner). Marion is an amazing cook, amazing! I couldn't begin to even get as creative as she is with substitutions to make an "authentic" German Chocolate Cake. Her Eggs Benedict, are the stuff of legends, in a community that generally doesn't even eat an egg for breakfast. Locals go. Tourists looking for anything non-Mexican go. Anyone looking for a little comfort food, will immediately be rewarded with her meatloaf sandwiches, homemade sauerkraut, cabbage rolls, and the occasional German "special". I've met more people at her restaurant, over a cup of coffee, than I have met in all 2 years here in Mexico.

Her staff wanted to learn English. Marion asked if we were up for it. How could we resist. No money I said, just those Eggs Benedict or the best crepes anywhere, would suffice, upon occasion. A deal was struck. Francisco, Sonia and Danny became our first students. They are between 19-21 years old, and interestingly, are all from Salina Cruz (2 hours south), who came up here to work, and yet didn't know each other before coming here. Francisco is the chef. Marian taught him everything Crazy Kraut. On his own, he is a fabulous cook as well, and does an occasional "special" of his own creation. Sonia is the "leader of the pack" so to speak. The alpha female of the "I'm not taking that shit" school. Love her. And Danny, is the sweetest, most fragile of the group, who thinks nothing of wearing green-metallic nail polish as he serves those Eggs Benedict.

As it was, after the first class, we wandered over to another local fav, the Krystal Rose for a drink. Our friend Juan owns this gem. A kind of high end restaurant (but enough things on the menu for all economic groups) that makes all foodie groups happy. His local Oaxacan dishes are renown, but he is more known for his way with the grill. Juan's brother, a musician at Krystal Rose, asked to jump into the class as we were talking about it with another waitress, Vivi. Vivi is now our "star" student by the way. She takes big risks with language, and is usually right on. And she is so funny. Michael is our "lover". He wants to sing "It's a Wonderful World" with perfect English pronunciation, I think to woo the girls. And when his eye moves to the street, ever so slightly during class, I look to see what woman is getting his admiration, and usually agree, it was worth the look. Great, I said, we have room.....then we called Marion to ask if was OK.

And so our little class grew. About 3 weeks into the class, I noticed another person was sitting in. She just appeared. Rosie, who owns the building where Marion has her restaurant, and runs the hotel there, joined the class. She brings the sparkle. She especially liked the command "come here now", as assorted kittens and children seem to be flitting around us. She truly sparkled as I told her it really was a useful phrase. She practices it with glee. Especially on the other students.

Yesterday we leisurely munched our way through the lesson. Street vendors passed by, selling among many things, tamales, plums and cherries from Michoacan, a cinnamon bread specialty from a local communidad. Our table was looking very close to a feast. We ate, discussed how different Mexican Spanish is from American English culturally. We spent an inordinate amount of time on nuances of words in both languages. And we laughed. We laughed as Vivi got on Michael for his wandering eye. We laughed talking about verbs "to make" and "to do" and the ever hilarious "to come"...they're are far hipper than you would think on that verb. And we laughed some more. We get paid big-time. Who would have thought we'd be working for food and drink, in Mexico.

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