A dinner date in the Yucatan

A dinner date in the Yucatan

by Lindsey Masters

I had been biting my tongue for nearly two weeks, wanting to tell Roque how annoying it was when he arrived late at my house for our dates. However, I did not want to be an ungrateful gringa, caught up in American culture and its expectations. I was ready to accept our cultural differences (being late for a date is fashionable and normal here), and then I realized that four months is a long time to suffer from frustration.

Once I explained my point of view, Roque altered his habit to please me. The next evening, he arrived for our date at 8 p.m. (on time, as he had promised me!).

We drove nearly 25 minutes to a small village, and ate at a local restaurant named La Susana. Since I was unfamiliar with many of the traditional items included on the menu, Roque spent the first 10 minutes of the evening explaining the dishes. The mesero (waiter) took our order and sauntered back to the kitchen. It was then that I noticed all eyes were on me. People certainly love to watch a gringa interact with a native, especially when the native does not speak one word of English!

After I acclimated to the numerous stares cast out by customers and employees, it was much easier to concentrate on conversation. However, the next challenge came with our meal…no silverware! Try being proper and polite when you are shoving a messy panucho into your mouth!

Panuchos are traditional food, made with a small corn tortilla. They are piled high with shredded chicken, avocado, tomato, onion, and lettuce. Then, add all the hot sauce your mouth can handle!

It seems to me that men in the Yucatán are more concerned about a woman’s approval. Throughout the entire meal, he asked me how I liked the food, if the drink suited me (we had horchatas- a white, milky beverage made of rice and sugar, among other things), and how I liked the restaurant. When the water did not suit me, Roque quickly caught the attention of our mesero and ordered the horchata to replace it.

Upon arrival at my house in Marida, we made plans for the upcoming weekend. Now, if only I could decode the telephone call system!