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How Not Knowing Spanish Caused Me to Accidentally Eat a Rabbit

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If it weren’t for my need for food, I would probably never practice my Spanish.

While traveling through South America, speaking Spanish is directly tied to getting food. At a restaurant, if I’m unable to communicate what dish I want, then I don’t get to eat. I can’t think of a better motivator.

But sometimes this horribly backfires.

Like the other night, while ordering food at a Peruvian restaurant in Buenos Aires called Chan Chan, I thought I was ordering french fries with spicy sauce. I saw the word “aji,” which I knew was a spicy sauce, and the word “papas,” which I knew meant potatoes. I then ignored all the other words surrounding it because I was super hungry, and I couldn’t understand them anyway. Big mistake.

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    When what looked like a chicken thigh with rice and boiled potatoes arrived, I thought the waitress had gotten my order wrong.

    No he pedido esto,” I said. (“I didn’t order this.”)

    The waitress insisted that I did order this, so I ate it.

    The suspicion that this was NOT chicken arose when I saw a strange, thin bone sticking straight out of it. Hm…that didn’t look like a chicken bone.

    The texture seemed like chicken, but the aftertaste was very gamey. I thought maybe it was just bad chicken.

    I continued to eat it.

    All of it.

    I didn’t really think about it until the next day, when I went back to that same restaurant, and my mom mentioned, “Hey, I read online that they serve rabbit here.”

    My heart stopped. I grabbed the menu and looked a little more closely at what I had ordered the night before.

    The first word? “Conejo.” I looked it up in Google translate.

    Google Translate conejo means rabbit



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