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.
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.
I ATE A FREAKING RABBIT.