Tuesday, January 8, 2019



    Day of the Magi King
   On the night of  The Magi  Kings I was invited to a Espeto Corrido here in Punta del Este. I already saw as a bullring, with the black and sweaty beasts entering the ring.

   The name must have come from Catalan or from Pamplona, it had a sound that reminded me of my grandparents' old country.   Diners had to enter between horses and bulls of lydia. But no. It was a large resto or restaurant that went to the corner between windows and black porters but I could not see any bull anywhere.
   The first thing that caught my attention was that they delivered a card to each diner. I asked politely

   :-Come here, man, but what is this thing? I am already tired of the booklet in Cuba so that here they also give me one to enter. -And I added- Do not tell me that food is also rationed? Do I get beans that I make years ago that I can not find anywhere?

   -Do not. Sir. That notebook is to record what you consume. Ahh And the beans here are called porotos.

   - I do not want porotos. I want to eat a plate of fried beans even if my diabetes takes me to a state of Coma.

    - Good. Take a plate and use the Buffet.

   I paraded with the rest of the guests embarrassed for being an almost Guajiro Cuban. But pride apart. "Guajiro but with great honor" I wanted to simply eat a plate of beans.We paraded dish in hand by the table called "Buffet" - back in Cuba we called it "Mesa Sueca" - as if the Swedes had invented the stew that was served in those Nordic but in cuban tables.

  Surprise I felt when I saw so many delicacies on the trays, some with French, Russian or South Vietnamese names. Like the ravioli "a la Caruso" with double cream that after a black beer made you sing the Aria of Pucchini.

   Then came the beautiful. We had to weigh each plate on an electronic scale. And they put a stamp or coupon on the back with the grams or kilograms and all that. Nothing that ever reminded me of the Cuba of whom you know.But my God. I thought that here in Uruguay food was not rationed. Everything was by kilo and flavors, aspect, if five or four stars and all that.

   Finally an old Uruguayan writer friend told me that Espeto Corrido was a Brazilian word to designate this type of service but the Uruguayan was still on the breaded Milanesa- steak- and fried potatoes. That this type of subtract had not yet "caught" on the palate of the country.

   I finally found the black beans. Behold, they were called "Feioada"

   Feioada of what. They are simply black bean stew. How feioda or feioda.

   A few beers later my tongue dropped and the cuban happyness emerged. I told Chiqui that who had given her those beautiful jewels and earrings.

  - Those were given to me by my friend M ..

  .-Ahh M .... When she had money because now is more pelá than a yucca in Haitian house.

  She discreetly removed the conversation about her jewels and started talking about a dislocation of the right shoulder that had her praying with one hand because the other could not raise it.I said:

   - Sell those expensive jewelry and have an anesthetic block in the shoulder or if not an operation with general anesthesia.

  Poor Chiqui.She got silent as offended.

   My God, I think I screwed up the claws because I was already a lion with the half beer I had taken.

  Then the writer started talking about his books. That the Red Book stops there, that the Yellow Book stops here, until finishing its speech with the Black book.

   -Sir. You think that literature is like the rainbow. I just needed to talk about the Ultraviolet book to finish that nobody sees it or reads it. Also, I read them all. The yellow left me schizophrenic with so many visions that you described, the Red left my eyes burning like conjunctivitis and the Black book left me ready for the Mentally Ill ward of the psychiatric hospital of Vilardebó.

   The whole table was silent.

  - But gentlemen. Did I say something wrong?

   Everyone looked at each other. The writer still had his mouth open and Chiqui was shaking her head in shame.

  -Let's go to your house, dude-that was me.

   -It  looks like beer and diabetes have gone to my head.

  On the way home I started stumbling and told my sister-in-law.

  -Before I drank beer.The drinks went to my head, now they descend to my feet. I can not walk. Ayy My mommy! What a crazy life. Why did you bring me to the world?

   Before going to bed I asked myself, thinking that I was still in Cuba:

  - And the black beans? Bodeguero, cheeky! Give me the portion of porotos,  I say black beans, that I bring here the ration book.

  And so happened the happy day of the Magi in Punta del Este. Uruguay.

Thank God I behaved rationally and soberly.

                                   Orlando Vicente Alvarez

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