Sunday, December 04, 2005

Of Weddings and Hot Tamales

The embassy staff is probably about 70% Guatemalan. The Officers cycle through, and the Guatemalans stick around, providing institutional memory and making the place run. One of the women who works with me got married yesterday, so I ventured off to Mixco to attend the ceremony. Being from Colorado, rather than say, South Boston, I've never had the pleasure of attending a Catholic wedding before. But I take it on the authority of many other guests that the wedding wasn't too different from the Catholic ceremony you'd see in the US, aside from a figure-eight double-rosary thing that bride and groom wore jointly during a chunk of the ceremony and the Our Fathers being en espaƱol. It may tell you something about the amount of preaching that was involved that the bride and groom also sat at a table at the front of the church when possible, which was kind of a more official cue for those of us who would generally have no idea when to stand or sit or kneel or whatnot. It's hard enough to pay attention to a sermon and pick up all the cues when it's in your first language.

The only other fun cultural differnce is that the less-developed ornithological sensibilities here still permit the throwing of rice. And being in Guatemala, they also throw dried beans and corn. Also, any time more than five people get together in Guatemala, a guy with an ice-cream cart and a cowbell shows up, a trend that the solemnity of holy matrimony was powerless to deter.

Being in a more typical Guatemalan neighborhood, I thought I'd take advantage -- across the street was a residence with a red balloon on the door and a sign saying "Today Delicious Tamales." Knowing there is nothing like a home-made taste of real local cuisine, I ambled over and paid my $1.85 and picked up four chicken tamales, steaming hot. I got them home, unwrapped one from the entire banana leaf that they use in lieu of a corn husk, and dug in. It turns out that the promised chicken in this tamale was the pointy end of a drumstick. You know, the half that doesn't have any meat on it. I ate the rest and tried another, and while there was more chicken, there were also little bits of chopped up bone mixed in, which was maybe even less desirable than the whole chunk of legbone in the first one. Anyway, there are still two wrapped tamales in the fridge; they'll probably still be there, dear reader, should you ever stop by to visit and want a late-night snack.

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