People’s Guide correspondent Jeff O’Brien sent us the perfect post for Father’s Day.
Tomorrow is Father’s Day. Today while cooking breakfast I was thinking of mi suegro, my father-in-law. Don Lencho Bigote. The first time we met, my then girlfriend left us in each other’s company for several hours while she was at work. My father in law speaks no English and my Spanish is limited. Very limited. EXTREMELY limited.
We sat on the patio, mostly in silence. He was cutting oranges and limones to prepare a marinade for roast chicken. The silence must have gotten too noisy because it wasn’t long before he gestured me into the house, put the TV remote control in my hand and pointed to the couch. Clearly a maestro in his outdoor cocina did not need the help of a staring gringo.
The feast that night was a template for many to follow over the next few years. A culinary ritual involving supply runs, delegation of tamales and chicharones and much barbequing. The nighttime fiestas are legendary and have run the gamut of cerveza, barbacoa and festive mariachi.
Desayuno includes great portion of potatoes and machaca, pequins and tortillas, fresh fruit and yoghurt and granola.
Amo mi suegro. He has the biggest heart. In the years since that first awkward meeting, we have watched classic Mexican movies and TV together. We have spoken to each other, he in Spanish and I in English. We have not understood each other’s words, but gestures and expressions are universal. We have gone for Sunday seafood feasts and walked the beach with my father. Almost always in silence, we were never at a loss for words.
We have gone to baseball games, cheered the Sultanes when they were winning and walked away in disgust when they were losing. We have gone for long, family walks down the haunted, cobblestone streets of Real de Catorce.
We both cried when he gave me permission to marry his tesoro, his daughter. I am sure he had his reservations, but he still gave me a huge abrazo and welcomed me to the family. He brings steaming boxes of cabrito home on Saturday nights, his sixth day of work.
My father-in-law opened his home and heart and, while I am sure he may still have a doubt or two and misses his daughter, he has placed his trust in me.
When I think of mi suegro, I think of Mexico.