Anyway Melissa hails from the great country of Honduras, which, as many of you might know, is the country in which I served my mission. A lot of Melissa's family was there, which meant that there was a lot of catrachos there. (A catracho is the nickname that the Central Americans give to Hondurans. All of the countries have nicknames, eg. Guatemalans are chapines, El Salvadorans are guanacos, and Nicaraguans are Nicas or Mucas. I don't really know where the words came from or what they mean, but that's what they are called) It was really fun for me talking to them in Spanish and talking about the various parts of the country and the customs they have there.
I probably talked the most to Melissa's mom. She had never met me before and didn't know that I spoke Spanish and so she said in her best English to try the soup. I asked her what it was and she said that I might know it as "menudo" but that it was different and really called "mondongo." I replied in Spanish that of course I knew what mondongo was because I had served in Honduras. She was excited and asked me if I had tried it. I told her I had and that I really didn't care for it at all. Now let me explain, mondongo is a kind of greasy soup they have where they put things like plantains and yuca with COW STOMACH as the meat. Sound good? I didn't think so. The taste is not even the worse thing. It feels like you are chewing on a furry, fuzzy piece of fat that won't even break up. It's probably the most disgusting thing I ate on my mission and that's saying a lot.
But, I wasn't going to let a good opportunity pass me up like this. I told Melissa's mom that I didn't want any, but I was sure that my wife would LOVE to try some, since she had never had any before. So I brought it over to her and said that she had to try it. The whole time she was watching and told me "Digale que no se va a morir" (tell her that she's not going to die!).
Makana was very wary and didn't trust me, but had no choice seeing that the maker of the soup was watching her every move. Makana, being the sweetheart that she is, didn't want to offend her so she meekly sipped up the soup. She said half convincingly "it's not that bad."
"Wait, you haven't tried the meat yet". I pushed around the soup until I found a piece scooped it up and handed it to her. Makana then gave me THE LOOK and slowly put it into her mouth. Luckily at that moment Melissa's mom looked away and Makana gave me this priceless look and said that she couldn't swallow it! She had learned that you really can't chew it or even bite it in half it was so rubbery. She finally choked it down and washed it down with some water.
I grinned and asked her what she thought. Again, not wanting to be rude she said that it was really sweet, but she liked it. Satisfied, her Mom walked away. I thought she actually hadn't thought it was that bad, until I learned later that she almost gagged and threw up. She had hated it!
So the lesson of the story? If anyone offers you mondongo or menudo (especially if it's your annoying husband), politely refuse and make up some excuse. Or just don't EAT THE MEAT!
In the picture below the mondongo is the little honeycomb looking thing.