It’s 3:30 in the afternoon. We have an hour to ourselves before the doors open for dinner. Armando, the sous chef, made something special for us today – steak tagliate; simply dressed with arugula, fresh tomatoes, and superb olive oil. It’s delicious.
Having already polished off my lunch I’m sipping espresso and reading the paper. The bus people are just sitting down, liberally pouring Tabasco sauce on their meals. Not the condiment I would suggest – but then again they put would put hot sauce on a Twinkie.
“Hey Maria, do you put Tabasco in the baby formula?” I say peering over the top of the Times.
Our newest mother smiles, “Of course Gringo.”
“Ay mamacita caliente!” I yelp.
“Silencio cabron,” Maria chides gently. The kitchen men laugh. It’s an old bistro joke between Mexicanos and Anglos.
Armando emerges from the kitchen holding a cappuccino. He sits down across from me.
“Thanks for lunch Armando, that was excellent,” I say.
“Of course it was,” he replies modestly.
I chuckle and turn back to the Dining Out section.
“Anything interesting in the paper?” Armando asks.
“Same shit, different day,” I sigh.
Armando takes a sip of his cappuccino, wiping the foam from his upper lip.
“You know when I was in the gym yesterday I read a really interesting magazine article about bourgers.” he says.
Sometimes Armando has trouble pronouncing English words. “Bourgers? Like in Big Macs?” I ask in clarification.
He shakes his head, “No, bourgers, the things that come out of your nose.”
“You mean boogers don’t you?”
He snaps his fingers, “Yes. Boogers, that’s it. Si. ”
“What about them?” I ask warily.
“A doctor said that it’s healthy to eat boogers. Somehow it helps keep you from getting sick,” he says.
“He said it helps stimulate your, your….what is the word?”
“Immune system?” I offer.
“Si, immune system,” Armando says triumphantly.
“Well it makes sense. We’ve all picked our nose. It’s natural. We are probably ingesting dead bacteria giving us some sort of immunity,” I muse.
“That’s what the article said.”
“When you think about it there were no seasonings in caveman days,” I reason.
“Yes, they probably thought it was tasty,” Armando replies. Remember this guy is the chef.
“Could you guys talk about something else please,” a lunch waiter bitches, “I’m eating.”
“Sorry,” Armando and I say simultaneously.
Armando polishes off his coffee. “Hey, I made shortcake with crème fraiche for dessert.”
“Yummy,” I say. Small wonder my pants are too tight.
“Let me get it,” Armando says rising from his seat.
“Armando!” I call after him.
He pauses at the door, “Yes?”
“Wash your hands.”