When it comes to enjoying a bite of this or that, buttery mashed potatoes, a beet and grapefruit salad, or a pinchful of prepared chapulines, my palate soon becomes a very a happy place to be. I'm not particularly picky, until a dish arrives full of baby corns. Or gizzards. And if I have to, I'll quit breathing through my nose as I swallow. But I'll eat them, not yet ready to believe that I'll never develop a taste. Patricio loves gizzards--mollejas cooked up in a pungent sauce of chiles--so why shouldn't I? I'll leave it up to time.
I've been so intent on learning to like eating any sort of food, that it's come as a surprise to learn that I've slowly been making myself comfortable with a widely assumed practice of not eating something. And the strangest part lies in that I once loved the very thing I'm no longer savoring as much. In a way, I feel like I'm playing a slight act of betrayal on my cafeteria-dining, middle school self. The highlight of any meal, with portions plunked into those five-compartment, polycarbonate cafeteria trays, was always the roll--the roll that was a cube of dense, buttery dough, which one could compact into a tight ball and enjoy as a small token from the beneficent gods who understood the hardships of being twelve.
I never considered not eating the inside of any roll, be it long, short, fat or crusty or square. It was the soft, tender prize after conquering the crust. And then I moved on to Mexico, and oh, what a year and a few hundred bolillos can do to one's innocent view of bread. From the first day I sat across from Patricio at VIPS, dunking bites of bolillos into cups of Mexican salsa, I was told I had full permission, for the first time in my life, to not like eating part of my food. "You really do like the migajón he asked?" as he tore the insides of the crusty roll out of their superior shell. "You know the fat guy in Molotov's song, Cerdo? He's the only one I've heard of who eats bolillos and the migajón." He said it with a teasing glint in his eyes, and I glinted back saying, "Well, that Cerdo knew what was up."
But I admit to having tried the aforethought sacrilege of pulling the migajón out before piling the crust up with salsa, or beans, fish soup or apricot jelly. And I've done it enough that, beneficent middle school gods forgive me, I prefer it that way now. I suppose that's what happens when a culturally-broad license to be picky about certain things gains the palate-pleasing, knowing upper hand. I'll be leaving that migajón next to my mostly-finished plate of chicken gizzards, and getting a general nod approval for it, too.