Moctezuma doesn't often take revenge on his own people, but every now and then, I suppose his spirit does come back to haunt the European genes in the mix. Patricio himself, who boasts a stomach of steel, is only now recovering from that old Aztec's wrath, after a week of frequent visits to the powder room. Originally placing the blame on a bad batch of chilaquiles he'd brunched on at a hole in the wall place, he discovered the truth a few days later. Stopping by to see his brother, Alberto, his laments turned out to be shared. And having shared the same meal the previous Sunday, their suspicions were corroborated by the words of our little nephew, spoken with innocent foreshadowing before we gathered around his family's table for the hours-in-preparation barbacoa.
"What's the occasion we're celebrating?" Patricio asked little Eder, knowing that we're usually invited out to the small ranch in Tenopalco to celebrate a birthday or the town's Saint Day in October.
"Nothing," he replied. "It's just that one of grandma's sheep died. So we're going to eat it."
We laughed, heedlessly trooping out into the patio surrounded by the extended family's homes, where the tables were set and the salsa laid out.
Perhaps it wasn't Moctezuma after all. Only a sad little sheep, gone before its time. Note to selves, we later said, though: don't be too quick to celebrate the death of grandma's livestock. Even stomachs of steel may become lions defeated by the lamb.