I live in the Bronx, in a heavily immigrant area. We have many West African, Dominican, Mexican, Central American, Guyanese and Bengali newcomers.
I’ve noticed that Mexican men seem to spend lots of time with their wives and kids. Every weekend in the park, you see Mexican man after Mexican man playing soccer with his kids or doing some other activity with his family. I know that most of these men work six days a week, and am amazed that in their free time, they don’t just want to be left alone. It’s not that you don’t see men of other nationalities playing with their kids, but more often, you see the African and Dominican men hanging out with other men, and the wives are with the kids. This is, of course, a vast generalization, but I’ve noticed it a lot.
I also often see Mexican men helping their wives at the Laundromat. I thought Mexicans were supposed to be machos. But now I’m thinking that maybe I need to find myself a Mexican man!
Randy in Riverdale
Dear Gabacha: You should definitely get yourself an hombre, but not to take care of kids. “The Quality of Time Spent With Children Among Mexican Immigrants,” a paper written by Purdue University professor Andres J. Vargas and Daniel Kidane of Ohio Wesleyan University, found that Mexican fathers spent less time with their kiddies than gabachos, Mexican Americans and African Americans, although the rate improved the more time the papis lived in the U.S. “We interpret this as evidence that duration of residence is associated with an improvement of the child-care behaviors of Mexican immigrants,” the two wrote.
They didn’t give a reason as to why Mexican fathers spend less time with their kids, but you alluded to the answer: Our dads work a lot. There’s no time for museums, libraries or tutoring. But trying to turn your son into the next Fernando Valenzuela or Chicharito? Of course!
I’m a gabacho, but I’ve been loving menudo for about 45 years. What are your thoughts on why menudo is the Food of the Gods?
I Ain’t Mexican but Mi Estómago Damn Well Is
Dear No Soy Mexicano But My Stomach Sí Es: You are one smart gabacho! Most people of your ilk only think of the tripe soup as an edible donkey show: a horrific, disgusting artifact of a horrific, disgusting people. But menudo is so much more than boiled cow guts or something to soak up the booze that fueled your previous night.
Menudo is a socio-historical lesson in a bowl: The fat, pale kernels of pozole have nourished Mesoamericans since time immemorial; the use of tripe (and not the better parts of a cow) is a testament to its status as a poor person’s meal. Menudo is delicious, with the trinity of firm pozole, chewy tripe and a fiery, blood-red broth producing a comforting, fatty flavor.
More important: Menudo is amor. It’s the soup Mexican women slave over for their hungry families on weekend mornings, the dish over which families unite and teens fall in love. Menudo nowadays exists in can form, but that’s heresy. True menudo is a difficult feat, taking hours to create, but it comes with a payoff that transcends taste buds and strives for the sublime.
Will menudo cure a hangover? No doubt. But if that’s all you eat it for, then you truly don’t know love.
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