This afternoon, I visit the neighbor kids’ house. Vale, the sixth grader, comes out of the kitchen with a bowl.
“You want some? Try these.” In the bowl are about two cups of toasted grasshoppers. “Chapulines,” she says. “They’re good!”
I tell her I actually ate four of those grasshoppers in Mexico with tortillas and salsa but am not sure I can eat them plain like that. The bowl is full of bodies and legs.
Cerila, her mom, laughs and says to try them. I tell her I don’t like the way the legs get stuck in my teeth…and we didn’t grow up eating grasshoppers. She tells me how, in Mexico, they drown the insects in almost empty water-bottles and then shake them out to dry in the sun.
Vale pulls the legs off one for me to eat. Now it looks like a maggot.
Cerila is cracking up and I take it as a challenge, un reto. Vale turns back to the kitchen with the bowl but I tell her I’ll try one. I put a legged thing in my mouth and chew. It tastes like salt and lime with an odd aftertaste. But it tastes good. I eat more and she laughs. Cerila tells me she will teach me to cook chapulines this weekend, then I will know how to make pozole and grasshoppers.
The baby her arms cries when she sees my blond hair but I think she’s getting used to me. We are getting used to each other.