Welcome to the sixth installment of C+M’s ongoing series of audio guides on how to order authentically spicy food in ethnic restaurants. As a service to C+M readers Anne Noyes Saini has been compiling a series of audio guides demonstrating phrases in several relevant languages, which can be used to navigate ordering situations fraught with tricky cultural and language barriers.
Today a primer from Ignacio Morales on how to order authentically spicy Mexican food. Ignacio hails from Guanajato, a small city in Central Mexican where the guacamaya is a signature street food sandwich. The Guanajatan gutbomb consists of little more than pork skin, avocado, and spicy pico de gallo. “It’s like the most unhealthy thing in the world, it’s just a pork skin sandwich but it’s amazing,” Ignacio says. Incidentally guacamaya means macaw in Spanish. The sandwich is so named because it’s so spicy you’ll squawk like that tropical bird when you eat it. On to today’s lesson . . .
Ignacio likes his food picante and points out Peruvian food can also be quite spicy. A fact I found out when I asked for the heat in a ceviche I once ordered at bygone Hell’s Kitchen joint Rinconcito Peruano to be adjusted and it came back from the kitchen showered in chilies. Ignacio’s phrases can be used at most any Latino restaurant, not just Mexican ones.
“If the food is not a little bit spicy, it just doesn’t taste the same,” says Ignacio, a man after my own heart and palate. “I keep a bottle of habanero sauce in my desk in my office and I have like 15 different kinds of sauces in my house,” he adds. For the record he has yet to find a guacamaya in New York City. If you’ve ever had one in New York City or elsewhere do let me know.