Unequivocally Ambiguous

Humorous Stories on Parenting, Culture and Life

My Mom Screams and I Know Exactly Why

by | Mar 6, 2024 | Travel | 0 comments

A Colombian-Flavored Karaoke With My Three Gringo Friends (31/40)

My mom screams, and I know exactly why.

I look at my watch. I slept through my alarm and didn’t wake up to take out what I had left in the kitchen.

By we, I mean my cousin, Juanqui, and his two friends, Mike and Brian. The three of them traveled from California to Barranquilla.

You could see for miles that Mike and Brian were white. They were whiter than marshmallow spread, whiter than commuting while listening to “All Things Considered,” whiter than white people trying to convince you that burning man is life-altering. Seven days of not taking a shower and tripping on mushrooms and any patch of dirt can be life-altering.

Surprisingly, they spoke good Spanish.

They had an Argentinian accent because that’s where they learned it when they lived in Argentina for a semester during college.

It was easy to understand them, but they had an Argentinian accent from learning Spanish in Buenos Aires. So it wasn’t perfect because for Spanish to be perfect, it has to be spoken with a Colombian accent.

Ask any Spanish speaker, and they will tell you, “Colombians speak the best Spanish.” Who decided this? I don’t know. I just know they were right.

The night before my mom screamed, I took los tres gringos to a popular bar in Barranquilla, “Canta Gallo” (or The Singing Rooster). No, there was no singing rooster. That was just the name for a hybrid bar where people danced salsa and merengue when they weren’t up on stage singing karaoke.

Los tres gringos loved the concept.

It is also very easy to love anything when you are drinking lots of “aguardiente” (or fiery water), which is a 60% alcohol rum.

“Carlos, what does aguardiente taste like?” Well, it’s sweet like fennel candy if fennel candy was trying to impair your judgment, burn your throat, and kill you all at the same time.

A shot of aguardiente is referred to as ‘guaro.’

A few ‘guaros’ in, Mike’s body warmed him up with liquid courage and disappeared. We saw him again almost at the same time as the MC called him on stage to sing.

I thought, “Pfff, this honky is going to bomb.”

This crowd will not understand the cultural importance of white people’s love for “Baby Got Back” or “Sweet Caroline.”

Then, the sounds of a ranchera started playing, and all the locals recognized what he was about to sing.

Mike stepped up to the mic and started belting “El Rey” in his Argentinian, white surfer bum Spanish:

“Yo sé bien que estoy afuera.
Pero el día que yo me muera,
Sé que tendrás que llorar.”

The locals became one glob of collective consciousness and collectively lost their minds.

The bar joined in on the chorus, and the walls trembled when we all sang back, “Llorar y llorar!”

When he was done, he received a standing ovation.

We went back to dancing, and closer to two, the MC took the stage to call up three participants from all the night singers.

Mike was one of them. The winner would be chosen by applause. When it was Mike’s turn, the same earthquake we felt when he was singing sent a shock wave back to him.

The MC declared him the winner, and a girl came out with his prize: a live chicken.

Mike grabbed the hen confidently, then raised it above his head to show it to the audience. It didn’t look like his first grabbing-chicken-as-trophy rodeo.

We left the bar and made it out to my favorite fast-food place. Mike did not want to leave his hard-won possession in the car, so he brought it and placed his chicken on the table.

I told everyone they needed to order ‘chuzo desgranado,’ a culinary invention specific to Colombia’s Caribbean coast.

It is hard even to translate ‘Chuzo Desgranado.’ Maybe I can say it is a deconstructed kebab.

But it is so much more than that.

It is even harder to explain its essence, not because I can’t list the ingredients but because listing the ingredients leaves out the magic your mouth experiences when eating one.

However, to give you an idea, it is a layered dish with cubes of grilled chicken, corn kernels, crushed potato chips, shredded lettuce, pineapple sauce, shredded and melted mozzarella cheese, ‘salsa rosada’ and ‘bollo.’

‘Salsa rosada’ is just the mixture of ketchup and mayo, not to be confused with Thousand Islands because it doesn’t have pickle relish, and ‘bollo’ is another un-translatable culinary wonder; it is a roll of boiled corn masa — almost like a dumpling if a dumpling had a short man syndrome.

It doesn’t sound appetizing, but, believe me, it was. And if you had too many ‘guaros,’ then having a ‘chuzo desgranado’ is as if God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son to deliver ‘chuzos desgranados’ to your table.

We waited for our food and talked in awe about Mike’s balls to stand up with his Argentinian-surfer-bum accented Spanish and sing the most popular Mexican ranchera in history. The chicken seemed unimpressed by this feat, as chickens are often immune to gargantuan human accomplishments and just wandered around the table.

When Mike’s chicken ‘chuzo’ arrived, Mike started eating it, and his eyes expanded as he was engulfed in the flavor of this magical creation. When the chicken saw her new owner’s expression, she decided she did not want to be left out of this life-altering experience, so she started pecking at the CHICKEN!!!!!

That’s right!

It might seem that just because I grew up in a developing country, I’m used to seeing my fair share of weird stuff, and I did.

But this was my first time witnessing an act of chicken-anibalism (or is it chick-anibalism?) Anyway, the unceremonious act of a chicken eating a sister chicken’s soul…. with pineapple sauce.

We all laughed, but Mike laughed the hardest of all, and interesting enough, he did not stop eating his ‘chuzo desgranado.’

That’s how good this thing is.

Although, I do not condone the practice of eating chicken alongside a chicken. I’m sure that is how the Avian flu started.

We got home, and not knowing what to do, we decided to leave the chicken in the kitchen and closed the door. I promised everyone I would wake up early to take care of it.

But I didn’t.

It is hard to wake up before seven after a night of drinking and going to bed at four. And where we left the chicken is exactly where my mom found it.

That and all the poop Mike’s prized possession had left behind.

Subscribe to my newsletter.


Leave a Reply

Recent Articles

Discover more from Unequivocally Ambiguous

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading