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FOOD FIGHT: CONFESSION STUNS GOURMET GRINGOS

January 6, 2011

MÉRIDA, Mexico (Reuters) – Shock, outrage, and confusion marked the response of thousands of Americans and Canadians in Mexico and throughout Latin America as news spread beyond Yucatán that Beryl “La Chiqueona” Gorbman, the trend-setting doyenne of Mérida’s gossip-riven expat community, had publicly admitted she was wrong about which local restaurant served the finest tacos and sandwiches of lechón and cochinita pibil.

“I now dream about the lechón tacos at Taqueria Nuevo San Fernando,” said a visibly moved Gorbman at a press conference held yesterday at Mérida’s Plaza Independencia. “And when I dream about those tacos, I weep with joy.”

Gorbman, a former New Yorker and semi-retired private investigator who’s lived in the capital for more than twenty years, and whose lively blog about expatriate life in Yucatán, Gorbman.com, attracts almost 10,000 monthly readers from across the globe, is known and revered throughout Mexico as the “Yucatán Yenta,” and has become a touchstone for the country’s financial, political, and artistic elite.

Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim credits Gorbman for teaching him how to dance the samba, merengue, and rumba, “Thanks to Beryl, I can shake my groceries like a pro.” Writer Carlos Fuentes cites her influence as indispensable, “To imagine a Mexico without Beryl is to imagine a Mexico without tortillas, pyramids, and songs.” President Felipe Calderón claims that Gorbman taught him how to relax, “Beryl gave me my first pair of bunny slippers. After a hard day, I put them on and feel all my stress and tension just melt away. They’re magical!”

Gorbman says that while she’s flattered and grateful for the recognition she’s gained, she does not take its responsibilities lightly.

Cozy Serenity

“When national and world leaders come to you for dancing lessons, or for tips on finding the most relaxing rabbit-themed footwear, you have an absolute obligation to form your opinions carefully and to admit when you’ve been wrong.”

After many years of weekly visits to the same taqueria in southeast Mérida, Gorbman was taken not long ago to Taqueria Nuevo San Fernando, near Hotel Fiesta Americana, by Prof. Charles Kinbote and Hugo de Naranja, recent arrivals to the city whose increasingly influential and controversial blog, Expats Anonymous, or Expatsanon.com, has garnered many thousands of fans and detractors.

“They were the new kids on the block,” says Gorbman. “I thought, ‘What could they possibly know that I don’t?’ But when Prof. Kinbote hand-fed me one of Taqueria Nuevo San Fernando‘s lechón tacos, I knew I’d been living in a dream world for years. I was wrong. Horribly, terribly, agonizingly, pathetically wrong. I have to admit that Prof. Kinbote and Hugo de Naranja are incredible geniuses who will stun the world with their mind-blowing wisdom and fantastic personal charm. They were right! And I was wrong. Wrong. Wrong!

When asked to comment on Gorbman’s confession, Prof. Charles Kinbote and Hugo de Naranja issued a joint statement saying:

“We’ve long admired Beryl’s integrity and honesty, so we are of course very eager to take her to Il Capriccio and Las Cañas, two other restaurants which we’ve featured on Expatsanon.com’s sister blog, Eat Mérida, and where we continue to have very, very tasty meals. We’re certain Beryl will rave about them, too. Even though she has a kitten named Eric who is very jealous and doesn’t want her to have any other friends and who angrily knocks over Beryl’s collection of decorative gourds and shreds her houseplants with his bare teeth whenever she leaves the house to do something fun without him.”

10 Comments leave one →
  1. January 6, 2011 11:06 pm

  2. Jessie Dye permalink
    January 7, 2011 1:31 pm

    How can Beryl Gorbman be wrong? What’s more, how can she admit it? If George W. Bush cannot admit to being wrong, neither should Gorbman. I am considering recusing myself from her blog.

  3. January 7, 2011 4:43 pm

    You are lying. I’ve spent only one long evening with Carlos Fuentes, so I doubt he said those things. And if you don’t stop maligning me, I will tell all about your friendship with Lee Harvey Oswald.

  4. Hugo de Naranja permalink
    January 7, 2011 5:06 pm

    Dear Ms. Dye:

    Yours is an excellent general point.

    However, I’m not entirely certain how you might go about “recusing” yourself from Beryl Gorbman’s blog.

    I am of course referring to the complex legal issues having to do with jurisdiction, specifically whether the Mexican judiciary,
    at any level, would give a flying-rat-fart, so to speak, about your desire to seek some sort of official legal sanction
    for your refusal to read Beryl Gorbman’s blog.

    Perhaps this sort of thing was addressed by NAFTA? (In which case, it would really be something you ought take up with
    President Clinton, and not President Bush, who was rather more preoccupied with that utterly diverting notion
    of building a giant wall along the US/Mexican border. Whatever happened with that? To me, it sounded like
    a project best contracted out to the Chinese, since they’ve already a great deal of experience in that type of construction. But George Jr. never listened to me, anyway. His mom was kinda fun for drinks, ‘though. Just so long as you steered clear of any mention of Sharon, that former daughter-in-law of hers. Oy!)

    However, in answer to your question, “How can Beryl Gorbman be wrong?”, I can but respond with an excerpt from the Talmud, Baba Mezia 59a-59b, which may illuminate a traditionally Jewish way of thinking about self-correction, changing one’s opinion, etc.

    This excerpt concerns a rabbinical debate as to whether a reconstructed oven was sufficiently kosher to be used for cooking:

    On that day, Rabbi Eliezer used all the arguments in the world. He produced powerful arguments to justify his position that the oven should be considered unreconstructed and not susceptible to ritual impurity. But the Sages did not accept his arguments, and insisted that the oven was susceptible to ritual impurity. After Rabbi Eliezer saw that he was not able to persuade his colleagues with logical arguments, he said to them: “If the Halakhah is in accordance with me, let this carob tree prove it.’ The carob tree immediately uprooted itself and moved one hundred cubits–and some say four hundred cubits–from its original place. The Sages said to him: “Proof cannot be brought from a carob tree.” Rabbi Eliezer then said to the Sages: “If the Halakhah is in accordance with me, let the channel of water prove it.” The channel of water immediately flowed backward, against the direction in which it usually flowed. The sages said to him: `Proof cannot be brought from a channel of water either.’ Rabbi Eliezer then said to the Sages: `If the Halakhah is in accordance with me, let the wall of the House of Study prove it.’ The walls of the House of Study then leaned and were about to fall. Rabbi Yehoshua, one of Rabbi Eliezer’s chief opponents among the Sages, rebuked the falling walls, saying to them: `If Talmudic scholars argue with one another in their discussions about the Halakhah, what affair is it of yours?’ The walls did not fall down, out of respect for Rabbi Yehoshua, nor did they straighten, out of respect for Rabbi Eliezer, and indeed those walls still remain leaning to this day. Rabbi Eliezer then said to the Sages: `If the Halakhah is in accordance with me let it be proved directly from Heaven.’ Suddenly a heavenly voice went forth and said to the Sages, `Why are you disputing with Rabbi Eliezer? The Halakhah is in accordance with him in all circumstances!’ Rabbi Yehoshua rose to his feet and quoted a portion of a verse (Deuteronomy 30:12), saying, “The Torah is not in heaven!”

    So, you see, the lechón tacos at Taqueria Nuevo San Fernando are the very best in all of Mérida, whether Beryl Gorbman agrees with us or not. Self-propelling carob trees notwithstanding.

    Thank you for your input.

    Sincerely,

    HDN

  5. mamatheb permalink
    January 7, 2011 6:13 pm

    Im getting hungry!!

  6. Jessie Dye permalink
    January 7, 2011 6:38 pm

    Dear Senior de Naranja:

    I am atwitter with delight that you ferreted out my misuse of the verb “recuse” in regard to the shameful Gorbman reversal. Indeed, I know that I cannot recuse myself in this situation, and it was an intentional linguistic red herring. It was a trap, laid for you and your various countryman (or non-countryman, in the case of expats). You cleverly identified and disarmed it, as you have so often disarmed me.

    And I, my dear friend, also believe that the lecheon tacos at Taqueria Nuevo San Fernando are the best on the North American continent. Indeed, a young man of my aquaintance by the name of Chema is a Meridiano now studying in Vancouver, British Columbia, and feels as you and I do on this subject. In fact, for those of us who live on an all-pork diet, there is no better breakfast spot on earth.

    That, however, is separate from the issue whether Gorbman should admit she was wrong. If she does that, she lays her defenses down and her enemies will fall upon her. She will not be able to shout “mission accomplished” becuase she will have admittmed that her mission was in error. No, Gorbman should keep to her original tacos, Carlos Fuentes and carob trees notwithstanding.

    Yous most sincerely.

  7. Judy Rosenfeld permalink
    January 8, 2011 11:06 am

    Excellelnt writing!
    Forgive my gringa ignorance, but, what are lechon tacos? Is there such a thing?

  8. Jody permalink
    January 8, 2011 7:21 pm

    chipmunk tacos
    (oink, oink)

    I’m sorry. That video is hilarious.

  9. January 13, 2011 10:25 am

    @ Judy

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lechon

  10. Estela Keim permalink
    January 24, 2011 5:54 pm

    Someone asked “what is a lechón taco?”…it is a Mexican taco filled with meat from a Cuban pork, also known as ¨”lechón”. The pigs are born and bred in Cuba, then flown to Mérida for execution, flaying, dismemberment, shredding and subsequent cooking. The juicy concoction resulting is then inserted into a taco. Occasionally, in these dire economic times, Yucatecan pigs are used in order to skip the airfare on the “lechones”. The resulting delicacy is then referred to as a “cochinita taco”.

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