“Here’s the very first thing you need to know about Spanish: no one says ‘gringo’ anymore. Or, well, more like the only people that say ‘gringo’ are … you know, gringos.”
This is the first lesson to be learned from Kitchen Spanish for Gringos, a zine-y little book created by artist and cook Matt Foote. Foote started looking for work in restaurants while living in Los Angeles, having left the newspaper industry “as it withered and died all around me,” he writes. (Thanks a lot, Matt!) But he quickly realized that without a working knowledge of Spanish or Chinese, it was darn near impossible to get hired as a cook in L.A. So Foote moved on to, ah, whiter pastures (“I got on up to cracker-ass San Luis Obispo,” he explains in his introduction). Now he’s a line cook at two local restaurants, and is determined to master kitchen Spanish and help other cooks do the same.
Kitchen Spanish for Gringos (which opens, funnily enough, with, “Okay. You’re reading this.”) starts off with the basics: Today is my first day. Are you my boss?
Then we move on to the location of important items (Where is the time clock?) and times of day, which includes the phrases No tardas (Don’t be late) and below it, No me jodas. Estoy serio!” (Don’t fuck with me. I’m serious!)
Food words are then listed, with the warning that cabra (goat) is also an insult. Ardilla (squirrel) is on there, too. (Where does this guy work?) Weights and measures, cooking-related verbs, and informal kitchen banter is also covered. I can now say Cocinas come maricon mariner (You cook like a gay sailor) and then backpedal my way out of it with a cheery, No me entiendas malo. Respeto a los homosexuals y me gusta andar en veleros. (I don’t mean it in a bad way—I love the gays, and I also enjoy sailing.)
Foote sees Kitchen Spanish for Gringos, available at Dr. Cain’s Comics and Games, as a work in progress.
“The plan is to continue developing this book WITH the people who are reading it,” he explains in the introduction. “So if I left something out or screwed something up, please let me know!”
Dr. Cain’s is at 778 Marsh St., suite 110, in downtown San Luis Obispo.
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