They say "When in Rome do as the Romans do", so the same logic should also apply to Mexico, right?
That was what I was thinking when I sat down in a classy Mexican restaurant a few weeks ago. The following morning would be the wedding -- the main reason I went to Mexico -- so this meal was to get acquainted with traditional Mexican drinks and dishes. As I was pouring over the menu trying to decipher it, the man beside me pointed out the "Tacos" section. I knew what a taco was, so it seemed like a safe place to order from. He then ran through the types of tacos on the menu. One was beef, one was shrimp and the other was dog.
I had to stop him. "Dog? Really?" Yes. It was three dog tacos. I decided then that if dog was what was commonly served in Mexico, then it's something I should try. When in Rome, right?
After about 15 minutes, the waiter brought the tacos with a side of salad and a bowl full of vegetables. I quickly took a picture of them and put it out onto Facebook, with the caption "Guess what kind of taco I'm having!?". Very quickly it was discovered it was dog, and my friends and family were a little less than happy with me. One comment summarized what everybody was feeling: "I think I'm going to woof."
The tacos were actually very good. The meat inside was kind of like pulled pork -- tender and stringy. The sauce was tangy and delicious, and the carrots and lettuce were very crunchy. In one of the tacos I found a bone, but that happens with any kind of meat, so I wasn't too put off by it. All in all, it was so good that I considered ordering seconds.
After supper we went out to the bar and I met some members of the bridal party. They were all about my age and we got talking about how I was enjoying Mexico. Quickly it came up what I had for supper and everybody wanted to know more about it. Nobody in the bridal party, it seems, had ever tried dog.
This seemed very strange to me, but then again I have never had tuna so it's not impossible to have something nobody else has ever had.
The night ended and I went back to my hotel. The following morning I woke up to my phone alarm, and noticed I had a message from one of my friends on Facebook. She asked me where I had found dog on the menu in Mexico, since she has never seen it.
Normally I would dismiss such messages. It was only because I highly respect this person (she's one of my old high school teachers) and because she has probably spent more time in Mexico over the years than I have in Canada, that I wanted to give her an answer.
I closed Facebook and went to the pictures on my phone. I found the pictures of the tacos and checked their geo-located position. I then opened it on Google Maps, found the restaurant, went to their website and found their menu. I copied the title of all the tacos, popped them into Google Translate and saw beef, shrimp and...
What!? I couldn't believe it! Surely it translated wrong! I isolated all the words from the title and translated them all individually. There was no mistaking it. "Pato" means "duck" and "perro" means "dog". Sure, duck is a more exotic meat, but it isn't unheard of to eat. Dog, on the other hand, is extremely taboo in the West. How could I have made this mistake?
I then thought back to the previous night to how I learned what the taco's meat was. I remembered that I was told it was dog by a man who had a thick Spanish accent. It's possible that when this gentleman said "duck", he gave it a harder "oh" sound, and it came out like "dock". "Dock" could have easily been misheard of as "dog", since a "dock taco" wouldn't make any sense.
So, for any of my friends or family thinking I ate dog, I'm sorry, I had duck instead. My bad.
In the words of the groom though, "When it comes to Mexico tacos, unless you see them cut the meat yourself, you never know what you might get." So, there's still a possibility, right?
What's the weirdest thing you've ever ate while traveling? Have you ever eaten dog? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!
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And, as always, a big thank you to my sweetheart Jessica Nuttall for proof reading a countless number of my articles. I couldn't do any of this without you. I love you.
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Long before I started my blog, many, many years ago, I visited Innsbruck, Austria. I was on a Contiki trip through Europe and visited a plethora of locations such as Rome, Paris, Amsterdam, Venice, Lucerne and Innsbruck, just to name a few. It was an incredible experience and one that I think was a transformative moment in my life.
Off the record (or, on the record now, I guess), of all the places I visited, the only one I didn't like was Innsbruck. I couldn't get into it. We visited it in late March, so the weather wasn't the best. The trees didn't have any leaves on them, the grass was brown, and everything had a post-winter grey look to it. After visiting Munich and spending the night in St. Goar, my mind wasn't thinking about Innsbruck at all. Instead, I was more excited to go to Venice the next day, and the Vatican the day after that. My time in Innsbruck was uneventful, and all I wanted was to get back on the road.
That was in 2011, and now it's 2018. Has my opinion on Innsbruck changed? I would say yes. I'm more mature now and if I went back, I would better appreciate what I was seeing. As I've gotten older, I've been less impressed by the massive buildings and more enthralled by the history that created them.
Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania shut its doors in 1970. A year later, in 1971, it would briefly reopen and house inmates from Holmesburg Prison after a devastating riot. After the prisoners were returned to Holmesburg, Eastern State would sit empty for over two decades. It would rot, decay and collapse. Trees and shrubs would grow into the structure and a clowder of cats would take residence. These hallowed halls would sit empty, the only noise being the chatter of startled birds and the trotter of feline paws.
The following decades would see various discussions of what to do with the building. Eventually, it was decided to preserve it and turn it into a tourist attraction. Although it officially opened for tours in 1994, attendants would have to sign a waiver and wear hardhats before entering until 2008. They had 10,000 visitors the opening year, a number of tourists not seen in the prison since 1858.
From 1829 to 1970, Eastern State Penitentiary underwent a variety of changes and transformations. This massive, sprawling, 11-acre complex was founded under the belief that solitary confinement was the cure needed to prevent criminals from committing future crimes. It was believed criminals who served in solitary confinement would turn to a higher power to reconcile with themselves for their crimes – hence feeling "penitent". To assist in this process, each cell was equipped with a slit window on the ceiling nicknamed "The Eye of God". It would be the only light source available to the inmate.
The following is a guest article by Sally Elbassir, the owner and food taster of Passport and Plates, originally titled "The Tapas, Taverns and History of Madrid: A Food Tour". Be sure to drop by her blog for culinary treats from around the world!
I've always been a foodie. Long before the term "foodie" ever existed, I was that kid who was always eager to try something new.
Things haven't changed much in the last couple of decades. My palate has expanded, and I discovered that my dream job does exist; it just happens to be occupied by Anthony Bourdain. Now I satisfy my foodie obsession by writing on Yelp, and on my blog... there's plenty more where that came from.