Dude...Just Let Me Help You

Sometimes when I go to the local taquería (either Pancho Villa in San Mateo or Chavez Market in Redwood City) I order my food in Spanish.

Me puede traer dos tacos de carnitas, por favor.

Oh...you speak Spanish?

That's right. I'm not just some normal, every-day, run-of-the-mill white boy. I've got an inside track into your culture. I'm cool. However, most of the time the worker will just keep speaking in English.

What kind of salsa do you want on that?

La salsa roja y el pico de gallo picante también.

This exchange will go on until it's clear that the little game of guero loco speaking Spanish while the latino worker speaks English is getting tiresome. I know exactly what they're thinking: "Dude...I speak English. We could just be doing this in English and it would be much easier and much faster." But no. I need them to know that I speak Spanish. See all those other customers in line? They order in English. But not me, compadre. I get it, you see. I took some classes. Practiced. Now I can order my food in Spanish. I see that you speak Spanish. Let me show you.

We've been very busy at K&L this week for the pre-holiday rush. I've been helping numerous customers in the booze aisle, which means I've been running into my own cultural roadblocks.

Sir, can I help you find something in the Cognac section?

Hmmm...actually, I see you don't have Hine or Remy Martin. Is this all the Cognac you have?

Yes, we've actually started going to Cognac ourselves and working directly with the farmers who do the actual production.

(skeptical) Well, it's just that I've never heard of any of these producers. I've lived in France, you see, and I used to drink Cognac all the time. I've actually been to Cognac. My wife and I took a trip there last summer and we visited a lot of these places.

That's great. What I try and do is find smaller producers that I think our customers might really enjoy. You've probably never heard of them because they're very small and they're not carried by any other retailer in the U.S. That being said, it's my job to tell you why they're amazing and worth your time. I think you'd really enjoy this Jacques Esteve bottle.

Right. But I've lived in France. Even when we lived there, I don't remember seeing any of these brands. We used to go to a small shop in Paris, they had hundreds of selections, and I don't remember seeing any of these. I took a class once about Cognac and the teacher talked about many different producers and I don't think these were in that class.


What I really like is the Delamain, you know? I don't really like big house Cognac, but I think that Delamain is one of the better producers. When we went to Delamain last year......


...but I see you don't have Delamain. Have you ever thought about bringing in some of the Hine selections? I think if you tasted them against some of the selections you have here you might be really surprised. When we visited the estate last year, my wife met the head director....


I'm just going to order all my food in English from now on. I'm sorry for making things more difficult, taquería worker. I know you're just trying to help me get my food as best you can.

-David Driscoll

David Driscoll