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Tuesday, August 7, 2007



Sometimes funny things happen when you least expect them. I just returned from having lunch in the Dining Room of my hotel. During my entire time there today I was smiling. I was alone so others might have thought that there might be something wrong with a man sitting at a table eating and smiling. Well, there was nothing wrong with me of which I knew.

I was smiling because I was eating a perro caliente, which translates to dog hot. Since they did not have what I really wanted, that is sopa de mariscos, one of the best seafood soups in town. I have had sopa de mariscos in almost every restaurant in town. Every where it is made differently, every where good but in some places better than in others. I am fortunate that my restaurant has one of the best in town. It has all kinds of shellfish seafood and no fish: whole clams, octopus, calamari, and shrimp with small amounts of potato and yucca, and I guess what ever else they have in the kitchen. It is always fresh and I enjoy eating a small bowl now and then. But, today they had none so I sinned and had a perro caliente.

One of my first nights here I saw on the menu filete a cavallo translated to filet of horse, so I thought. I knew that in France they serve horsemeat and I had not tasted horse meat since I was 16 years of age so being the connoisseur that I think I am I decided to order it.

Now I tasted horse meat when I was about 16 years old. There was an abattoir in an adjacent town to where I lived and they slaughtered horses there. So one day I bought several pounds and took it home for my mother to cook for the family telling her it was meat which I bought. I did not tell them it was horse meat for I knew they probably would not eat it. They assumed it was beef. But horsemeat is very much darker that beef. I said nothing and my mother did not ask for to my mother I was her shining star who could do no wrong. During the meal my father remarked than the meat was exceptionally good but it seemed a bit different from he was usually served. I said it might be because it was horse meat. My father would not believe me at first, but after he realized I was telling the truth, I thought he would kill me. But I said that he said the meat was particularly good and thought it was probably the manner by which my mother prepared it. I argued with my father that if it tasted good several minutes ago and he liked it, why should he be upset at me. My father was an amazing man who recovered from apparently negative situations rapidly. Before dinner was over he asked me to buy some more the following week. The fact that it was half the price of beef helped.

So here I am in the restaurant of my hotel when they served me this what I thought to be horsemeat and before me was what looked to be regular steak with two fried eggs atop. I asked the waitress who informed me that the menu did not say de cavallo which means of the horse but rather a cavallo which is a term they use to describe something cooked with egg. Well, that explained that.

The very following day I was looking in the front part of the menu describing sandwiches where I saw perro caliente, and I remarked to my friend that the day before when I thought they were serving horse meat they were not and here they were serving dog meat. My friend said: “Nicola, read it again but backwards.” Well now it read “Hot dog!.” I felt so incredibly stupid, but laughed it off anyway.

While eating my hot dog today I was thinking back to my experiences almost one year before and it made me smile during my lunch. No one else knew. But, I did.

Cost of 2 hot dogs in Italian-like bread and a large amount of French Fries: $1.65. Eat your heart out.

nicola michael c. Tauraso, M.D.


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