¡Ask A Mexican!
By Gustavo Arellano
—Gringo from the Future in Tucson, Arizona
Dear Gabacho: Fascinating chrono-analysis, but what you describe are the pathologies most every immigrant group in this country faced in their dumb-ethnics phase, not just the gabacho class. And you also fail to account for the millions of pochos whose ancestors suffered such assimilatory lumps, pochos who are now essentially well-toasted whitebreads, almost indistinguishable from their gabacho neighbors save surnames and a bunch of illegal cousins. But I do salute you for being one of the few gabachos who remember the 1950s as the hellhole era it was instead on viewing it through the Vaseline-smeared lens of an MGM musical like too many Know Nothings.
I’ve been reading your articles for a while, and have always wondered why you respond using Spanish words and terms for which I can’t find a translation. For example: que no, pendejo, raza cósmica, mariposa, chula, verga, gabachos, negritos, primeramente, migra, etc. Perhaps the translation books I’m using need to be replaced by a more complete dictionary of words. If you have a recommendation please let me know.
—Webster’s Wishing We Weren’t Wimps
Dear Gabacho: As I frequently menciono in this columna: pa’ educational razones, but siempre in un way that even the biggest Arpayaso can understand y thus aprender some nuevas words. If you insist on a translation book, buy ¡Ask a Mexican! released in paperback form by Scribner in 2008 and available at your cheaper bargain bins everywhere.
What got the panocha name first: the sweet pudding or the sweeter vagina?
—Pablo the Pervert
Dear Wab: Neither. Panocha comes from the Vulgar Latin panucŭla, which refers to the ears of cereal grain such as corn, millet, and wheat. Its literal Spanish definition is just that, and the New Mexican pudding called panocha refers to its sprouted wheat origins. This panocha also contains brown sugar, however, and panocha also became a name for this sweetener. I wish I could say that all these treats were named in homage of Mother Panocha, but I’m afraid that the word’s sexual connotation is just another example of Mexican men turning everything into a sexytime opportunity. In our defense, though, other Latinos do the same: our innocent, delicious concha (the most famous of Mexican pan dulce, the one with all the rivets of sugar covering its crust) means panocha to Cubans, much to my mami’s eternal dismay.
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