When in Mexico

Claudia Itzkowich • Montreal, QC

If a business opportunity came up in Mexico in the late 1920s, a new Jewish immigrant had little choice but to take it and move to a new city, regardless of how isolated or inhospitable. My grandfather Abraham was no exception; he moved to San Luis Potosi, one of the most provincial Catholic towns in the country.

San Luis Potosi was the sort of place where a young, blue-eyed Moishe would be chosen to perform as baby Jesus at every Christmas pageant, or where a Jew keeping kosher would have to learn how to slaughter his own poultry.

Every time Abraham caught his eldest daughter Sara succumbing to the street tacos, tortas and other characteristic Mexican treyf treats sold in town, Abraham beat her. It was at Sara’s quinceañera party, when more than one Mexican (as in non-Jewish) suitor showed interest in his plump and gorgeous teenage daughter, that he decided it was time to leave everything behind and move to Mexico City with the rest of Mexico’s Jewish immigrants.

Once the family transitioned to the capital city, where enough kosher goods were available for him and his wife Rebeca to host kugel, cholent and kishke feasts, Abraham discovered bacon.

“I don’t eat pork, just bacon,” he would insist, without a trace of guilt.

We will never know whether events would have transpired differently for poor aunt Sara, who endured such periodic abuse, had Abraham only discovered how delicious pork tasted back in San Luis Potosi.

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