La Boca Chueca

I was sitting at dinner the other night wristing my fore-arms on the edge of the table while chatting and eating. And I got to thinking about where that habbit had comefrom. It wasn’t the tabboo etiquette of putting my elbows on the table, but my hands seldomly landed in my lap, even during conversation. That is when I remembered a very strict point of Chilean dinner etiquette: your hands must be above the table at all times. I can’t remember why, I think it meant something along the lines that if your hands couldn’t be seen your were shifty or less than honest, not trustworthy.

Another thing that I was told about was how many Latinos pointed with their lips. “How funny!” I remember thinking, “I will never do that.” Well, I am still a lip pointer, my husband has a good chuckle over it. It comes in dreadfully useful when my hands are full and I need to ask someone to do something or get something and I can just point with my lips and say, “over there” or “can you get (lip thrust inserted here) that for me dear?” Or I can wiggle my eyebrows playfully and point my lips in the direction of the bedroom. πŸ™‚ I have even caught Paul pointing with his lips. Watch out, its catching, you might start doing it to! πŸ™‚

One of my favorite ‘old wive’s tales’ in Chile was ‘la boca chueca’ or the crooked mouth. I was warned of this ailment shortly after my arrival. It was evening and we had been drinking Ecco (a hot drink similar to Postum that is a favorite there). Though it never got very cold in the Northern desert of Chile, it would get a bit chilly in the winter months after the sun had set. I finished the last of my drink and my companion and I got up to leave, it was getting late and we needed to get back home quickly.

“No, no!” the Senora told me, “You cannot go now, you will get ‘la bocca chueca’!” Looking at my mystified face she explained to me, “When you drink a hot drink and step out into the cold immediately your mouth will jerk to the side of your face and be stuck.” Of course I had never heard of this and decided to take my chances. I later found out that the same could happen if you drank a cold drink and stepped out immediately into the hot desert air.

You may ask, did it ever really happen? Well, my companion and I pretended it did with a few of the families we had gotten to know well, always with a firm scolding that it wasn’t a laughing matter. They always seemed to know someone with la boca chueca, though in the entire I was there I never saw it happen. πŸ™‚

If you ever journey to Chile and find yourself with a crooked mouth, you can’t say I didn’t warn you! πŸ™‚ heh

What are some of the ‘old wives tales’ or myths you have experienced or heard?


Filed under Chile

5 responses to “La Boca Chueca

  1. That is such an interesting story. I wish I had something to share. I remember really being worried when someone said, “It’ll put hair on your chest.” I was very young at the time and thought it was literally true.

  2. I just realized (though I wasn’t thinking of it at the time) that my earlier comment ties in well with your “Bearded Lady” post.

  3. “If you swallow that watermelon(or any seed) seed a plant will grow out your ears”.

    “Don’t swallow your gum. It stays in your stomach for 7 years.”

    “Don’t make funny faces, a cold wind may come by and it will freeze that way!”

    I’m sure I could come up with some more. My grandma had a million of them.

  4. Deb

    Great story. . .here and at Candid Mom’s.

    Wrist’s only on the dinner table is an Italian thing too. πŸ™‚

  5. I wan’t allowed to drink with my dinner at my Aunts place. I might choke afterall.

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