Judgement on the rocks
Life lesson at the bar
"All the tables are occupied, but there's space at the bar." As we settled into chairs that left our feet dangling, the names of the streets caught my attention – Oscar Wilde, Julio Verne, and Virgilio. I envisioned an alternate reality at that moment, giving my address as if I were citing a literary study.
We are in the bursting Licorería Limantour, nestled in the heart of Polanco in Mexico City. This gem, ranked 7th in the World's 50 Best Bars of 2023, whispered promises of an extraordinary experience.
At the bar, an impressive array of premium liquors competes for attention, making the already overwhelming cocktail menu even harder to decipher. Amidst the choices, I sought freshness and discovered a mix with green apples.
It's a safe bet, my usual type of order.
The mixologist's movements were a dance swift and assured in every pour. In the blink of an eye, our elixirs materialized before us like magic in a glass. I tasted mine, and the apple flavor burst forth, yet it didn't overshadow the other flavors.
"Taste mine," he says. I pick up the glass with salt on the rim and sip. My lips tingle. "The salt is very strong," I say as I grimace, "but it's tasty."
"It's Sal de Gusano," he says.
I pause, "why is it called like that?" I didn't really want to know, yet I was pretty sure about the answer.
"It's toasted and ground up worms with salt. Did you like it?"
I wipe my lips with my napkin like a nervous food critic fearing a taste bud rebellion, trying to eliminate the tingling sensation. Worms of any kind are part of my disastrous cup of horrors, protagonists of my childhood nightmares, part of my fatal parade of chills, and I had residue of that on my lips. Desperate to shift the narrative, I take a sip of my drink and bite into a tuna tostada, trying to add new flavors to my mouth.
"What? I just had something made out of worms in my mouth!" I say, trying not to sound melodramatic like the whiny sidekick in a B-grade horror movie. I've always had a Godzilla-level aversion to any insect that crawls.
"Did you like it?" he repeats. "Yes," I reply after a pause, almost defeated, "It's actually a fantastic drink."
He pushes the glass over to me. Despite my lingering aversion to the word 'worm,' I consciously try to suppress it and take another controlled sip. Against my logic, I find myself enjoying it. The realization hits me: had I known what the glass contained, I would have never dared to try it.
Those close to me have often pointed out my tendency to form quick judgments, but I consider this trait an inherent part of myself. There's nothing I can do. Sadly, judging things, situations, and even people comes naturally to me as a smartphone autocorrecting to 'ducking.'
My awareness of my constant judging made me see the growth that hides behind the opposite: questioning our assumptions. That practice makes us more conscious of our beliefs, biases, and preconceived notions. That heightened awareness allows us to reevaluate our perspectives and consider alternative viewpoints.
As a result, you make choices based on a deeper understanding of yourself and the world around you. Rather than operating on autopilot –which is the state I'm permanently trying to avoid– we align our lives with our authentic selves and make intentional decisions.
That's deliberate living.
In the world of flavors, as in life, unexpected and sometimes squirmy ingredients contribute to the most memorable experiences. Reflecting on this, I've recognized that, rather than succumbing to judgmental aversion, I'm working on actively cultivating an appreciation for the pleasure of unpredictability. I'm convinced there's something truly memorable in embracing the unexpected.