Seats were hard to come by at Brooklyn Museum’s cafe tonight. I had just sat down and was tucking into a very good plate of pernil, rice and beans and plantains when another pair of women came up to the table. “Is anyone sitting here?” they asked hopefully.
“By all means,” I said, gesturing to the chairs. They sat gratefully; they’d decided to claim seats first, and then one would get food for them both while the other stood sentry. I politely ignored them, focusing on my food; the crowds were big enough that I figured it’d be safer to eat fairly quickly and make way for someone else. Plus it was really good pernil.
“It looks like they have a decent hot entree,” one of the women said to the other, looking at my plate. “But I’m not sure what that is – is that chicken or turkey?” she asked, turning to me. However, that was the exact second I’d just put a huge bite of pernil into my mouth. I chewed a couple times, then apologetically pointed at my closed mouth and bulging cheeks. The woman chuckled her own apology. We all sat an awkward second as I chewed.
It was a big piece of pernil.
Then, just as the women were turning back to each other to speculate more about the food, I had an idea. I held up a finger to get their attention, then pushed back the tip of my nose, showing the women my nostrils.
They blinked a second, then figured it out. “Oh, it’s pork!” I flashed them a thumbs-up, and turned back to my pernil as they chuckled and went on discussing the menu.
Probably not the accepted sign language term, but it got the point across.