chili verde, cheese —
It is a little-known fact that during the the height of the Inca Empire in Mesoamerica, a stranger appeared in a boat on the shores of a vast lake nestled between Peru and Bolivia, at the foot of the Andes mountains. The civilized peoples who found this half-starved, angelic barbarian took a liking to him immediately, thinking that he was a wayward emissary from a powerful god.
Who wouldn’t find themselves enamored with a salty crust of blue-eyed, blonde-haired outlander?
So the citizens of the local village took this stranger in, and tried to communicate with him to find out how he came to be on the shore of an inland body of water — perhaps he had come in by way of a tributary, and could thereby be shown the way back? The idea was solid — that way they could follow him back to his heavenly domain, and perhaps meet the deity who had sent him and present them with a nice gift of beads and live chickens — possibly even an effigy of the sun made of pure gold, if they didn’t have one already.
Unfortunately, all attempts at communication were futile, since they were hard-pressed to make heads or tails of the savage speech of the stranger. They had only just agreed to call him “Wutwut,” which was something he said so often that it certainly had to be his name, when one of the town elders asked the stranger in quite plain and very slow language how he had come to find himself beached at this particular lake, called Titicaca.
The affair that followed may well be one of the least-known meet-cute mega-blunders of all time; upon being asked the aforementioned question, the stranger was beset by bouts of laughter, following which he engaged in a series of hand- and body- gestures which suggested physical acts considered both sacred and unholy by the gentle, civilized Inca. Their initial amusement became outrage; they seized the stranger and transported him over many miles to face justice for his insults.
Time was not kind to the stranger’s crime, and so when he stood before an arbiter the charges that were leveled at him by his accusers were magnified by the time they had spent brooding over the possible meaning of his depredations; unable to defend himself due to language barriers and the inability to catch his breath between bouts of laughter (strangely, they had not subsided in the least,) the arbiter sentenced the stranger to be imprisoned, and to have a road built over that prison so that the Inca may walk over the stranger at all hours, thus having the last laugh.
It is said, then, that as the door to his newly-constructed prison was sealed behind the prisoner, the Inca made one last prayer to their gods that their prisoner be subjected to temptation for all eternity as retribution for his crimes. As they watched, several giant enchiladas fell from the sky and landed around the stranger’s prison, preventing both entry and escape . . . some of the Inca in attendance went mad with uncontrollable desire for the saucy-cheesy, mouth-watery goodness that lay before them like a free birthday meal. Those poor unfortunates rushed toward the mammoth enchiladas, but never made it; their skin turned to ash and fell away from their bones as they approached as a result of the cosmic radiation emitted by the enchiladas.
Those who survived fled, and like civilized people they blogged about it the next day, encoding it into quipu — their only writing system, which consisted of knotted cords. Most of this was lost to antiquity, since it doesn’t hold up as well as engraved stone or even well-preserved parchment; however, one quipu survives of this story, with this moral at the end in all capital knots:
NOTE TO SELF: NEXT TIME, ASK FOR THE RED SAUCE.