Jay International Foods
3172 South Grand Boulevard

If at first you gag, gulp, gulp again. That's my creed. Or at least it was until I tried to ingest the contents of a fifteen-ounce jar of Margarita Cueritos en Vinagre y Vegetales.

Now, our neighbors to the south have brought plenty of delicacies to the global potluck: mole, tacos al carbón, flan...the list goes on, but pickled pig skin (in this particular incarnation, "cured pork rinds and vegetables") is not on it. The jar itself reminds me of those biology-class vessels of yesteryear that held decomposing animal organs suspended in a cloudy solution.

The aroma is one part vinegar, two parts putrefaction. Eating the stuff? It's like kissing a cold cow's tongue, if said tongue is steeped in vinegar, flecked with fatty globules and possesses the oozing consistency of clotted bacon grease. Any pretensions to structural integrity are now a long way back in the rearview mirror.

There are times when the body rejects what the mind wills. This is one of those times.

Even as I detect emanating from my own corporeal being the bilious spit that precedes a good retching, I attempt to swallow. No go. Not this pig. Before you can say boot, the glutinous mass spews forth, landing atop the cutting board with a shimmering plop.

Closer inspection of the jar turns up a sell-by date of 07/29/2002. Now, nearly four years later, no amount of salivary overtime can rid the mouth of this cuerito nightmare. The only recourse: a shot of Target brand mint mouthwash ($2.29 for 1.5 liters; compare to Cool Mint Listerine), straight, no chaser.

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