To Our Readers

He's Treating you like family," was the explanation my wife gave me for the free food I'd received from the proprietor of a small Mexican grill just north of Boston. She and I have visited Roberto's restaurant only a few times in recent years, yet he still remembers us when we walk in.

This time I had come to buy some tamales to take home. With his usual cheerful smile he handed me the container of tamales, but then insisted that I take a few other items for the road, with his compliments. I tried to pay him for the additional food, but he wouldn't accept the money. "That's not surprising," my wife said. She went on to explain that it's often customary in Hispanic households, when you arrive for a visit, for someone there to stop everything and prepare food for you. It doesn't matter what time of day or night you drop by, or even why you're visiting. You're treated hospitably because you're considered family.

March 22, 1999

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