Love Your Madre


Dear Mexican:

I heard that Mexicans at a candy factory in Orange County, California, think they saw the Virgin Mary in a pile of melted chocolate. Why do Mexicans always see the Virgin Mary in the stupidest things?

Non-Believer Beaner

Dear Beaner:

It’s not just Mexicans who find the Holy Mother in weird places. Remember the Florida gabacha who insisted that the Virgin Mary had revealed herself on a grilled cheese sandwich, then sold it for $28,000? Skeptics dismiss that sandwich and the Chocolate Madonna — a 2-inch pillar of chocolate drippings discovered on August 13 by Mexican workers at Bodega Chocolates in Fountain Valley, California — as examples of pareidolia. That’s the moment when you make something out of nothing (Rorschach ink blots, for instance, or But the widespread sneers that greeted the Chocolate Madonna also reveal Protestant America’s continued dismissal of Catholic Mexico, an impulse as old as Elizabethan England and imperial Spain. It allows gabachos to degrade Mexicans as superstitious pendejos unworthy of respect or amnesty, primarily because our Catholicism allows for apparitions, and Mexicans keep seeing Jesus, Mary and the santos in chocolate, tortillas (por favor, visit the Shrine of the Holy Tortilla in Lake Arthur, New Mexico) and butcher-shop calendars. So go ahead and laugh, gabacho America and nonbelieving wabs, but refry this: That the divine mostly manifests itself to Mexicans is just a reiteration of the Nazarene’s Sermon on the Mount and further proof that we’re The Chosen Juans.

Dear Mexican:

A friend recently asked me how to say motherfucker in Spanish. I was stumped. The closest thing I could think of was puta madre, which literally translates as whore mother. Is there a Mexican phrase that means motherfucker?
Gabacho Grosero

Dear Vulgar Gabacho:

The closest Mexican Spanish equivalent to motherfucker is Chinga tu madre, or Go fuck your mother. But that’s not the same. Truth is, there are no proper calques for motherfucker in Mexican Spanish. (A calque is a phrase translated word-for-word from one language to another, not how you fix a leak.) But there are more than enough curses in Mexican Spanish using madre as their root. As a noun, madre can mean anything from shit (as in No vale madre, or It isn’t worth shit) to ass (in which Te voy a partir la madre translates into I’m going to split for you the mother but really means I’m going to kick your fucking ass). Madre is also an adverb: Te voy a dar un chingazo en la madre translates to I’m going to give you a fucking blow in the mother but really means I’m going to give you a fucking blow where it hurts the most. You can also tell cabrones, Vete a la madre, which doesn’t mean Go to the mother but rather Go to hell. Add an -ar suffix to madre, and you have the verb madrear, which means to fuck someone up. For example, if you tell your mom Te voy a madrear, you’re not telling her that you’re going to mother her but are letting mami know that you’re going to kick her fucking ass. Shame on you.

Pero, wait — there’s more. A mutation of madrear, madrazo, denotes a harmful blow. Te voy a dar un madrazo is I’m going to give you a fucking punch. Hijo/a de tu madre, means Son/daughter of your mother, but it is a phrase used by parents to express disgust for their children — tell that to your mom, and she’ll reward your biological insight with a madrazo to the face. You can even turn the most benign form of mother, mamá, into a crude insult: Take off the accent, and you’re left with mama, the present indicative form of mamar, which means to suck. And when you say that, you ain’t telling a baby how to get the milk from a bottle.

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