Why Is This Popular? B.Y.O.T. (Bring Your Own Tent) Eateries

By Steve Mullaney

Trendspotting is different everywhere, but nowhere is this more apparent in Guatemala where the majority of us walk around puzzled. We try to bring you explanations behind the most confusing trends here in la Ciudad de los Altos. This month’s topic: BYOT (i.e. Bring Your Own Tent) Eateries.

One step above street vendors and one step below the comedor in terms of class are the Bring Your Own Tent Eateries. The BYOT’s will start popping up around nightfall as different folks around town start preparing churrascos (barbeque), paches, tortas and a wide variety of drinks. The most famous BYOT in Xela is in front of the Banrural and features a wide variety of grilled meats and beverages. Run by Doña Betty, this is a reliable BYOT that will be kicking up until around 4 AM (based on personal experience).

Why is this popular? It is 3 AM. You have been enjoying some of the, uh, nightlife establishments and are in need of nourishment before collapsing in your bed. Where else will you go? Your host mom does not want to see you in this state. No restaurants are open. The Crispin bar melted in your pocket. You could eat nothing or you could eat a boatload of meat for Q15.

We’re talking a BOATLOAD of meat. For (depending on the exchange rate as this goes to press because of plummeting foreign currency) less than TWO DOLLARS. Elsewhere you would be paying significantly more for a CANOELOAD of meat, to say nothing of said BOATLOAD.

If you are asking “Is this safe” then the answer is probably no. But if that is the type of question that you find yourself asking with frequency then you should probably go back to Antigua—or better yet go to McDonald’s and stick your head between your knees while breathing deeply. Any minor intestinal inconvenience you may suffer is a small price to pay for amazing post-midnight food. Keep repeating to yourself that this is a cultural experience. (Visiting the laboratory is also a cultural experience, so 2 for 1).

In all seriousness, your noble XW columnist has never been made sick by any BYOT Establishment. Pupusas? Yes. This? No. While I’m certainly not a doctor of medicine, I am a doctor of deliciousness and I give an A+ to all late-night BBQ specials.

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