One-Man Melting Pot Makes Up the One-Man Wrestling Team for Mexico
BEIJING — Inside an authentic Mexican restaurant, the mariachi band played “Guantanamera” while the one-man melting pot walked inside. “Hola,” Larry Langowski said.
Only at the Olympics could one expect to find an athlete like Langowski, a self-described Polexican — part Polish, part Mexican — who lives in Chicago, runs the family-owned Italian gelato cafe and is the sole member of the Mexican wrestling team: four cultures blended into one man. He was on his way into a Mexican restaurant that serves an Olympic parrillada: a combination of chicken, beef, chorizo, cheese, fried fish, fresh shrimp and refried beans, served with corn tortillas.
“Taste delicious taco, feel real Olympic,” the menu says. The one-man melting pot is feeling real Olympic these days. He lives in the Olympic Village. He eats in the spacious dining hall. He hopes to run into the American softball player Jennie Finch. Maybe he can explain to her just how he got here, just what he represents.
“I’m the product of different cultures,” Langowski said, finishing off a bowl of tortilla soup. “I’ve been to a lot of cool places, done a lot of cool things. That all pretty much mixes into who I am.”
He can say grandma in three languages. He speaks fluent English and Spanish. At Heavenly, the cafe where his family serves eight types of gelato in the Logan Square neighborhood of Chicago, people mistake him for Italian, even Greek. At Mexican restaurants back home, waitresses ask if he is Cuban after he orders in Spanish.
People gravitate to his story because it seems humorous. (So this Polish guy from Chicago who makes up the Mexican wrestling team walked into a bar. ...)
But there is another story about how he became the melting pot, about how he ended up at these Olympics, wearing a fanny pack with a Mexican flag on it.