By the month of November of 2011, my family was so happy because we were going to Puerto Rico to visit our grandmother. Family from everywhere, Virginia, New York, California, and my cousin Fernando who was in the navy and he was in Germany. My grandmother was so happy that all of her five kids, grand kids and one great grandson were going. She was cooking for all the family, preparing the pasteles, morcillas, empanadillas, a lot of food, By December 21th all the pasteles were done the morcillas and even the empanadillas. She had presents for everyone (not expensive things), but everyone was grateful. Everything was ready, plates, cups, the Christmas decoration. On December 22, my uncle Luis from PR call everyone to let us know that grandma was very ill. Some of the family had to booked the flights in advance, but unfortunately “abuela” passed away on the 24th and everyone was devastated. On Christmas everyone went to PR and got to eat, and everyone got their presents from “Abuelita.”
Dona Carmela By Becky Aviles
Dona Carmela was the grandmother of the neighborhood. She loved to cook and she was good at it. She always cooked huge quantities of food and shared it with all the neighbors. Everyone loved her food because it tastes so good. The neighbors started wondering one day when they realized that she kept cooking large quantities of food but stop sharing her food with the people in the neighborhood. Thats when 2 curious kids decided to follow her. Dona Carmela was going to the trees close to the beach everyday at dusk. She would go from her house to the trees and back several time every evening. The kids realized she was taking pots and pans full of food and place them under a tree close to the beach shore. Her last trip would culminate by taking a full gallon of water. She would do this in a sneaky careful way to ensure no one saw her. The children kept watching her wondering why she eas placing food in the area until one day they saw couple of boats coming from the open ocean to the shore. Many hungry dehydrated, hungry men got out the little boats and came ashore. The kids heard the man telling each other: WHERE IS IT? WHERE IS IT? IT’S SUPPOSED TO BE UNDER THE TREES ! and the men would quitely come ashore and start looking until they found the food. They ate the food and drank the water. It was the immigrants from the dominican republic! Dona Carmela made sure they had a full meal after such a risky trip looking for a better future in Puerto Rico. Thr kids ran back to the neighborhood and spread the news. The people in the neighborhood then started helping dona carmela cooking everyday and placing pota full of food under the trees ti welcome our dominican neighbors that would.come to our shores every night. It became a community effort and has been passed by generations.
La Gran Seňora “Cagüeña – Doňa Milla By Blanca Salva
Doňa Milla was tall, statuesque like an amazon warrior queen.
She was both beautiful and strong and feared by most.
Her eyes glistened like diamonds; her pale white skin was a sharp contrast to her auburn hair,
Her smile was like a beacon guiding you to her light.
Her hands were large but her touch gentle like a mountain breeze.
She walked slowly and heavy, her body swayed as if dancing with the earth beneath her.
Her mighty arms raised high, hands gripped tightly over her weapon, and with one swift
movement she cuts the throat of the large beast and continues down the center of the beast’s
She watches as the blood runs down into the vessel placed beneath it, smiling at her
good work and thanking the animal and the Gods for this gift that she will share with others.
EL MATE By Dante Fernando Larzabal
En Uruguay, Argentina y otras partes de suramerica el mate es muy consumido. La palabra “mate” tiene su origen en le vocablo quechua “mati” que quiere decir calabaza, para beber la infusión se utiliza una cañita o bombilla, generalmente se toma entre varias personas en una rueda compartiendo y conversando. El ritual de la infusión practicado por los nativos resultaba una suerte de amenaza para los recién llegados europeos que desconocián tal práctica y sus efectos. Se condenó a los tomadores de mate por considerarlos “haraganes”, sosteniendo que este rito paralizaba durante muchas horas al día sin otra justificación que el “ocio.”
De hecho, todo intento de erradicación del mate fracasó rotundamente (risas)
Bebemos mate en el campo, en las ciudad, antes, después, durante el trabajo, en las playas y paseos, incluso en las calles….beben los ricos , los pobres , los jovenes , los viejos , los politicos, las madres …. hay una concepción del mundo y de la vida….el rito del mate vence las tendencias del aislamiento y empareja las clases sociales.
Los teclados de las computadoras tienen las letras llenas de yerba. La yerba es lo único que hay siempre, en todas las casas. Siempre. Con inflación, con hambre, con militares, con democracia, con cualquiera de nuestros problemas eternos. Y si un día no hay yerba, un vecino tiene y te da.
La yerba no se le niega a nadie.
La gran mayoría no irá a ningún lado sin su mate y un termo con agua caliente. Sin embargo, son los Urugayos los mas consumidores, que serían absolutamente capaces de tomar mate y de montar sus bicicletas al mismo tiempo.
El beber mate es un asunto muy social; se bebe mate generalmente entre amigos y la familia….como en el Facebook, cuanto mas grande es el mate…. mas “likes,” cuando nuestros hijos toman timidamente su primer mate (antes del anio porsupuesto) le sacamos una foto y lo posteamos en facebook como padres orgullosos, es que el gen del “mate” esta en el “disco duro”.
Algunos por circuntancias de la vida toman mate solos…..y el mate pasa a ser su compania.
Pero adviértase – la primera vez que lo intente, por más aventurero que sea, lo encontrará probablemente muy amargo , y no hay cosa mas linda de ver que la cara de un gringo bebiendo su primer mate (imitando al gringo succionar con cara fea)…………….delicioso!!!!
El que te ofrezcan el mate es una muestra de la amistad, y ser incluido en una ronda de mate significa que te han aceptado. Sin embargo no debes relajarse aún. Un asombroso e intrincado sistema de reglas y de regulaciones gira alrededor del arte de beber mate. Si cometes un error podrías convertirte en el objeto de burlas despiadadas
# Cuando alguien le ofrece algo para tomar siempe decimos “gracias” con el mate “NO”!!! Nunca digas “gracias” …. sera tomado como un “no quiero mas!!, salvo que no quiera mas.
# Beber todo el contenido , nadie quiere tus sobras … sabras cuando termines por que la bombilla hara un ruido particular como yyy yyyy fff (como cuando terminas un milkshake )
# Tomarlo rapido se considera descortes y demorarlo tambien , ya que hay otras personas esperando que usted termine , tiene que termimarlo en 3 o 4 sorbos, ese es el tiempo justo
# Bajo ninguna razón se le ocurra sacar la bombilla del mate o, peor aun, no intente revolver el mate. Si usted lo llegara a hacer, oirá gritos de horror y el mate será arrebatado de sus manos inmediatamente, como si usted fuera casi un terrorista…………
Cuando vemos un mate, vemos nuestra cultura, nuestros amigos, nuestra familia, nuestros hijo ………un mate ?
El Asado a la Brases
By Ernesto Luna
Para mi el asado es más que una comida típica o tradicional de mi país.
Para mi el asado tiene memoria, memoria viva.
Tiene un dejo de silencio y la desgarradora melodía de un tango.
Tiene el sabor al viejo (mi padre) que ya no está. Y el sentimiento de toda una familia que sentados a la mesa no solo nos pasábamos el pan y la ensalada sino nos íbamos pasando los instantes…
Y los instantes son mucho más que fragmentos diminutos de tiempo contenidos en el tiempo.
Tiempo que se convierte en memoria y ¿qué seríamos los humanos sin nuestros recuerdo
El asado los fines de semana nos juntaba y nos hacía olvidar que éramos pobres.
Porque comíamos como reyes y reíamos como bufones como si fuera necesario a veces exagerarle a la risa para que esta se quedara grabada como una música infinita en una cinta de película.
Mi padre jamás reveló la receta de cómo realmente hacía el asado porque como él no lo hace nadie. El sabor que le daba a la carne era único.
Yo por ejemplo jamás hice un asado y nunca lo haré. Eso es una cuestión de respeto para con el viejo. A parte yo se que si yo hiciera un asado él estaría de alguna manera allí solo para reírse de mi y decir. – El mío es mucho más rico.
La jornada cuando había asado en casa, comenzaba temprano en la mañana.
Hacer las compras. La carne, las verduras, la bebida.
Luego llegar a casa preparar un mate amargo, prender la radio en la estación de tango o folclore y comenzar a picar el perejil y el ajo para hacer el chimichurri. Eso lo hacia el viejo mientras mi madre preparaba junto a mis hermanas las distintas ensaladas y el postre.
A mi me tocaba la parte pesada de ir a buscar la leña y acomodarla debajo del parrillero. Eso me daba la oportunidad de observar y disfrutarlos desde mi punto de vista, ya siempre me hice a un lado para mirar la vida desde otras perspectivas.
Cuando estaba listo el chimichurri mi padre apagaba su cigarrillo y guardaba el mate porque era tiempo de una picada para engañar al estómago y ahí se abría una cerveza. Jamás daba el primer trago sin tirar un chorro generoso de la bebida en el patio. Eso era como un ritual.
Una vez le pregunté ¿por qué hacia eso?_ y me respondió que era para convidar a los que ya no están. Los amigos y la familia que les tocó irse antes.
Los que se fueron vuelven en forma espiritual y comparten con nosotros un día en familia._ me dijo. Eso me quedó grabado a fuego. Aun cierro mis ojos y escucho el ruidito de la carne correando sobre las brazas y me parece ver ese humo blanco que parecía respirar aquellas almas que venían desde el más allá a compartir con nosotros un día en familia.
Desde entonces yo hago lo mismo. Lo empecé a hacer desde que él se fue. Para que vuelva y escuche las risas de los que aún seguimos aquí luchándola.
Cuando ya casi estaba todo listo alguien traía una guitarra, un bandoneón y hasta a veces un violín. A mi madre le brillaban los ojos ya que sabía que tarde o temprano le tocaría cantar un par de tangos como ella lo hacía; con los ojos cerrados para no sentir vergüenza y sentir en el alma la música.
Eso era un asado en mi casa, no una simple comida; eran instantes que vuelven como los espíritus de los que partieron antes… vuelven y en silencio nos recuerdan
Lo importante que es la familia y los amigos.
Recuerdos de Mi Abuela By Flor M. Gomez
I met my grandmother when I was 11 years old, she is the most amazing women I have ever met. She was small and had long white hair to her waist. She would braid her hair and tie it to the back of her head. Every evening she will sit in the porch with a bowl (“dita” made from a native plant) and shell the beans my grandfather grew in his garden.
We all gather around her to listen to her stories and jokes. I loved her laughter and I felt so warm and safe when I was with her. By 8:00 pm everyone was back home, uncles, aunts, cousins and grandchildren. We all gathered at the living room and Mama (grandma) would start the pray the rosary. When she finished everyone would leave to their rooms or homes and she would close the door. No one would come in or leave the house once she closed the door (it was an unspoken rule).
Since I was the youngest I would sleep with “mama”. I would watch her un-tie her braided white hair and comb it before going to bed. Those were the happiest moments of my life because I had her all for myself.
She was the first to get up in the mornings, she would open the front door and I would watch how the rays of the sun would surround her (she looked like an angel). She would say “Que entre la gracia de Dios” “Let the grace of God enter”.
To this day every morning when I see the sunrise I say “Que entre la gracia de Dios.”
Tostones By Jason Estremera
It wasn’t really my grandmother who reminded me of my favorite food. That was a lie. I was afraid to tell the truth because I would have revealed a darker side to my story.
Every time that I bite into a tostone, the sound of the crunch beneath my teeth reminds me of how my father would grind his teeth whenever he ate anything but ESPECIALLY tostones. He was a very high-strung person and for the longest time I remembered him as a shadow. He was there, but I never saw him. He was a slave to corporate America. Wildly successful, he made a point of it to continue climbing the ranks because he was raised in a house with very little of anything.
His family struggled financially but they struggled socially because they were brown. Racism was something he grew accustomed to as a child and as a young adult. He vowed to show the world that he would make something of himself. And he did. That meant though, we barely saw him. I would wake up and he’d be gone and he would return from work very late.
As soon as my father’s car door would slam shut in the driveway, immediately you heard the sizzle of a tostone frying in the pan. He would make us sit at the table with him as he ate, even though we were not eating. These “family dinners” were so terribly awkward. Most times, we said nothing. The only sound would be the crispy tostones grinding between my father’s teeth.
I remember there was snow on the ground when the sound of the door closing and the plantain hitting the grease stopped. One day, my father just stopped coming home. He left us. I later realized that my mother and he were never married. My father became the success he dreamt of but that meant certain inconveniences could no longer exist. This is the real story of how I moved from Chicago back to Cleveland. This also reveals that the person everybody is familiar with as my current father is actually not my father.
Arroz y Pollo By Kevin Orozco-Cruz
Todos los sabados, cuando yo era muy chiquito, mis padres siempre cocinavan arroz y pollo. No es un dish especial, pero los memorias que tengo es priceless. Mi mama cocinava el arros y habichuelas, y mi papa cocino el pollo con salsa. Mi Hermana y yo preparamos la mesa de comedor y jugamos musica de Elvis Crespo y Marco Antonio Solis. Los sentamos and told each other stories, and bonded like a family.
One day, My sister and I both lost our parents, and our tradition ended. We were all by ourselves and starting drifting away from whatever family we had left. Becoming very dark times for both of us.
During Johanna’s final day before moving to another country, Mi hija y yo fuimos a la casa de mi hermana, y ella y yo cosinamos arros y pollo, y los nuestros hijos set up the dining room table. Jugamos el cancion “Mi Eterno Amor Secrete” de Marco Antonio Solis. All four of us sat around the table, and bonded with each other and our babies like a small family. Having our mom and dad in our thoughts.
Gallo Pinto By Liney Cintron
I think food unites people and that’s how I feel when I eat a plate of “gallo pinto.” Being far away from your loved ones is hard but enjoying a tasty reminder of something you hold dear fills not only your tummy but your heart as well. This is my soul food and it has connected me with a culture different from my own. I am Puerto Rican and “gallo pinto” is a traditional Costa Rican dish. It’s special to me because my dear boyfriend is native to Costa Rica and is currently living there. It was a typical meal we would share in the mornings. Even though we are apart I can prepare it myself and feel closer. I love to indulge in a flavorful reminder of the things I feel in love with; the Tico culture, Costa Rica and him of course.
This seasoned rice dish holds a story of its own. Much affection bursts in the national conscience for this humble yet tasty combination of rice and beans. It is served during breakfast time in Costa Rica and it consists of rice, red or black beans, onions, green bell peppers, cilantro, garlic and the secret ingredient Costa Rican Salsa Lizano! This bottle can be hard to come by. Dispute exists between the Nicas (Nicaraguans) and Ticos (Costa Ricans) as to where it originated. Here is a background from Grettel Calderon:
The history of gallo pinto is not well known, and there have always been disputes between Costa Ricans and Nicaraguans about where the dish originated. Some historic references takes us to the Atlantic, where is was first mentioned in literature in the book Mamita Yunai by Carlos Luis Fallas, a Costa Rican historic novel, where the workers of the banana plantations, not only Costa Ricans but Nicaraguans learned to eat it and then the Nicaraguans took it to Nicaragua where it became a traditional meal.
Why the name Gallo Pinto (spotted, multicolored or speckled rooster)? Some people say because it used to be eaten in a tortilla, anything you put on top of a tortilla is called a ‘gallo’, plus the blotchy red and white colors of the rice and the red beans are similar to the feathers of the spotted/speckled roosters you find at the farms. Others say it could have been a reference to the ‘spotted rooster” which is the bravest of the pen or farm and at that time the rooster fights were very common.
The Nicaraguans tell a funny story though of a guy under the name of don Alfredo, a rich farmer who had a very healthy speckled rooster we was fattening up for roasting. As the day of the feast approached don Alfredo would invite everyone he saw on the street, after of course bragging about the size of the rooster, etc. The day of the feast everyone in the village showed up expecting their juicy piece of the rooster. After seen the amount of people who attended Don Alfredo realize he had made a mistake, no matter how fat the rooster was, there was no way to feed everyone with it. He then rushed to the kitchen and asked his maids to cook a huge pile of rice and beans which he gave to the invitees so they wouldn’t go home hungry. It was pretty disappointing for the villagers who, in the days to follow the ‘feast’ began to mock proud don Alfredo, asking each other questions like ‘did you enjoy don Alfredo’s Gallo Pinto?’ and from there the name stuck.
Café con Leche By Liz Gonzalez
Café con leche it like going back to my childhood, how every morning papi would wake me up for school. He would start making the black coffee first then he would add milk next he’ll add two spoons of sugar and cut a piece of bread mmm! The smell of coffee would take over the house and it would feel like I was in Puerto Rico with my whole family. Café con leche WAS something special for me, like a father and daughter time we would share. We would sit for hour and talk about how life was going to get better by the minute. Now things aren’t the way it use to be, we’re just drinking coffee and nothing more of it. We don’t even talk like we use to. We just get into fights non-stop now. I feel like I lost my best friend that special feeling is gone.
Chile Rellenos By Luis Ramirez-Alonso
The dish I most remember, it’s chile rellenos, stuffed poblano peppers filled with ground beef and seasonal fruits , then dipped in a delicate egg whites batter and fried … It’s a very laborious dish, you have to buy the perfect peppers, wash them, grill them, peel them and wash them and dried them all up … Served with fluffy Mexican rice and a ranchera sauce (a base of chicken stock salsa with roasted tomatoes, grilled peppers, fresh onion and crisp cilantro, it can take good 5 or 6 hours for a couple of peppers .
What it makes this dish so special is that my mom cooked this dish for me right before I left Mexico … I was 17 and we have had a struggling relationship, I wasn’t raised by her and even though I had forgotten that she left me behind , deep inside me I was still holding a grudge , tall and big, I was still a kid that kept wondering what I had done wrong for her to leave me … That day that she cooked for me, I felt that it was her way of making peace with me, somehow it made me feel that way … We joke around, talked about me leaving , candidly talked about this and that , at one point her husband called at the phone and she told him she was busy … She really devoted herself to me that day , even though 6 hours of distance would separate us, it was like I was leaving for China, she wanted to fill her memories of me, and I was just enjoying my mom, for all those years that passed .
Right after we finished eating … I hold all the courage I had on me and decided to tell her that I was gay … She hugged me and started crying … And she said the words I would never forget: I’m not crying because you’re gay, I’m crying because you might never find someone to love and to grow old with … But no matter what, I will always be here with you, if not by distance, but by heart … If God keep me alive, I will be there for you.
Ceviche By Monica Cerpa-Zuniga
My grandma, who I called Mama Justa, and I shared the same room for most of my life until she passed away when she was 84 in 1990.
I have beautiful memories of her and one of them is how we had these parties at home where there was dancing, drinking and a lot of eating. It has always been intriguing to me that we never ran out of food during these parties. She would prepare food in these HUGE pots enough for everybody to enjoy during the night. Dancing and partying could go until 4 or 5 in the morning even on a weekday, during the work week.
If you had your birthday fall on the middle of the week, it didn’t matter, that was day to celebrate, even though you had to work the next day. And on top if it Mama Justa would lock the door so nobody could leave. I don’t remember but maybe it was by the time she was falling sleep that she would let people go.
My mom, Mama Justa, was a great cook, gosh !!!! I truly miss that touch of true flavor in the meals she prepared. Mama Justa is my mom’s mom, Mama Alicia. Mama Alicia has graciously tried to be a good cook but it is just not her thing. However my dad, mmmmmm, he inherited my grandma’s cooking skills. He would be in the kitchen asking my grandma what she was doing and how she was preparing it and he learned. No recipes, measuring cups, just following your taste or feeling for what you were cooking. He can prepare anything and everything, sometimes he is shy about, some other times he cannot hide his pride.
Ceviche is one of our well known Peruvian dishes. After so many years trying to get it right, FINALLY, this year I was able to prepare it. My parents were visiting for the holidays in December and January and I watched my dad prepare the Ceviche step by step, no recipe, no measured ingredients just the right skills to make it come true. Now I can prepare it anytime I want to and feel like home again, in Peru, helping my dad when he cooks, assisting washing pots and utensils while keeping track of what he is doing. Yes, I learned to cook from him. . . . . . and from my Mama Justa too, I can say, since that is how my dad got it.
Mano Santa By Neyda Burgos
Hablando con Rafael, vinieron muchas memorias de mi infancia. Recordaba a mi Mami en la cocina cantando y preparandonos yerba buena para el malestar de estomago o te de jengibre. El aroma recorría por toda la casa. Todo era preparado naturalmente con los ingredientes caseros recogidos de la huerta.
Mami era la mejor en hacer remedios caseros. Recuerdo que siempre iba mucha gente a mi casa a buscar los remedios ya preparados o simplemente a buscar plantas medicinales. Entre ellos en especial el llantén; que lo buscaban mucho los pacientes de cancer o el te de maguey para ayudar con el asma.
Lo mas que me gustaba de todo era escuchar los testimonios de las personas decir como mi mama los habia ayudado a curar. Le decian “Mano Santa”…y de verdad era asi.Tanto que mi hermano mayor, ya casado y residiendo en la zona metropolitana viajaba a nuestra casa cuando estaba enfermo para que mami lo curara. El confiaba ciegamente en ella..mucho mas que en los doctores. De hecho cuando su esposa enfermó de Culebrilla (Shingles)…Mami fue la que la curó..
Talking to Rafael, came many memories of my childhood. I remembered my mom in the kitchen singing and preparing good grass for the discomfort of stomach or ginger tea. The Aroma traveled throughout the house. Everything was of course prepared with homemade ingredients collected from the orchard.
Mommy was the best at doing home remedies. I remember that many people come to my house to seek the remedies already prepared or simply to look for medicinal plants. Among them especially” Yanten;” seeking so much for cancer patients or “Maguey” to help with asthma.
Most that I liked was hearing the testimonies of the people saying how my mom had helped to cure. They called her “Holy Hand”…and really she was…that my older brother, already married and residing in the metropolitan area was traveling to our house when he was sick so mami healed it. He trusted blindly in it…much more than in doctors. In fact when his wife was sick with shingles…Mami was who cured it…
Magic Mole By Olga Rosado
There was once a child
Habia una vez un nino
Que vivia muy triste y acongojado
He was very sad and in grieving
Sus padres discutian constantemente
His parents were arguing constantly
Y no habia paz en el hogar
There was no peace in the home.
The only times that he remembers
La unica occasion que el recordaba
De felicidad, risas y paz
Of happiness, laughter and peace
Era cuando en ocasiones especiales
Was when special occasions
La famiia se reunia para hacer mole
The family was all together to make mole
Entonces, todo era risa, felicidad, paz y armonia
Then everything was laughter, happiness, peace and harmony.
Esta era la vision que El Nino tenia and deseaba por siiempre.
That was what he envisioned and desired forever.
Cuando el nino crecio y se hizo hombre
When the child grew up and became a man
Desarrollo un brevaje (formula magica)
He developed a magic formula
La cual agregaba, secretamente
Which he used, secretly
En el mole que preparaba
In the mole that he made.
Cuando la gente en el pueblo comian de el mole
The people in town, who were eating his mole
Tan pronto miraban a una persona directamente a sus ojos
As soon as they looked into each others’ eyes
Quedaban perdidamente enamorados
They were falling in love immediately
Sin explicacion alguna
Without any explanation
La gente se casaba y eran muy felices
People were getting married and they were happy.
Las gente solo sabia de sentimientos de alegria, paz y felicidad
People only knew about feelings of peace and happiness
Al pasar el tiempo
As some time went by…
Las personas comenzaron a quedar atrapados en la rutina de la vida diaria y sus preocuaciones
People started to be in the trap of the daily living routine and preocupations.
Tan pronto como las personas comenzaron a cuestionar el porque se habian enamorado
As soon as people started to question the reason why they fell in love
La pocion magica
The magic recipie
Comenzaba a tener resultados negativos
Started to have negative effects
Entonces, todo lo que habia sido senimientos de alegria, paz y felicidad
Then, everything that was feelings of laughter, peace and happiness
Se tornaba en sentimientos de ira, infelicidad y odio
Turned into feelings of anger, regret and hate
Para el nino que se convirtio en hombre
For the child who became a man
Pensando que todo en la vida es felicidad
Thinking that everything in life is happiness
He discovered, probably too late
El quizas tarde descubrio
Que la vida es un balance
That life is about a balance
Entre la alegria y la tristeza
Between happiness and sadness
Que cuando la alegria entra con los rayos el sol en la manana
That when the happiness in coming through you window with the drops of sun in the morning
La tristeza duerme an la oscuridad de agun Rincon
Your sadness is sleeping in a dark corner
Esperando a que el sol se esconda
Waiting to the sun to come down.
Pablo’s Grandma’s Dish By Pablo Santiago
My grandma maked the most delicious food dishes. She put that special ingredient on the plates that up to these dates I don’t know what it was. That sazon and flavor was always there. One of my favorite dish from her was Guanimes con Bacalao (Cod Fish). She don’t make it often. But when she make them (Pero cuando los hacia) “Ay mi madre” the pot was empty. It was the favorite of many in our family.
I remembered how the smell of Bacalao (Cod Fish) was all over the house and how she tried to showed me how to do make the Guanimes. La harina (the flour) stick in my fingers and covered all my body trying to help mi abuelita (grandma). She look at me and laugh and joke about it.
Right before she become ill and ended in the hospital we have a big dinner in our house and guess what? Guanimes con bacalao were the main dish. It was at the hospital when I was right next to the bed that she told me “No te preocupes mijo que yo te hago los Guanimes cuando salga de aqui ” (Don’t worry I will make you Guanimes when I left from here. It was the look on her face what strucked me. I saw that look you give to someone when you say goodbye knowing that you wont see it again. Something tell me inside that was her farewell. I remember that I look down, wipe my eyes and ask for la bendicion (bless), kiss her in the cheek and left. I never return to the hospital I want to remember her like that. Love you Grandma and whenever you are I know that your sazon and flavor is there.
2 cups corn flour
¼ teaspoonful anise in grain
1 cup coconut milk
1 teaspoonful of salt
½ cup of honey
In a medium bowl mix all the ingredients up to forming a doughy mixture. Wash the banana sheets and divide them in pieces. Form 8 sorullos. In the center of every sheet place the mixture. Roll up ends and tie up with drawstring. In a medium casserole warm 8 water cups with 1 teaspoonful of salt. Place the guanimes and cook for 20 to 25 minutes. *Note some people don’t wrap their sorullos in anything, they simply drop the sorrullitos in boiling salted water. Guanimes can be made using plantains or even flour as well as cornmeal.
2-3 lbs cod fish, fresh or salted, FLAKED
4 large spanish onions, sliced
6 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 green pepper, sliced (bell pepper)
1 4-oz can tomato sauce
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsps sofrito
1 packet Sazon
Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in in a large skillet.Add sliced onions and peppers. Cook until onions are tender. Add tomatoes and remaining olive oil. Cook for 5 minutes. Mix in remaining ingredients. Bring to a simmer, cover, and let simmer for 10-15 minutes.
**NOTE: If using salted cod fish, you MUST either soak the fish overnight in cold water OR boil the fish to remove the excess salt BEFORE cooking.
The extreme heat in this container, the lack of water and food started to make struggle on me. I am not this body. My times as obrero worker are left behind. I am going to miss all my coworkers at the factory and the day that those thugs treat me because I was part of the union. Everything went down since the factory close. I did everything to bring food to the table. I have a big family. I could not sleep for day trying to find out how to get out of this misery. One day I told Maria, my wife that I was going North, to find work. It was that or to become a murder for the drug cartels. There is not future here Maria! I had to borrow money from my family and friends to the journey. I made a decision. I wasn’t going see my children’s die of hungry in front of me. The day that I left. It was a beautiful morning of early spring. It was so painful to left them. That day has been embedded in my heart forever as a tattoo. The sing of the cock and the smell of my woman’s hair in the bed. The day that I saw her for the first time. I ‘ve never tought that I was going to leave her. I never thought that we were going to suffer so much.
You remind me to my wife. You don’t talk so much. Do you have a story a family? I will take care of you. Don’t worry everything will be ok.
I don’t think that Maria slept that night, she was silent. She put some tamales and can’s of food in my bag. I kissed my children’s before they wake up. “Take care of your brother and sister” I told my older son Jose. He is a dedicated student, a little shy but with a lot of talents. Rolando the second one, he was always afraid of everything, really sensitive person. The nights with rain , he ran to our bed to hide under the covers. He was afraid of lighting. I hiss him and touch his softly hair. My grandmother used to call him little chicken, because one day Maria dressed in yellow. Since then he is Pollito. Right next to him was it was Sandy my princess. I broke up in tears to say good bye to her. She was going to suffer the most my absence. We were really attach each other. I cleaned my tears and kiss her making sure not to wake her up. I had to go. A nut in my throat avoid me to speak. I kissed and hug my wife and look inside of her deep browns eyes. She is a strong women. The decision has been taking, I was going to the US, to make dollars and send those to my family. A lot of young people in the town and some fathers like me did the same. We did not hear what happened to some of them and some others came in a really bad condition months later. But the stories of the immigrants coming from the south and crossing Mexico were worst. Mexico is a hell to cross for them. The beast, the train that transport them, cut their limps if they fall sleep or the gangs and cops steal their money or their souls to convert them in animals.
For me was easier I thought to my self. I just have to reach the border and the coyote was going to help me to cross the dessert in this container. I was going to be transported as a human’s “sardina”. Inside of a double tank container, ten people were there. We paid until 5,000 dollars to be pack as sardinas and hopefully if we survive the extreme heat of the trip another person will pick up us in the middle of nowhere and from there walk until we reach the city. From there it will be to live under the shadows of the asphalt and trying to connect jobs. The easiest way was to reach the town where people from my town lives. So at least I will recognize faces.
The heat inside of this container started to make me to hallucinate. I was hungry but it will pass that sensation soon. I started to see the life that I was going to have, the different jobs, the money that I was going to make to send to my family. People were talking about tabaco piscas in North Carolina. They always are looking for good workers. I was a good gardener. My father tough me a lot of skills. He used to say, you are not going to suffer hungry. I have a lot of skills with my hands and tools. I know about carpentry, how to work the land, cooking, teaching, also working the metal. I will be ok I said to my self. I have a lot of confidence that I was going to make it big. And if everything goes well. I will bring all my family to America. We are going to start a new life, my sons will be educated. I have so much hope.