September 15 through October 15 marks National Hispanic Heritage Month. Those of you who follow my blog know that my husband is Colombian-American. I have great respect for my in-laws, who came to this country without knowing the language and with nothing. Today, they are both American Citizens, and my father in law has built a small business that creates jobs in our community and has paved the way for his children to attend college and have businesses of their own. They are an inspiration, and I am proud to call them my family.
When I decided I was going to write this post, I thought best to ask my husband, the one with the Hispanic heritage, what was important to him about raising his girls in a two-culture home. He didn't skip a beat. "I don't want them ever to feel different. We are American." I wasn't that surprised, as Jose, an Army Airborne Combat Veteran, is a patriotic American. Although, if I have to be honest I was a little dumbfounded that he didn't chime in with, FOOD - which was totally where I was going with this post.
Scroll any of my social media accounts and you know we are food-ies - in every sense. Trying new foods and restaurants is one of our favorite ways to bond since the beginning of our relationship, and something that we try our darndest to instill in our girls. I don't typically shy away from trying my hand a preparing cuisine from different cultures at home; Mostly because it's easier for us to keep it as healthy as possible. However, traditional Colombian recipes were not something I ever attempted at home in the early years of our marriage. We live a hop and skip away from my in-laws and get the good stuff several times a week. And I was always intimidated that I wouldn't measure up to my mother in law (which of course I don't).
The truth is, though, my mother in law won't be around forever. And food is important. My girls do have a Hispanic heritage following through their veins and food is at the heart of culture. So. it began. First, the beans, because let's be real, they are the pillar of many Hispanic diets. Oh, the beans. Sigh. Three years, guys. Stovetop. Crockpot. Soaked. Unsoaked. Salted. Not Salted. You name it; I tried it. Alas, after acquiring a fancy pressure cooker (and three years of trial and error) I can make a mean pot of beans.
Really. Everything after the beans is icing on the cake for Jose. Although, I do enjoy perfecting (or attempting to!) new Colombian meals. I still look over my mother in law's shoulder while I keep her company in the kitchen. And there are some things I leave completely up to her. Ahem, bunuelos, and la Lengua, because she does the best. However, I know I am doing my part to ensure that my kids know every thread woven into of their fabric of self. Then, of course, there is also the look on Jose's face when the smell of a childhood meal welcomes him. It's then that our house becomes his home.
I implore you to embrace the heritage of those you love and understand the difference between nationality and ethnicity and culture. We are all Americans living side by side, made up of the differing fibers that create the cloth from which we are cut. And this month we pay tribute to our fellow Americans of Hispanic origin.
Not sure how to observe Hispanic Culture this month? I vote there is no better way to celebrate than to share a meal. Below are just a handful of the excellent Hispanic Restaurants here in Orlando. Buen Provecho ( Bon Appetite)!
Oh Que Bueno - Colombian
Pio Pio - Colombian/Peruvian
Black Bean Deli - Cuban
El Ranchito - Mexican