Is that time of the week again: time to see what this Boricua will tells us about the best culture in the world (Boricua, of course). At the end of last week, usually the time when my brainstorming begins, I had different topics for today’s discussion. But it was until Monday when I saw a picture posted by a friend of mine in Facebook that gave me the food to feed your minds (Ohhh, I’m a poet now).
As any culture out there, when Boricuas leave the Island looking for a better future (or running from an ugly present) we miss our family, friends and, today’s topic, our food. Here’s a story for you. I was an intern in Washington, DC back in 2000 (a week or so ago). As a regular Boricua, living and sharing every day with other Boricuas, we tried the best we could to find food in the supermarket that we used back in Puerto Rico. Adobo, for example, is seasoning for meat. We found it hard to believe there was no Adobo in the market in our building complex. How in God’s green earth you season the meat if you have no Adobo? You can use salt, pepper, spices and stuff, but still is no Adobo, c’mon! One day, one of the girls called us from her apartment and gave us the wonderful news that she was able to find Adobo, the real Adobo; the one God intended humans to have. We were happier than a five year old in Christmas. We went to her apartment and we finally had some real seasoned meat.
To continue the story, one day my mother sent me a package with home-cooked food, her food. Needless to say, it was a lot of food and I shared only some with my roommates. But in that same package there was SOFRITO (all in caps because is THAT important to us). It was like a better present in your neighbor’s house in Christmas; one of my roommates almost cried and we were dancing of joy all around the apartment. Ok, maybe I am exaggerating a bit, but we were happy. What is Sofrito? It is a mix of certain vegetables and stuff that we use mostly to make stews. What is a sancocho without sofrito? It is like El Gran Combo without Salsa, like Little Richard without the “Little”; just boring and tasteless food. Enough comparisons!
Now that we had sofrito, we could make lots of stuff, like rice and salchicha, or vienna sausage. But we had a problem: there were no salchichas Carmela around (that is a brand we have in Puerto Rico). Most likely it would taste the same, but we cannot tell our new non-Boricua friends to have Arroz con Salchichas and use any salchicha, you see. We tried the same place were the Adobo was bought, and we found it. We had a wonderful dinner that day, and even our new friends understood why we were so happy. We made some Mofongo and also had some seasoned meat. And on Thanksgiving, a group of around 18 Boricuas and 10-15 non Boricuas, we had Arroz con Gandules, Turkey, Mofongo, Pasteles and we had an awesome time.
I know that for every culture is basically the same: some make Mole, Salvadoreños eat Pupusas, and Venezolanos have Paloapique, and so on. And when you find yourself out of the country you were born and in which you had many experiences, you want to travel back even if it is with food. The smell of cooked food that it goes all through the house is amazing. And as Boricuas, when a bunch of us sit to eat, we own the place; we reminisce on the times we spent doing anything, about our neighborhood and when we were children. At that time, we travel back home and it does not hurt as bad to be somewhere else. And we try to do it again as much as we can.
Remember to share this post with your friends and family. You can comment in this post or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Until next time, cómanlo suave (since we’re talking about food, you know!).