Review: Organic Sofrito or Other Recipes for Disaster

Review: <em>Organic Sofrito or Other Recipes for Disaster</em>

Organic Sofrito or Other Recipes for Disaster

Written & performed by Venessa M. Diaz

Directed by Melissa Crespo

United Solo Theatre Festival @ Theatre Row

Review By Sonia Alejandra Rodriguez, PhD

Santita Soto has a successful web cooking show where she teaches her viewers to make holistic, natural, and healthier versions of traditional Latin dishes. While guiding her viewers through recipes of holiday dishes, Santita also reveals family memories associated with the dishes, the ingredients, or the smells of the food. Audience members experiencing this one woman show will be transported back in time as they witness Venessa Diaz transform herself into other characters including Santita’s grandmother, mother, and aunt. Organic Sofrito is a beautiful and powerful show about the intersection of food, trauma, and healing. Continue Reading…

     

The Beauty of a Mixed Family and Mixed Food

The Beauty of a Mixed Family and Mixed Food

One of the best aspects of Hispanic culture is the mixing.

At a time when activist-types are complaining about cultural appropriation, it’s nice to take a step back and appreciate the fact that Latino culture is one big mix of appropriation and that’s what makes it so beautiful.

As the holidays approach, readers have asked me to write more about the Hispanic culture in my family, and the first thing I can think of is how holidays with my Hispanic family members are a blend of really nice cultural traditions. Continue Reading…

     

Silence Between Sisters

Silence Between Sisters

A trip to visit my nephew during Family Weekend in Rhode Island kept us crammed in my sister’s car for hours. After a long workweek, Joann and I loaded up the car with duffel bags and our children. Meant to be a short road trip, to support AJ’s dream to play college basketball, another journey unfolded. With every mile gained, and moment elapsed, I collected pieces of my sister and I along the way.

Forced by DNA to walk the same terrain, siblings bare witness to your childhood, and though the markers might be different, the road indeed is the same. Continue Reading…

     

When City Mice Visit

When City Mice Visit

Mama used to read Country Mouse, City Mouse to me and my brother when we were kids. That’s the fable about the country mouse who visits the city mouse and becomes so scared by the threats in the city that the country mouse returns home, never to explore anything outside of its house again.

While I didn’t (and don’t) fear city situations, as a child I easily identified as the country mouse. Unabashedly prideful, I claimed my frog-in-the-pocket, earthworm-digging-up country mouse position. In contrast, when Uncle, Aunt, and Cousin visited from their far-away, cosmopolitan life, they represented my city mice family. Their rare visits promised all things new and exciting. Continue Reading…

     

Get Out

Get Out

He came unexpectedly, unannounced, and late in the day. My tio Pablo, one of the prodigal sons, welcomed home always with fanfare and celebration, his years living out of state rendering him special and exotic compared to the likes of Tia Margarita who we visited every week.

We were living with Grandpa then, me and my two little brothers and mom, after the divorce. Us three kids shared a room, beds shoved up against one another, a stew of blankets and stuffed animals on the floor, clothes and toys and school projects in every crevice. Continue Reading…

     

John Glen and the China Cabinet

John Glen and the China Cabinet

The following was the norm upon entering my grandmother Andrea’s house during the holidays: run through the flower shop, push the door in a flash, bounce off her pleather couch, fiddle with the giant village display, and head over to the china cabinet to check out her John Glen postcard. Growing up, other than Christmas Eve dinner, we didn’t have many traditions in my house. I know now that traditions are special memories that forever connect us to our family and friends. I distinctively remember coming home from school every day to the aroma of sofrito coming from my mother’s kitchen. It didn’t matter where she had been or how late she was; we could count on a hot plate for lunch after school daily. Continue Reading…

     

Christmas Dinner (2007)

Christmas Dinner (2007)

“Sonia, ven!” my mother yells from the kitchen. It’s Noche Buena and I’m in the living room reading while my younger siblings watch the Disney channel. I go to the kitchen and she asks me to blend the mole for the chicken. I do as she says. I empty the Doña Maria mole into our blender and start it. Within seconds, smoke starts rising from the base of the blender. I immediately turn if off afraid that the whole thing will explode in my face. She looks at me.

“You told me to put the mole in the blender. That’s what I did!” Continue Reading…

     

Language Barrier

Language Barrier

Some parents spell out questionable words when in the presence of children. Others, including mine, just switch languages. As soon as my parents would speak Spanish, we knew it was a subject not meant for children’s sensitive ears. Language was the barrier between ours and the adults’ world. It was a firm exclusion, shielding us from “adult talk.”

For me, hearing Spanish turned into a symbol of alienation:  it barred me from going out-of-bounds, into forbidden territory, where they were allowed. I wondered why I was excluded from this aspect of interaction with my own family. Continue Reading…

     

La Odisea de Mamy

La Odisea de Mamy

I thought about Mamy those cold rainy nights in the rice paddies of Vietnam, those nights when the rain would beat on my helmet and the cold invaded my bones. As a trained Marine, that was a mild test of my physical ability to withstand the elements. Mentally, I wasn’t prepared.

Maria Erlinda or Mamy like we called her was my maternal grandmother, a humble woman who never learned how to read and write. Even after she married my grandfather, Jack Roth, the gringo who swept her off her feet at her mother Lupe’s diner, giving her a life of comfort, exposing her to a culture she could never quite assimilate, she was happy remaining close to her indigenous roots. She never ate in the dining room with the rest of the family. Continue Reading…