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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.

I’ve alluded in past articles to my household being Italian culture-dominant, but the Puerto Rican food that was dominant was arroz con gandules. I wonder if behind closed doors my parents had a secret arrangement, a treaty signed in blood, a Quinto Real that stipulated that at least one fifth of the month gandules would be served, but they were there, constantly. Delicious. Working my nostalgia like few other Hispanic foods can.

Being mixed, now and then I get asked cute kitschy questions about being Italian-American and Puerto Rican, “So you have pernil with your spaghetti?” The real answer is: No, but on Thanksgiving we constantly had gandules, baked ziti, meatballs and sausages, alongside our big fat American turkey.

Marrying into a Colombian family, the holidays roll around and I get to celebrate the holidays with my in-laws, and often present is a big fat lechon. For most of you, that’s probably no big deal, but never having had the pleasure of tucking into one until I get married, it’s like Christmas to me. Well it is usually served on Christmas, but you get the idea.


Weren’t pigs brought by the Spanish to the Caribbean? Weren’t they also cooked according to Taino barbecuing techniques, which were then adopted by European pirates?

Who cares? This isn’t meant to be an academic piece.

But alongside that fat lechon at my in-laws’ house, guess what my mother-in-law is always nice enough to prepare.

A big bowl of spaghetti.


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