FOOD! That first tortilla that comes off the comal, steamy and pliant with the aromatic smell of corn bursting in the air as a piece is torn away in order to scope up the contents on the plate. In the Latino literature that has been read in class we discover that there emotional and physical ties to the food that has nurtured our bodies from infancy. When boarding a plane to go home, I am usually excited to see my family but the second thing that I am most excited for is my mother’s cooking; beef tongue tacos, mole, posole, and the menudo that revives anyone from a night of heavy drinking. Food is as memory invoking as a photograph when it comes to family and home. Santiago, in Latin Moon over Manhattan, had a similar feeling of coming home when he gazes upon the feast his mother has prepared for him. It is symbolic that his friend dies after eating a Colombian dish and feels a sense of completion when he does. Anzaldua writes poetry about the symbolic food staple that is the cactus and it’s nature in forming her identity.
Latino food is delicious and diverse in it’s offering, it is also gaining popularity in the US. In a recent Gourmet Magazine, an entire issue was dedicated to Latino Food yet the editor in chief,Ruth Reichl, received some love but also some hate on dedicating a whole issue to Latino cuisine. The Reuters article read “Americans may be split over what to do about immigration but when it comes to food they are curious and more willing to experiment, specially with Latin American cuisine, according to a food expert.” ( I also love that they brushed aside the pesky immigration thing…not)
Yes, America is enamored with Latino food yet roughly have of it’s population is against immigration reform with little tolerance to the people that harvest the food that they are consuming.That’s why it irks me when people say “OMG, I love LOVE Mexican food” yes thanks for loving the food but not the people making the food.
Reichl said that people had a negative reaction to the article, often saying why there was a need to dedicate a whole issue to Latino food when the title of the magazine was French, and the editor in chief said that was straight up racism that drove most of the comments. WHY?! It’s about delicious food! Who got offended enough to write a letter about a cuisine that is as integral in the American palate as hamburgers.
I won’t get into the typical American procedure of taking something as pure as a taco, then Frankenstein into this Taco Bell chain, Baja Fresh of the numerous Chipotle we see scattered along the road. Taking something so rich in emotional connection and repackakaging into a weaker and more appealing to the American palate is something that happens to all the cultures that get integrated into the Amrican life.
Food is home, my siblings, the way that I reconnect to an absent family in Oregon and the way that I bond with my roommates it makes me laugh that people raise fuss about it but also calls to attention how important food is when it comes to creating my Latinidad, why it’s a strong focus in Latin@s culture and why even after all this time, the smell of that tortilla is what brings you home.