With both my parents being from Central America, I couldn’t ever imagine how diverse my taste for different cuisines would become.
Don’t get me wrong… my love of stew beans, coconut rice with stewed chicken, or better yet, rice and beans (some may say peas) with oxtails, are what make me long for being at home with my family and preparing these staple Belizean dishes.
In my youth, culturally it was understood that the woman of the household would often take the lead in cooking family meals. I remember standing by the kitchen doorway to watch my mom or Granny kneading dough to make bread or ‘bun’, or skillfully dicing up potatoes and eggs that had been boiled for a potato salad, by hand. However, being the only male with 3 sisters seemed to mean that I was not allowed in the kitchen because it was “the woman’s space”.
Surprisingly, my father was the one that added confusion to the perception of my place in the kitchen. It started with holidays, or really special occasions where he would get up real early, perhaps beginning with him looking through the refrigerator or cabinets to see what he needed for whatever feast he was about to prepare. By this time he would have found me dressed, teeth brushed, and me standing by the kitchen door. He’d give me some crazy look, but he knew he couldn’t sway my curiosity of what he was going to make. So it was off to the grocery store.
I knew not to ask questions when Daddy was in the kitchen. But I had so many swirling around in my head! I wondered how he was able to chop vegetables so quickly, without cutting his fingers. I wanted to ask why he never cried when he diced onions. My young mind longed for answers about the dishes that he created that seemed to bring family members that we hadn’t seen for years out the woodwork, just to taste his food. Each time I felt like I was being introduced to a new cooking style, or dish from him.
But that was just the beginning of my inquisitive journey with food. Within a couple of decades, I delved into experiencing cuisines that were not even mentioned when I was growing up. Japanese, Thai, Indian, Middle Eastern just to name a few.
This brings us to why I’ve written this article. I LOVE FOOD. All types of cuisines. The cuisine in the Twin Cities is a food lover’s paradise. East St Paul alone is rich with different ethnic cuisines, each dazzling us with their own flair. So if you’re longing to learn about new foods, cuisines, recipes, and more in our community, here’s your invitation to share in this journey.
Because really … it IS all about the food!