Recently in my small NYC apartment, I’ve started feeling very nostalgic for the sun-filled, lively Miami days I had growing up. My family is crazy, hilarious, functional in the most dysfunctional of ways, and, most of all, loving – which is all to say, we are Cuban-American. Led by grandparents who fled Cuba in the early ’60s, I grew up surrounded by the music of Celia Cruz, the flavor of Sazon Goya Con Azafran, and the scent of Vivaporu (Vick’s Vapor Rub). The sense memories of my childhood are seldom to be found in the city I call home now, but I know when I go home for the holidays, I’ll be welcomed with homemade croquetas and the richest hot chocolate known to man.
When I called both of my abuelas in South Florida and asked for their recipes, I was twice met with small chuckles. I realized they didn’t have what I was asking for — recipes with measurements and cooking times — but stories passed down to them from generations that came before. This food represents my family’s ancestry, love, and legacy. Nevertheless, I needed the numbers. So, I observed (shout out to FaceTime and the most average camerawoman of all time, my mother); I watched them make these my entire life, but for the first time, I paid attention. After painstakingly counting every grain of rice thoughtlessly poured into the palm of their hands like a measuring cup, I offer you a small glimpse of my culture and my family through the best medium of all: food.