Food gathers my family together; it gathers everyone at the dining table after everyone’s long day and satisfies our tummies. Eating food; as much as it unifies my friends and family, can also be a time for self-contemplation when alone. Food in many ways is a reflection of my culture and myself, from how it is eaten, what I eat, and at times how it is prepared. Raised by Mexican culture, my mother taught me all about her ways in the kitchen and the meals she cooked, and I eventually learned to appreciate the cultural identity food gave me.
One of Mexico’s traditional dishes, and one of my favorites is the tamale. In the region where my mom grew up the food is steamed on a corn husk. The way the tamale is prepared depends mostly from what region the cook is from; therefore, there are many variations of the tamale. In my family this dish is only prepared on special occasions such as the holidays because the process is painstaking and quite long. I remember visiting my family down in Mexico on Christmas as a very young boy, and one of the dishes the adults prepared was the tamale. The kitchen was off limits for the kids, and this only sparked my curiosity. Being prohibited from the kitchen and seeing my parents, aunts and uncles, and grandparents having fun preparing this meal only made me want to be a part of that. As I grew older, I was allowed in the kitchen and could start helping them cook the Christmas meal. I didn’t necessarily love the preparation, but I loved that it brought me closer to my roots and family.