Food & Family

Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.

“Food is the way to a man's heart.” This surprisingly sexist saying has always been a coveted motto among the women in my large Latino family. The number of times my abuela disclosed what she believed to be the secret to love to me is incalculable. My first memory of these words was at the much too young age of 10, when my grandmother was babysitting me. Usually, when we were over at Abuela’s (Spanish for "grandmother") fun things like coloring and playing dress-up were on the agenda, but today was different. My Abuela believed it was her duty to teach me a crucial life skill, the art of making a tortilla. This thin flatbread made from flour was and is an essential part of life in my household. It is served with almost every meal, and all great women in my family have perfected this culinary talent until it's basically second nature.

The lesson was a bit stressful and was definitely not as fun as playing tag with the neighbors outside. I learned how much work my mom put into making tortillas every night, and I finally got an explanation of her unnatural strength: kneading that dough was no joke. For the next week, I told everyone I saw about my accomplishment; they gave their apathetic and courteous “congratulations,” and now I...

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