A Sweet Game

BY TRACY LÓPEZ
(This was originally published on the now defunct CafeMagazine.com on June 14, 2010. Since this piece is no longer available online, I thought it would be fun to reprint it and take a look back at our familia during the 2010 World Cup.)

On Friday, my kids and I gathered around the television to watch the opening game of World Cup 2010, Mexico vs. South Africa.

I was rooting for Mexico, so naturally the kids were, too, (much to the annoyance of my Salvadoran mother-in-law who awakened to the entire household vested in green).

The kids really like fútbol but they have short attention spans, so to make it more exciting for them I promised candy at half-time – but this was not any ordinary candy. This was a mixed bag of “Dulces Mexicanos” from our local Latino market. Luckily my boys are pretty adventurous and were willing to give everything a try. Here is how they rated the Mexican candies, keeping in mind they’ve been raised on chocolate, butterscotch, jelly beans and other traditional U.S. candies. The candies are rated from one star (yucky-face inducing) to five stars (they’d eat the whole bag if I let them):

boycandy

Coconut “banderitas”: The tri-colored green, white and red Mexican flags were pretty to look at and tasted almost as good. Rating: ***

De La Rosa Dulce de Cacahuate: To be fair, I buy these all the time and am slightly addicted, so this candy is very familiar to the boys. They rated it highly and licked the crumbs from the wrapper. Rating: *****

Pica Pepino Relleno con Chile (lollipop): My younger son took one lick and rejected it. The older one took a few licks and ultimately agreed. I thought it was kind of interesting though. Rating: **

Duvalín Dulce Cremoso Sabor Avellana y Vainilla:
My husband really likes these, but the kids weren’t that impressed. Rating: **

Go Mango Enchilado: I think the boys were more put off by the way this one looked than the way it tasted. They barely gave it a nibble. To me it tasted like a slightly spicy fruit snack. Rating: *

Obleas con Cajeta: How can cajeta possibly not taste good? Yet, they didn’t like this one. Rating: *

Eskandalosos Paleta de Caramelo con Chile: I thought they would reject this one immediately but they loved it. They were fruity flavored with just enough spice to make them interesting. Rating: *****

Benyrindo: Deceptively shaped like a Coca-Cola bottle, everyone was fine with this candy until biting into it and releasing the tamarindo flavored juices. Maybe you have to be raised eating tamarind to appreciate these sorts of things? Rating: *

Pica Limón: One child rated this highly and the other rated it low, yet they both kept trying it and laughing. I think the fun of this one is watching people’s reactions after eating it. Rating: ***

In the end, Mexico and South Africa tied 1-1, bitter disappointment for fans on both sides who wanted to see their team win, but my boys’ memories of the game are not bitter; they are sweet like cacahuate, sour like limón and spicy like chile.

¡Vamos USA!

USA-familia-2

Disclosure: This is a compensated campaign in collaboration with Crest® and Latina Bloggers Connect. All opinions are my own.

The tagline of Crest®’s current campaign is “Más lejos llega tu equipo, más cerca estás” and it’s totally true; with each game, our familia gets closer – not just physically during goal celebrations which turn into hugging-jumping-up-and-down-mini-fiestas, but we’ve had a great time bonding and creating traditions.

I always say I’m not superstitious, and I often tease Carlos because he’s very superstitious, but I have a few “traditions” which make me feel more confident about my team winning a game.

When Mexico was still in, my tradition was to put a can of sweet peas next to the television. My kids were confused the first time until I explained that in Spanish, sweet peas are called “chícharos” – and Chicharito’s nickname is “little pea.” Now it all made sense! (Well, sort of. It still might be a little weird.)

peas

When the US team plays, first of all, everyone in the family is required to wear their American flag T-shirt, (we still need to invest in the official jersey now that, thankfully, the team no longer looks like Where’s Waldo.)

Second, we eat hot dogs during every game the United States plays. I like to make my hot dogs sort of “Sonoran style” with a slice of bacon, mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard, chopped tomato, onion and jalapeño on a bun which I toast for a few seconds on the comal. They’re delicious, but after eating them, your breath will be kicking.

After I finish my hot dogs I usually run off for a minute to brush my teeth, (and hope I don’t miss any of the action!) Since I signed up for this campaign, I bought Crest® Complete + Scope because I wanted to make sure it’s a good product, and that’s the toothpaste I’ve been using. It’s kind of awesome that it’s an “all in one” toothpaste. Not only does it whiten teeth, fight cavities, and prevent tartar, but it has mouthwash built right into it so you don’t knock out any of your family members yelling “¡GOOOOOOOOOOL!”

If you want to #CelebrateCloser and give Crest® Complete + Scope a try, here’s some coupons! (Click here!)

What are your family soccer traditions? How do you celebrate during fútbol games, and which teams are you cheering on? … We can’t wait for today’s game at our house. ¡Vamos USA!

20 Salvadoran Slang Phrases (in GIFs)

This Spanish Friday I’m going to do things a little differently than usual. Instead of a post in Spanish followed by the English translation, I decided we’d have a little fun and I could do a Salvadoran version of this Mexican slang post on Buzzfeed, complete with animated gifs. Note: Guatemalans and Hondurans may also use some of these words/phrases – and some are probably not appropriate to use around your abuela. ¿Listos? Here we go!

hola-beauty-queen

1. ¿Qué onda, bichos?
Rough English translation: What’s up, guys?

puchica2

2. ¡Púchica!
Rough English translation: Shoot! [Can also be used as a positive exclamation when impressed.]

hiju

3. ¡Hijueputa!
Rough English translation: Son of a bitch!

magico

4. Ta’ chivo, ¿vá?
Rough English translation: It’s cool, isn’t it?

cabal

5. Cabal.
Rough English translation: Exactly.

chucho2

6. El cipote está afuera juegando con en chucho.
Rough English translation: The kid is outside playing with the dog.

patas2

7. Tus patas están bien chucas porque no usaste chanclas.
Rough English translation: Your feet are really dirty because you didn’t use sandals.

ride

8. ¡Ey, chero! Dame un rai!
Rough English translation: Hey friend! Give me a ride!

nervioso

9. Me da nervios.
Rough English translation: It makes me nervous.

paja3

10. Pura paja habla esta maje.
Rough English translation: This idiot tells nothing but lies.

cipitio

11. ¡No seas bayunco!
Rough English translation: Don’t be goofy/stupid!

chindondo2

12. ¡Ay! Golpeaste. Por cierto vas a tener un chindondo.
Rough English translation: Ouch! You hit yourself. You’re going to have a bump for sure.

pisto

13. ¿Tienes el pisto de la cabuda?
Rough English translation: Do you have the cash from the lending circle?

paco-flores

14. ¿Dónde está el bolado?
Rough English translation: Where is the thing?

bolo

15. ¡Qué bien baila el bolo!
Rough English translation: How well that drunk dances!

pupusa-bailando

16. La fiesta estaba bien vergóna. Estaba toda la mara allí.
Rough English translation: The party was really awesome. The whole gang was there. [And by "gang", I mean group of friends, although "mara" can also refer to criminal gangs as well.]

caida

17. Jajaja, ¡te pelaste!
Rough English translation: Hahaha, you screwed up!

vaya-pues

18. Vaya pues.
Rough English translation: Okay then.

yuca

19. Está yuca.
Rough English translation: It’s difficult.

vos

20. Vos.
Rough English translation: You

La Cerca (The Fence)

Image source: Orange Grove Media

Image source: Orange Grove Media

Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, leave your link in comments. Scroll down for English translation!

Uno no siempre puede saber todo sólo mediante observar. Ser observador es importante, pero sólo si uno recuerda que como ser humanos, nuestra abilidad de ver algo con los ojos y destilar la verdad, es imperfecto, limitado e influenciado por nuestras propias emociones, experiencias, y creencias.

Tomemos por ejemplo esta sencilla cerca. ¿Por qué estaba construida? ¿Los dueños quieren privacidad? ¿Es por protección o un sentido de seguridad? ¿Quieren previnir que salga su mascota o sus niños? ¿O que no entran extraños y animales desconocidos? ¿Tal vez van a construir una piscina o tienen un perro que muerde, y no quieren poner sus vecinos en peligro? ¿Es por razones estéticas, que se ve bonita la propiedad? ¿Quizás quieren vender la casa y están agregando valor a la propiedad? o es que ¿No quieren que su vecino les moleste?

Lo único que sabemos es que hay una cerca, pero no podemos saber por cierto por qué hay una cerca sin preguntar a los dueños. Pero ¿por qué estoy hablando de las cercas y los supuestos? Estos pensamientos se inspiraron en una hermosa serie que he estado leyendo en The New York Times. La serie se llama “The Way North“, y se trata de la inmigración.

The Way North: Day 25” es una entrevista con una mujer que se llama Francene en Wichita, Kansas. Francene ha vivido toda su vida en Wichita en la misma propiedad. Ella cuenta tanto las experiencias positivas y negativas que ha tenido con los inmigrantes mexicanos en la communidad que han estado moviendo a las casas en su vecindad. Ella contó sobre jovenes mexicanos que quebrarón una ventana, y entraron en un edificio de su propiedad, dañaron y robaron cosas. Contó también del hombre mexicano y su hijo que hicieron las reparaciones a la ventana y trataron de cobrar menos por la reparación porque se sentían mal por lo que le pasó. Una parte de la historia menciona a la familia mexicana que vive detrás de la casa de Francene. Anteriormente Francene les llevaba sandías cada domingo durante sus barbacoas familiares … hasta que se construyó una cerca.

Al final del artículo, nos encontramos con Leonel, el vecino mexicano que vive detrás Francene – El mismo vecino que construyó la cerca. Cuando el escritor del artículo hablo con Leonel y le dijo cómo se sentía Francene, Leonel expresó sorpresa. “¿En serio?” dijo Leonel. “Ella es una buena persona. Yo no sabía que iba a molestarse. Simplemente lo hicimos para hacer la casa más bonita.”

Esta historia me puso muy triste, porque estos tipos de malentendidos y suposiciones dividen a la gente más que la cerca física. Es una lección de no saltar a conclusiones.

¿Qué “cerca” estás malinterpretando en tu vida?

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

One can not always know everything simply by observing. Being observant is important, but only if one remembers that as human beings, our ability to see something with our eyes and distill the truth is imperfect, limited, and influenced by our own emotions, experiences, and beliefs.

Let’s take for example this simple fence. Why was in built? Did the owners want privacy? Is it for protection or a sense of security? Do they want to prevent their pet or children from going out? Or prevent strangers and unknown animals from coming in? Maybe they’re going to build a pool or they own a dog that bites, and they don’t want to put their neighbors in danger? Is it for aesthetic reasons, to make the property look nice? Perhaps they want to sell the house and they added the fence to increase the property value? Do they not like their neighbor and want to make it more difficult for that neighbor to bother them?

The only thing we know is that there is a fence, but we can’t know for sure why there is a fence without asking the owners. But why am I even talking about fences and assumptions? These thoughts were inspired by a beautiful series I’ve been reading in The New York Times. The series is called “The Way North“, and it’s about immigration.

The Way North: Day 25” is an interview with a woman named Francene in Wichita, Kansas. Francene has lived all her life in Wichita on the same property. She recounts experiences both positive and negative that she’s had with the Mexican immigrants in the community who have been moving into her neighborhood. There are the Mexican teenagers who broke a window, entered a building on her property, damaged and stole things. There is the Mexican man and his child who made the repairs to her window and tried to undercharge her for the repair because they felt badly about what had happened to her. One part of the article mentions the Mexican family that lives behind Francene’s house. Francene used to bring them watermelons each Sunday during their family barbeques… until they built a fence.

At the end of the article, we meet Leonel, the Mexican neighbor who lives behind Francene’s house – the neighbor that built the fence. When Leonel was told how Francene felt, he expressed surprise. “For real?” Leonel said, “She’s a nice person. I didn’t know it was going to bother her. We just did it to make the house look nice.”

This story made me really sad, because these types of misunderstandings and assumptions divide people even more than the actual physical fence. It’s a lesson in not jumping to conclusions.

What “fence” might you be misinterpreting in your life?

When Your Hijo is American…

allstate-commercial

While watching a game today, I discovered another company who made a great commercial worth sharing. It’s one of the “mala suerte” Allstate commercials, and in it, a Mexican father and his Mexican-American son are driving to the soccer stadium to go see a game… I don’t want to spoil it by giving too much away, so just check it out! Well done, Allstate!

(I actually wrote about this exact topic during the last World Cup. See the post HERE.)

An Open Letter to Mr. Clegg, Who Hates American Soccer Fans

Dear Mr. Jonathan Clegg,

There are posers, wannabes and fakes in every group of fans, regardless of the sport – but in your Wall Street Journal article “Why I Hate American Soccer Fans”, you made some pretty harsh judgements. I tried to move on with my day after reading it, but I’ll admit, you got me a bit riled. (So congratulations to you if you’re trolling. Well done, sir.) However, on the off chance that you were sincere in your ridiculous remarks and petty complaints, I would like to set the record straight on a few things.

You want to know why some Americans refer to the sport as “fútbol” instead of “soccer” – I shall explain. The United States is a very multicultural country, and many of us watch our “fútbol” on Spanish-language channels; some even prefer the lively commentary in Spanish, have grown accustomed to it – it’s part of the sport for those who haven’t known it any other way. Some of us even come from Spanish-speaking households, or perhaps watch the game with Spanish-speaking friends. You know, it’s funny, a Brit complaining about Americans calling it “fútbol”, when the more common complaint from our friends across the pond is, “Why do you call it soccer? It’s football!” … Well, you got your wish, it’s just that we decided to say it in Spanish. What seems to be the problema?

Then you complain that some of us call the field a ‘pitch’, the game a ‘match’, and the jersey a ‘kit.’ Although you have assumed otherwise, most people I know don’t do this to be pretentious, but because if we want to watch a game in English, it’s often a British commentator using those British terms. Is it that difficult to understand that when one is a soccer fan in the United States, they inevitably find themselves rubbing elbows literally and linguistically with people who aren’t Americans and thus pick these things up? … But you know what? It’s fine. You can have your pitches, matches and kits back, just kindly return all the Americanisms that have somehow made their way overseas. Oh! And please refrain from watching our Hollywood movies, those are ours. No one else can watch them.

On a related note, you complained about our obsession with ‘tifo’ – Yet, if I’m not mistaken, ‘tifo’ are of Italian origin, so would you kindly tell England and all the other countries displaying them at games to knock it off? Why can’t they come up with their own traditions? While we’re at it, everyone in the world except China must stop setting off fireworks, (with it being a Chinese invention and all.) I’m sure we can come up with some other cool way to celebrate things.

On the topic of these American fans you so detest wearing soccer scarves on hot days – This is not a phenomenon unique to soccer and it does not automatically guarantee you have spotted a “poser.” Americans do all kinds of crazy weather/fashion related things. Have you not seen girls on college campuses wearing furry UGG boots year round? Have you never witnessed shirtless men with painted chests in bone-chilling cold supporting their American football team at the stadium? I also find this particular complaint kind of hilarious given that England’s national team has been practicing while wearing extra layers, including hats and gloves so they can prepare for Brazil’s heat. Maybe you guys would like to borrow some of our scarves since you don’t want us wearing them anymore?

I think the thing that made me most insane about your diatribe was that after all these complaints about Americans pilfering soccer traditions from other countries and telling us how unimaginative we are – you then dove headfirst into telling us how stupid our own unique soccer traditions seem to you. Which one is it, Mr. Clegg? You can’t have it both ways.

As for Clint Dempsey’s nickname, “Deuce” – That’s his rap name, I’m not even kidding, and fans didn’t give it to him. Look it up. (He’s actually really good. Can Rooney rap? Didn’t think so.)

To close, I would just like to remind you, Mr. Clegg, that this nation is built on a foundation of mixed traditions, languages, and adaptations from all the beautiful cultures that make us who we are – I don’t see why you would expect our growing love of soccer to be any different.

See you at the World Cup, amigo.

Tracy López
American soccer fan, like it or not

No Hay Nada En El Fridge

lafamilia

Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, leave your link in comments. Scroll down for English translation!

Ni sé cómo encontré esta telenovela educativa que se llama “Long Live La Familia”, pero me alegro de haberla encontrado. Es casi 30 minutos de duración y un poco cursi, pero yo miré todo el episodio “No Hay Nada En El Fridge” y hay mucho que me encanta: La mezcla de idiomas, las interacciones entre las diferentes generaciones, los calcetines con chanclas … Mírala y dime lo que te gustó. (Puede saltar a 3:40 en el video, que es cuando comienza la telenovela.)

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

I’m not even sure how I stumbled upon this educational telenovela called “Long Live La Familia”, but I’m glad I did. It’s almost 30 minutes long and a little cheesy, but I watched the whole episode of “No Hay Nada En El Fridge” and there’s so much I love about this video: The mix of languages, the interactions between different generations, the socks with chanclas… Watch and tell me what you liked. (You can skip to 3:40 in the video, that’s when the actual telenovela starts.)