Arroz con Leche

arroz con leche - latinaish.com

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!

A pesar de nuestras diferentes crianzas, Carlos y yo tenemos algunas cosas sorprendentes en común – arroz con leche (o “rice pudding” en inglés) es uno de ellos. Al crecer casi nunca comimos arroz en mi casa para cenar, pero de vez en cuando mi madre calentaba arroz blanco en un recipiente con leche, luego añadió la canela y el azúcar para un deleite especial. Esta es una receta antigua de mi familia, pero es algo que Carlos comió en su casa en El Salvador, también.

Arroz con Leche

1 taza de arroz cocido
3/4 taza de leche (1%)
2 1/2 cucharaditas de azúcar
canela molida
una pizca de sal

En una olla mediana, combine el arroz y la leche. Revuelva hasta que esté caliente. Agregue la sal y el azúcar. Retire del fuego. Sazone con canela al gusto y servir. Rinde 2 porciones.

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

Despite our different upbringings, Carlos and I have some surprising things in common – rice pudding (arroz con leche) is one of them. Growing up we almost never ate rice at my house for dinner, but occasionally my mother warmed white rice in a bowl with milk, then added cinnamon and sugar for a special treat. This is an old recipe from my family, but it’s something that Carlos ate at his home in El Salvador, too.

Arroz con Leche

(Rice Pudding)

1 cup cooked rice
3/4 cup milk (1%)
2 1/2 teaspoons sugar
ground cinnamon
a pinch of salt

In a medium pot, combine rice and milk. Stir until warm. Add salt and sugar. Remove from heat. Season with a sprinkling of cinnamon and serve. Makes 2 servings.

arroz con leche - latinaish.com

Ofrendas and Changing Beliefs

ofrenda2013

Today has been a busy day since Día de los Muertos is also my youngest son’s birthday. We’ve been celebrating with him and preparing to celebrate again with family tomorrow, but I also took time to set up our ofrenda over the past couple days.

This year marks a turning point for me culturally because I included many of my own loved ones on our ofrenda. Last year I actually added my paternal grandfather, but I did so hesitantly.

I say “hesitantly” because as much as I admire the holiday and feel it’s a good way to remember Carlos’s loved ones, I hadn’t felt comfortable remembering my own loved ones. Originally I thought, well, this is a Catholic holiday and being that my father’s side of the family is Jewish and my mother’s side of the family is Protestant, it just doesn’t make sense to include my family. However, with each passing year I realized that my hesitance was not truly about the mixing of religions – my hesitance was actually an Anglo-American belief so deeply ingrained that it was difficult for me to recognize – and that belief is that remembering loved ones is something painful, sad, fearful and unpleasant.

When I added my paternal grandfather to the ofrenda last year, it wasn’t an easy thing. I chose my favorite photo of him, one I took myself when I was probably no older than eight. I still remember the moment I took it. He gave me the camera, a Kodak Instamatic, I think it was. He showed me how to load the film, snap a photo, and he set me free. I ran around my grandparents’ house in New York photographing everything. At one point I followed my grandpa out to the driveway. He was wearing one of his signature newsboy caps. “Hey Grandpa,” I said, “Let me take your picture.” He smiled down at me – that is the photo I put on the altar. I added Corn Flakes, the cereal he used to eat every morning, a little trumpet to represent his love of big band music, and a dreidel because he was Jewish.

While I experienced sadness at first, that sadness lifted and I began to experience the holiday as it’s meant to be celebrated. My boys asked me questions about the altar, and I had the opportunity to share stories with them about my grandfather which felt really good.

This year as I set up the altar, I realized that my attitude toward remembering loved ones had changed and I now felt comfortable including my great-grandmothers. As they did last year, the boys asked questions about photos and items on the altar. I was more than happy to tell them stories, the good memories of so many people I was blessed to have known.

ofrenda2013b

Related Links:

Altar 2010
Altar 2011
Altar 2012

I invited Bob

I’m on the sofa watching TV with the family; Carlos has been changing the channels between a Manchester United game, bullfighting and a Jackie Chan movie translated to Spanish, (La Leyenda del Maestro Borrachón.) Somewhere in between all that I caught a Kentucky Fried Chicken commercial en español which was so hilarious that I had to drop in here and share it.

Kudos to the people who came up with this commercial – Me encanta!

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored or paid post and I do not necessarily endorse KFC – I just like this commercial.

Salvadoran-style Birthday Cake

salvadorancake

Being married to Carlos over these past 15 years, one thing I’ve learned is that American birthday cake and Salvadoran birthday cake are very different.

Carlos will eat American birthday cake, but he doesn’t really like it.

Today was Carlos’s birthday and for the past few weeks, all he’s been talking about is Salvadoran birthday cake. I got the hint and asked him plenty of questions about it so I could make him one. Carlos says that growing up in El Salvador he always got a cake from a bakery called Flor de Trigo on his birthday. The cake part was moist but didn’t have a strong flavor, the frosting was only very slightly sweet. The cakes were usually layer cakes with fruit decorating the top.

I did some research, (even found the Flor de Trigo website!) and this is what I came up with.

cakecollage2

The cake is a white cake (from a box mix just to save some time), and the “frosting” is a homemade whipped cream. Sliced almonds decorate the sides, and the fruits I chose were strawberries and apricot. Carlos gave me muchos besos and said it’s just like a Salvadoran birthday cake. Here’s the recipe if you want to give it a try!

Salvadoran-style Birthday Cake

Ingredients:

1 box white cake mix (I used Duncan Hines Classic White)
1 quart heavy whipping cream
1/2 to 3/4 cup white sugar (more if you prefer sweeter)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 to 2 cups sliced almonds
1 pint fresh strawberries, washed and sliced
1 can apricot halves, drained and sliced
1 can (12 oz.) “apricot cake & pastry filling” (I used “Solo” brand)

Directions:

1. Make cake according to package directions. If you have two round pans, use those. If not, you can do what I did – Put it all in a well greased 13 x 9 glass baking dish. Once baked and cooled, carefully turn onto a clean surface and slice in half to create 2 square layers. (Since the edges get browned while baking, slice those off so it’s uniform on all sides.)

2. This is how you make homemade whipped cream. (I recommend making this and assembling the cake the same day you plan to eat it.) First, it’s best if you have a large stainless steel bowl, but a plastic mixing bowl will work. Metal is better because you can get it nice and cold. Cold is your friend when making whipped cream! … Whichever bowl you’re using, stick it in the freezer along with the metal beater(s) from your electric mixer. The heavy whipping cream should be kept in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it. To make the whipped cream – pour the quart of whipping cream into the bowl. Turn your mixer on high and beat until stiff peaks form. Add a 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract and sugar according to your tastes, (1/2 cup to 3/4 cups makes it just barely sweet by American standards.)

3. Put one cake layer on a base – this will be the bottom layer. (Ideally your base would be the bottom of a cake container which you can cover with a dome lid.) Spread the can of “apricot cake & pastry filling” on the top of the bottom cake layer. On top of the “apricot cake & pastry filling”, spread a layer of whipped cream. Top with the top cake layer.

4. Frost the entire outside of the cake with the whipped cream. Carefully toss the sliced almonds onto the sides of the cake.

5. Decorate the top of the cake with the sliced apricots and strawberries. (This recipe will work great if you decide to use different fruits or a different “cake & pastry filling” – so get creative! Other options include fresh or canned pineapple, fresh kiwi, canned fruit cocktail, and other kinds of berries.)

6. Cover cake and refrigerate for a couple hours then serve!

¡Feliz Cumpleaños! (or as I like to say, “Sapo Verde!“)

Un Nacimiento Bilingüe y Bicultural

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!

El miercoles en la página Facebook, durante una conversación sobre nacimientos, una amiga y lectora de Latinaish.com, (“Lady Amalthea”), me mencionó que tenía un nacimiento que quería compartir con todos. Originalmente habíamos planeado compartirlo en la página de Facebook, pero cuando me mandó la foto ví inmediatamente que era muy especial y tenía que ser compartido aquí.

Dale un "click" para ver la foto en grande. Hay muchos detalles! (Click the photo to see it full size. There are a lot of details!)

Dale un “click” para ver la foto en grande. Hay muchos detalles! (Click the photo to see it full size. There are a lot of details!)

En las palabras de “Lady Amalthea”:

[Mi nacimiento es] un pueblo bicultural y bilingüe. He incorporado piezas que mi esposo y yo trajimos de Ilobasco, El Salvador y algunas casas de “Christmas Village” que hemos recogido juntos, como el Teatro de película, y la estación de tren. Mi esposo americano mantiene el argumento de que el nacimiento es algo fuera de control y que no es una escena de la natividad correcta, con los soldados, cachiporras, los animales de todo el mundo, etc., pero cada vez que mi hermana me manda más figuras para agregar, mi esposo no puede esperar para ver cuál es esta vez y donde yo la voy a poner! Mi esposo aún me convenció añadir un tren eléctrico para dar la vuelta alrededor del pueblo!

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

On Wednesday on the Facebook page, during a conversation about nativities, a friend and reader of Latinaish.com, (“Lady Amalthea”), mentioned that she had a nativity that she wanted to share with everyone. We originally planned to share it on the Facebook page, but when I saw the photo I immediately knew it was very special and had to be shared here.

In the words of “Lady Amalthea”:

[My nativity is] bicultural and bilingual. I incorporated pieces that my husband and I brought from Ilobasco, El Salvador and some Christmas village houses we have collected together, such as the movie theater, and the train station. My American husband keeps arguing that it’s getting out of hand and it’s not a nativity scene at all, with soldiers, cachiporras [cheerleaders], animals everywhere, etc., but every time my sister sends me more figures to add to it, he cannot wait to see which one it is this time and where I am going to place it! He even talked me into adding an electrical train to go around the village!

Mixing Traditions for a Bicultural Christmas

(Free Gift Tag! Go ahead and print this image to attach to gifts for familia y amigos!)

(Free Gift Tag! Go ahead and print this image to attach to gifts for familia y amigos!)

Most of you know that I write for several websites each month. I usually share those links on the Latinaish Facebook Page, but I wanted to link this one up here for those who might not be on Facebook since this particular post is so relevant to my usual content on Latinaish. I also took the opportunity to make a bicultural/bilingual gift tag for your Christmas gifts (see above!) Feel free to print it out and use it!

Now for the post:

Mixing Traditions for a Bicultural Christmas

Fifteen years ago I married Carlos, a Salvadoran immigrant who spoke little English. Because we were young, pregnant, and poor at the time—instead of moving to our own place—I moved Carlos into my parents’ house where I was still living. From the outside it didn’t seem like the most ideal situation, but living with my English-speaking Anglo parents turned out to be a unique opportunity for Carlos to get a crash course in English and American culture.

Of course, living in such a situation made our diverse backgrounds that much more apparent—especially during holidays, and especially during Christmas…[READ MORE HERE]

Gringos can’t dance?

“Los americanos no bailan” – it was something my suegra always said, usually with arms crossed over her chest while sitting at my Anglo parents’ house on a holiday. My parents were always kind enough to invite my suegra to dinner even though she never seemed to like anything about being there. She complained about the American food, complained about the overly-friendly Golden Retrievers, complained that my family spoke English and that she couldn’t understand, complained about the lack of music, complained that no one was dancing.

Because we never danced, Suegra then assumed that it was because we couldn’t dance – that we were incapable of dancing. “Los americanos no saben bailar” – she would say.

When it was discovered at a very early age that my younger son was a natural dancer with an amazing sense of rhythm, she took all the credit. “Puro salvadoreño,” she’d say, or “Este talento viene de parte de mi familia.”

Likewise, when we discovered that my older son lacked rhythm, that no matter how hard he tried, (and that the harder he tried, the worse it was), Suegra blamed it on me. “Ay, pobrecito,” she’d say, “no puede bailar, igual a su mamá.”

The truth is that Suegra has never even seen me dance – and despite what she might think, I don’t dance like Elaine on Seinfeld. Neither will I claim to be as good as Napoleon Dynamite, but I think I do alright.

It’s a common stereotype that white people can’t dance. I guess humans like stereotypes because it gives us a false sense of security that we better understand ourselves, our world and the people in it. The problem is that stereotypes attempt to group people together based on a common trait, but humans, even those that share many things in common, are much too diverse to be categorized in that way.

That being said, in my experience, and without doing scientific research, my hypothesis is that if you walk up to your average gringo on the street and compared his dancing skills with your average Latino on the street, the average Latino would more often be the better dancer. But, why?

I don’t think that this is a result of race or skin color but rather a result of culture. Gringos, as my suegra noticed, don’t tend to dance as often as Latinos. Dance, for many Anglos, just isn’t a part of daily life, perhaps due to our Puritanical roots.

Now, if we all know that “practice makes perfect”, wouldn’t it make sense that the group who practices less, (regardless of any man-made category we could put them in), would quite simply be less skilled than the group that practices more?

Again, this is my unscientific guess as to why “gringos can’t dance” – (and to be clear, this doesn’t apply to all gringos. Some are born with natural talent and some learn to dance very well, even on a professional level.)

If you don’t like my theory, Dave Chappelle has another one.

Fiesta Latina vs. Fiesta Gringa

It’s birthday party season again and one of the more popular posts on Latinaish is Latino vs. Anglo Birthday Party. A Spanish version of this post was even published in the June/July 2010 issue of SerPadres Magazine after being discovered on Tiki Tiki Blog. So here it is for those of you who are new here or who might have missed it!

The Differences Between an Anglo Kid’s Birthday Party and a Latino Kid’s Birthday Party

#1. Who gets to come?

Anglo – Those whose names are written on the invitation.

Latino – Those whose names are written on the invitation, plus their uncles, cousins, and sometimes random neighbors who had nothing better to do that day.

#2. What time should we come?

Anglo – The time is right there on the invitation.

Latino – An hour late, or else the hosts won’t be ready when you arrive.

#3. Food Etiquette

Anglo – Eat only what is given to you. Don’t ask for seconds even if you’re really hungry.

Latino – Eat as much as you want and then ask for plates to take home leftovers for eating later or to bring to family members who didn’t feel like coming.

#4. Singing, dancing, music

Anglo – The only music heard is when the kids sing “Happy Birthday” at cake time. Dancing is rare, but when it happens, it is usually the “Hokey Pokey”.

Latino – WHAT?! I CAN’T HEAR YOU! THE MUSIC IS TOO LOUD! … Adults dance Perreo in front of the kids, no importa.

#5. Alcohol?

Anglo – Of course not! What’s wrong with you?! It’s a CHILDREN’S birthday party!

Latino- Claro que sí! … The cerveza is there in the cooler, hermano!

#6. Entertainment

Anglo – A strict schedule of organized activities and games for the children.

Latino – Niños, go play in the street or something. Stop bothering the grown ups! We’ll do the piñata later! Híjole!

#7. What’re we eating?

Anglo – Probably pizza.

Latino – Steak, chicken, rice, beans, salad, tortillas, etc. Load your styrofoam plate up until it’s ready to crack under the weight.

#8. When does the party end?

Anglo – Refer to your invitation. Thank your hosts and excuse yourself on the dot. Clear out!

Latino – Party until everyone’s tired and/or Tío Eduardo passes out on the couch while watching a fútbol game.

_______

Credit: Images by Eric Peacock and Paul Kelly used to create graphic.

Cascarones vs. Easter Eggs

The first year we made cascarones, I didn’t have any dye so I tried to decorate the entire egg with colored tissue paper and glue. It was messy and they didn’t turn out very pretty, so this year I decided to do it the right way and dye the eggs. I bought your typical $1 kit with colored tablets for egg-dyeing at Easter time – a package that is familiar to me from childhood. However, because these kits are meant for American-style Easter eggs, they come with additional items you don’t need for cascarones which apparently perplexed my 10 year old.

Him: What are these for? [picking up stickers and cardboard egg holders]

Me: We don’t need those. Those are for making American Easter eggs.

Him: You put stickers and these thingies on them before you break them on someone’s head?

Me: No, [laughing] You leave the egg in the shell and cook them – you know hard boiled eggs?

Him: [nods]

Me: Then you dye them, put stickers on them, and these little cardboard thingies are so you can display them until you eat them.

Him: You eat them?! That’s weird!

It kind of boggles my mind that my 10 year old couldn’t remember what regular Easter eggs are – I mean, I made them with them before? When they were little? In the past? Didn’t I?… I don’t remember anymore. Apparently, in recent years I’ve done such a good job of teaching the boys Latin American culture that I now need to step it up with showing them Anglo-American traditions from my own childhood.

Salvadoran Nacimientos vs. American Nativities

Our nativity scene

Nacimientos, or nativities, are something that both Carlos and I grew up with. In my case, the nativity was a simple wooden manger scene with plastic figures: Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus in a bed of straw, an angel, the three wisemen, a cow, a donkey, a couple sheep and their shepherd. My mother always placed the nativity beneath the Christmas tree and my sisters and I were allowed to play with it just like we played with our Barbies or any other toys where we’d act out elaborate storylines while laying on the carpet, completely lost in our own imaginations.

In Carlos’s case, the nacimiento of his childhood took up a large area of their house during the Christmas season. The clay figures included all the same characters we had, plus many more. Salvadoran nacimientos often look more like a bustling city than an intimate scene. No figure is considered inappropriate, from a woman at a pupusería, national soccer players, politicians, drunks, Chavo del 8, and short-skirted cheerleaders with batons known as “cachiporras” to the devil himself.

Carlos’s childhood nativity sounds like a dream come true! I can only imagine how many hours my sisters and I would have played with such a scene – except that Carlos tells me that playing with it was absolutely not allowed.

Now that we’re grown and married with our own household, we put up our own nativity scene. The first year we bought it and put it up, we had an argument about baby Jesus. Carlos couldn’t understand why I put baby Jesus into the manger and I couldn’t understand why he kept taking it out and hiding it. Carlos says that in El Salvador, you don’t put El Niño Jesús in the manger until he’s born. What I was doing – displaying the complete scene with the baby weeks before Christmas – made absolutely no sense to him – (Although cheerleaders attending the birth of Christ apparently makes sense, but I digress.)

For a few years, although I thought it was weird, I let him hide baby Jesus. I also insisted that by his logic, the three kings should be hidden until January, but he ignored me. At this point I must have gotten used to his way of doing things because when I set up the nativity, I handed Jesus over to him without a word and watched him stick him behind a picture frame on a shelf.

This year I’ve tried to make our Nativity a little more Salvadoran. I added a house plant as a palm tree and some rocks from la Libertad, but I definitely want to buy some characters in the years to come. I like the idea of expanding the nativity to look like a town in San Salvador… as long as Carlos let’s me play with it.

What kind of nativity do you have? Do you allow your children to play with the nativity? Why or why not?

Other links to check out:

Los tradicionales nacimientos de barro – Youtube video from ElSalvador.com