We keep food traditions even while apart
By Edwar Aviles-Mercedes, as told to Ivy Scott
I’m not at all a picky eater, but I particularly like Dominican cuisine because it hits close to home. There’s this dessert called habichuelas con dulce which is “beans with sugar,” if you translate it literally. It’s a dish my grandma always makes for the holidays and for special occasions. I remember smelling it in the morning when she started cooking, and as soon as the rest of the family would smell it, we’d all run down to the kitchen.
Another thing we’d eat were tostones, or fried plantains. Usually, you serve those with salami, fried cheese, and an egg, which Dominicans refer to as los tres golpes or “the three hits” because it’s like you’re getting hit with three amazing flavors on your plate at once. I remember having both of those dishes with morir soñando, which is a drink that means “dying while sleeping.” It’s mainly orange juice with condensed milk, and it sure does knock you out, it’s that good.
Now with COVID, I do worry that the traditions might fade. But we’re finding ways to stay connected. Even now, every time my grandma’s cooking something, she calls me through video chat to say, “Ooh, look what I’m making!” She’ll try to tease me and joke that she’s gonna send me some. So I think that within communities and households, those kinds of food traditions are staying alive. You can’t really do large gatherings like before, but I think people will still come together at the real or virtual dinner table to eat these good, traditional foods.
Edwar Aviles-Mercedes is a recent college graduate living in Atlanta.