Eating Ethnicity

Something that has come up several times within the background of the readings this semester and a subject we have talked about more extensively in American Material Cultures is the presence of food ways in different ethnic groups in America.  Food traditions are intimately linked to individuals’ ethnic, religious and geographic characteristics.  In Roots Too Jacobsen discusses Martin Scorsese’s first documentary, Italianamerican, which focuses on his parents and their Italian heritage.  His mother is shown throughout the film making a giant pot of traditional spaghetti sauce.  Anzia Yezierska’s Sara Smolinsky, in her loneliness, dreams of being back in her family’s crowded kitchen eating dinner together.  “Fiesta 1980” invites readers to experience a traditional Dominican celebration which is only complete with massive amounts of communally prepared food. 

What happens to traditional ethnic food ways within a foreign environment?  It seems through the readings that traditional food ways are more persistent than say, fashion or religion or even nationalism.  Today food styles are categorized by ethnic heritage, Mexican, Italian, Chinese.  And there are even ethnic groups who, on the reverse end, are well-known for not having very palatable food ways.  We all assume that ethnic food ways will be changed to accommodate available ingredients and supplies with a new environment, but the dishes and preparation methods seem to remain instilled throughout generations.  Of course, current generations of Italian-Americans may mindlessly grab their jars of spaghetti sauce off the grocery store shelf, and Irish-Americans may only enjoy corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day, but the food remains connected to the people.  So in light of last week’s class topic, I thought maybe some authentic Puerto Rico food could bring in another dimension of the Latino-American experience…plus, it’s amazingly delicious!

Rice with Green Pigeon Peas

1 cup Goya brand rice

1 3/4 cup of water

1/2 cup chopped ham

1/4 cup vegetable oil

2 packs of sazon ( Cilantro and Achiote goya brand)

1 can of green pigeon peas undrained

2 tablespoons of sofrito Goya brand

Add salt as desire

In a pan boil water add oil, sofrito, ham, salt, pigeon peas, sazon. Leave it to boil for about 3 mins.  Add rice, boil another 3 mins. Stir rice then set stove to low heat. Cover pan stir for the first 3 mins then leave sit on low heat.  Occasionally stir to keep rice from sticking to bottom of pan.

Budin de Pan

1 pound of bread sliced

4 cups of milk

4 eggs

1 1/2 cups of sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup of raisins (optional)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor mix bread, milk, and eggs and mix well. Add rest of ingredients. Put into 2 cake pans, bake for 35-40 min.  Let cool and serve.

**Recipes provided by my wonderful brother-in-law: chef/video gamer extraordinaire.

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