by Esteban Marroquin
Hello once again,
I want to thank The Huckleberry Press for welcoming me back onto their pages. It has been a while since my last article. We all have been affected by Covid-19 in some way. It has been challenging and, at times, frustrating to continue to enjoy the things we enjoyed before all of this. For me it has been extremely challenging because of what I love to do, COOKING…! My happiness comes from creating something old or brand new and being able to share that culinary creation with friends and family. We practice social distancing and have come up with ways to share, like curbside pick-up. I am wishing and waiting to be able to sit among friends and family at the table, break bread and have long meaningful conversations while enjoying amazing food.
Now I want to have a conversation with all of you. “Tradition” and “Traditions” are different. Almost every family has “Traditions.” Thanksgiving, for example, is probably one of the biggest and well-known traditions. We all know of the Thanksgiving traditions as they pertain to our family circles and the things that are shared that day.
Throughout the years on my culinary journey I have always been amazed about other people’s “traditions” that comes with the “tradition.”
As many know, I am an American-born Mexican. Growing up, we had Thanksgiving at our house with all the things that came with that…Wait…What..??? It wasn’t until I visited friends’ houses during Thanksgiving that I learned theirs looked and smelled a little bit different than ours. I was amazed at all the different dishes that were made in a ”Traditional” American Thanksgiving dinner at my friend’s house, from the turkey, to the gravy, mashed potatoes, cranberry dressing, and stuffing. I was in awe of their version. While we had turkey, roasted in the oven with some Mexican spices sometimes, we had tamales, empanadas, Mexican rice and beans with hot sauce. It was this discovery and many more I would make through life that impressed me as I observed the differences between “Tradition” and “Traditions.” The most popular events were the ones that impressed me the most: Easter and Christmas. And then there were the cultural traditions like St. Patrick’s Day, Oktoberfest, Chinese New Year, Kwanza, and even Cinco de Mayo and Dia de Los Muertos. All of these cultural traditions have amazing culinary history.
Christmas “Traditions” for Mexicans have some things that remind me of American “Tradition;” like Christmas caroling in the streets of your community. Growing up we would go out in our communities and sing Christmas church songs called ”Posadas.” The wonderful thing was that when you went to someone’s house to sing (it was usually freezing outside) you would get invited in, knowing that the family inviting you in was going to share freshly made food and drink for you to enjoy before going on to sing at the next house.
Whether it was Thanksgiving or Christmas, the tradition part of my own family would be that every year for Thanksgiving we would do a differently themed or influenced dinner, such as Italian influenced turkey dinner or American BBQ or Asian influenced turkey with all the sides. Whether it was a turkey or a ham, our tradition was to put our family twist on “Traditional” with our own tradition.
As things change in life so does our overall situation in marriage, divorce, death, life. Through all these times we and I still hold on to those “Traditions” and “Tradition” that we always experienced through good times and the bad. The cornerstone of life and living is to eat and, more importantly, to break bread to reach new people simply through a dish or to reinforce those ties that bind us by an old favorite meal, knowing a loved one would appreciate it.
Things have changed a lot for me in my life in the span of two years, but I choose to not let it define who I am or was. I embrace it and learn from it, but at the end of the day I continue to come up with new recipes with my brilliant son who inspires me to keep creating. And I listen to my older daughters who remember growing up eating the food that my mother made them, which by the way, ignited the flame inside me to create food. I started cooking out of necessity, but cooking became a passion to explore where my creations could take me. My little Lily Rain’s free spirit blossoms in every way becoming who she is: an artist, a singer, a dancer, a painter and even maybe a chef. Our tradition when she is with me is to make her favorite pancakes. She gets to help make the pancakes and cracks the eggs and scrambles them for our breakfast.
As time goes on and things in this crazy world keep changing, let us not forget ourselves; who we are, where we come from, and what makes our family and friends so special. Remember these sayings: Diversity through Unity; Make a Meal, Share a Meal, Give a Meal; Food is life, and Live a happy life.
Thank you to all my family and friends who support what I love to do, because what I love to do is for all of you. I am truly humbled.
“Food does not mean anything without family and friends to share it with.”
Facebook@ Estebans Culinary Creations