About 10 years ago I had the opportunity to befriend a VIF (Visiting International Faculty) teacher from El Salvador. We would share many life stories over the years and always, always, we were eating. When I would visit her apartment, she would make the most delicious pupusas. But even though they were the best to me, she would always remind me that the best ones were the ones cooked in her country, the authentic way – over a comal. I have longed for the opportunity to try these pupusas the authentic way and finally that day has come, albeit ten years later.
I will admit, that although my friend taught me how to make pupusas, the ones I ate in San Pedro were of no real comparison. I believe there’s something special about food cooked the way you remember. It becomes more than about the food, but more about the associations you make with the food. So when I think about it, pupusas are made from simple ingredients: maseca, water, and whatever you want inside (cheese, beans, meat, or a combination). But when I eat pupusas, I think of my friend.
I believe that food is such an integral part of one’s culture. It stirs up memories. I think it’s shameful that those who immigrate to the U.S. often feel that they have to give up their culture to assimilate to what is considered the culture of America. In the classroom I’ve witnessed parents forbidding their children to speak their first language or trying to do everything the “American” way. Sadly, those that I have met as adults who endured this as children, feel that they have lost a part of themselves; a part that they cannot pass on to their own children. So to them, I say, “Embrace your culture. After all, that’s what’s supposed to be the American way, right?”
Nom Nom Nom,