Once pandemic hit, it seemed like time collectively stood still. This once in a lifetime global pause allowed us to reconsider our roots, beliefs and, in doing so, plot out how to survive this novel, ongoing, and stressful situation.
It made us realize what is really important in this fast-paced, beating the clock, rushing through-out the day world we have inevitably become accustomed to because you know what they say, “time is money.” Or is it, really? Is that the only thing that matters in this modern era?
Time will not always be in our favor, especially when we rush through our lives and forget to ask our parents and grandparents in detail for one of the essential aspects of our everyday lives.
I am talking about those delicious, verbally taught, mouth-watering recipes given to us with vague ingredient instructions (“poquito de esto” OK, but what does poquito mean to you?!) that always seem to come out tastier than that last time it was cooked.
Sure enough, our older relatives had their own deeper struggles being a valid reason why the simpler ingredient based recipes are our common go-to’s.
However, by connecting, dissecting, and ultimately preserving their hand-me-down methods, we in this technological-driven generation need to realize these gems will not be taught in books, online, or by merely binge-watching on Netflix.
These gems are necessary, but sometimes overlooked (because mom is always one call away) skills passed through generations. They are history in each recipe, each essential tip that can all be missed if we don’t take our time to learn them and continue sharing them with our next generation.
During the first month of the global shutdown, my schedule suddenly became clear. I’m sure it happened to many of us where we had a moment of standstill, full of questioning an unforeseeable future.
Personally, as a music publicist, spring tours were approaching, and one by one, I watched them get postponed or canceled. Still, the futures of these smaller and independent venues aren’t known.
I knew I would be having more time than usual, and all I thought of was to use this spontaneously given time with my mom and sister. We are constantly rushing and working that by the time we have time together, we are tired and mindlessly watching the repetitive news at 6 p.m.
If there was ever a time, it was now to do something creative, educational, and time-consuming.
We decided to buy masa and make quesadillas that day, and with the leftover, we made gorditas and sopes that lasted us the rest of the week. Yes, we could have gone to the local market or ordered from a delivery service, but at the time, we were terrified of the then-unknown details of COVID-19.
During this time of rolling the masa into balls and putting it on the tortilla press, my mom shared anecdotes of how she would make them when she was growing up and how a gordita with butter and salt was a favorite treat when they could afford it.
That moment is something I’ll treasure in this lifetime: a moment of positivity in what was a collectively fearful situation. It was the time to listen to my mom share her stories growing up and value a simple ingredient that goes a long way.
That curiously led me to think about all the other dishes that my mom easily makes and that I obviously don’t know how to make — especially during this holiday season.
So, my sister and I asked if she could make us pozole — which in hindsight is a recipe that could be searched and learned to make online — but there’s something exact about her recipe that was mastered throughout the years.
That’s the magic in generational recipes: with time, they only get more delicious. Not only are these recipes important within our immediate and extended families to create a bond, but they have also become another way to document our culture and story. Everyone does their dishes differently, modified in some way to create their own touch.
Our recipes’ documentation is crucial, whether it’s us asking our parents to create our exclusive sazones or highlighted our cultures in a more major aspect. Our Internet culture’s upside is that trends come in waves and open our minds to cultures we are missing out on. What’s new; what’s trending?
We have access to quick information at our fingertips and with that comes access to any subject we can think of.
Last year, two of Netflix’s original documentaries and series’ Street Food: Latin America and Las Crónicas del Taco (Taco Chronicles) made their debuts, respectively, and took us on a journey of both traditional and historical foods by introducing us to their roots.
It’s significantly important for our cultures to be documented in a global aspect and respect these simple pleasures that have been passed on through generations from being made popular within our communities and what they have to work with.
Now entering the holiday season, we are expected to know our family’s recipes off the top of our heads. Although some of us may alter the ingredients here and there, we should always take the time to document every alteration, whatever the case may be.
In an interesting article in The Boston Globe, the writer explored the importance of writing down recipes in cards, featuring a citizen saying, “If you destroy them, you’re destroying generations of family history.” And that’s the tea. No, but really, by saving these cards, we pay tribute to our family and continue to savor their teachings. It’s an act of love and respect.
So before time passes and it’s too late, we have to make time to call up our Ama or abuelita and ask in detail, “¿Cómo haces el pozole?” No Google search will give you that exact flavor and comfort than what your own family’s recipe will.
It’s a pleasure to continue these flavorful trajectories. ¡Buen provecho!