I first learned of Kwanzaa after graduating from college, when a Nigerian-American friend invited me over to her family’s dinner to celebrate the occasion. Years later, I would celebrate Kwanzaa in my home and use it as an opportunity to explore cuisines from the African diaspora: Caribbean, South American and Southeast Asian while contemplating on one of the daily principles. This year, our Kwanzaa could be influenced by Senegal because of the beauty of Pierre Thiam’s cookbook, From Senegal: Modern Senegalese Recipes from the Source to the Bowl.
2014 was the year that failure was recognized as an attribute towards the journey of success. That’s if the lesson was learned from the act of failure. This recipe was a difficult dish to develop. It was perfect the first time. The second attempt was too sweet. The third try lacked a flavorful taste. And, when the dish was finally successful, it was perfect.
One of the initial plans when returning back to a full-time career was to immediately start saving for a washer and dryer for our apartment. There were few times in my early life I remember going with Mom to the laundromat. As a young child, laundry day was dreaded. It’s a boring place. The afternoons were worst, because the televisions only ran soap operas. Back then, there were only a few channels. The wash and spin sound was irritating. The combination of various dryers turning consistently was boisterously loud. As a young family working hard to better our lives, we eventually moved out of apartment living into a newly constructed house with our own laundry room. Even in college, I would come home on weekends to do laundry to avoid the school’s laundromat. Today, using a public laundromat at my age is beyond the farthest imagination of how I was going to live as an adult. Read more
Next to Southern dishes, Mexican cuisine is my other comfort food. When my boyfriend and I started dating, I mentioned to him I wanted Spanish food. Instead, we ate at a Puerto Rican restaurant, New York City style. I was a bit confused, because I wanted enchiladas, tacos or a dish made with corn tortillas topped with a mole sauce. It doesn’t take long to realize, his other comfort food are Dominican or Puerto Rican cuisine. When he says, “Baby, I’m bringing home Spanish food. Did you want a plate?” Now I know what to expect.