Lead quote from our #ICCSomm grad #Jacob

Lead quote from our #ICCSomm grad #JacobJacobeit http://ow.ly/UKX15 #ICCAlumni #ICCedu

Welcome to the Twitterverse @FreelanceFo

Welcome to the Twitterverse @FreelanceFoodLLC!!! #embracethedarkside

What to Eat at Marta, Danny Meyer’s Bran

What to Eat at Marta, Danny Meyer’s Brand-New Pizzeria http://www.grubstreet.com/2014/09/marta-opens-danny-meyer.html via @grubstreet! Cant wait to go! My son Eric is Asst GM

One More Night!!! Sing to me Adam! #Maro

One More Night!!! Sing to me Adam! #Maroon5TODAY

“I like to think that our Saturday afte

“I like to think that our Saturday afternoon, two years ago, had something to do with their journey.” -Daisy http://ow.ly/oflye /wt

April 18th!! Can’t wait! #fiercebitches

April 18th!! Can’t wait! #fiercebitches #HBOHABLAWOMEN #setyourdvrs!

Back in the Saddle!!

I’m starting the New Year off with a bang, and the right way!! I’m taking the inaugural Intensive Sommelier Class at the French Culinary Institute to broaden my knowledge of food and wine and meet some great new people in the meantime. The course sounds like it is going to be a LOT of work, but that only makes it more exciting for me. There will be field trips, food pairings, and tons of study (2-3 hours a night!!). I will be keeping a running journal of my adventures here on BBlog, so stay tuned..I’m sure we will learn much, laugh lots, and blaze trails!Imagem st

RT @antoniamarrero: #FF @La_Daisy @Esmo

RT @antoniamarrero: #FF @La_Daisy @Esmo “Dos #Puertoriqueñas Magníficas” One nurtures your tummy, one nurtures your mind. Both nurture your heart & imagination.

RT @ehowfood: Want to get your arañita o

RT @ehowfood: Want to get your arañita on? You will after @La_Daisy shows you how to make crispy Puerto Rican plantain fritters: http://to.ehow.com/nfITVL

Orgullo

A couple of years ago, I had the honor of being asked to attend an annual luncheon hosted by El Diario La Prensa‘s for “Mujeres Destacadas“, where not only was I being recognised for my contribution to the Latino community, but the keynote speaker was no other than my hero and mentor,  author, Esmeralda Santiago. With her usual grace and dignity, Esmeralda proceeded to the podium at the appointed time, and proceeded to give a speech on “Orgullo”, or “Pride”.  As usual, Esmeralda’s words moved me tremendously, giving articulation to feelings I had no words for, and this weekend, just in time for The National Puerto Rican Day Parade, I would like to add my two cents to the pot, so to speak.

One of my earliest memories growing up in my abuela’s two family house, was running down into abuela’s bedroom on Saturday mornings, and climbing onto her giant (or at least it seemed giant to three-year old me!) four poster bed. After torturing her by pulling her braids, and sticking my fingers in her ears (perdoname abuela!), she would get up and take me downstairs to her kitchen, and make me breakfast while The Thunderbirds played on her 12inch screen TV. “Ven mijita”, she would call when my hot rice cereal, or soft-boiled eggs were ready, and I would sit at her table where she serve me while she drank her first cup of coffee of the day, the faintest trace of a smile on her lips. The language at home was Spanish, and surrounded as I was by extended family and friends, it was as much as I needed to know…everyone spoke the same language. There was a 10 year old girl who lived in the house next door, and I would make garbled made up word-sounds to try to communicate with her; at least that is what her words sounded like to me…

After my family moved away from abuela’s house in Brooklyn, I had the rude realization that while my language was Spanish in my parents’ home, things were quite different on the outside, and my made-up sounds were not going to cut it. I entered the first grade without knowing a word of English (there were no bilingual classes in those days), and while I was quite the novelty for the first few days of school, my parents impressed the importance of learning the language and doing well in school. Papi would read the daily newspapers with me when he came home from work, smelling faintly of smoke from his job as a firefighter with the FDNY. By the end of the first grade, I had the highest reading level in the class. My parents said, “Que orgullo“.

Fast forward to my sulky adolescence, again walking with my abuela, and being one of the clumsiest kids I knew…forever tripping over everything including my feet. Awkward doesn’t start to define me as a tween…in fact, my nickname from my cousins was “Skeleton-a-Go-Go”! So anyway, here I am one day, carrying abuela’s bags and looking down at the floor while walking, because anything less than that was going to land my spindly self on the floor, when abuela (who never had even a cross word!) comes up behind me and smacks me upside my head! I whirled around in disbelief, the protest already formed on my lips, when abuela looked at me square in the eye and said, “Pick your head up! I never want to see you walking with your head hung down like that; your abuelo and I have worked way too hard so that you can hold your head up high!” Orgullo

My parents and my family taught me the beauty of my culture and how to celebrate it. The advantage of having Spanish as a first language allowed me to score off the record in vocabulary and English, as I was able to decipher the meaning of hundreds of words from their “Latin” roots. The joy of our music, the “sazon” of our food, our love of family and tradition: those were a few of the many gifts my family gave me to celebrate my heritage and enrich my contribution as an American. Summer vacations in Puerto Rico listening to Mami and Las Tias talkng about their mischief while growing up in Puerto Rico, about the struggle and journey in Nueva York, and their misadventures there…listening to abuela tell stories about baking sweet potatoes that my abuelo would put in his pockets to keep his hands warm in the winter, while walking over the Brooklyn Bridge to go to work, then eating those same batatas for his lunch.  Orgullo

As a grown woman, I knew that this pride in who I was and where I came from was something I wanted to instill in my children, because I’ve come to realize how many times that gift has shored me up. This heritage is part of the legacy I leave them, and I wanted them to know that although there will be many instances where there will be people who are threatened by who they are and where they come from; this can be chalked up to ignorance mostly and should be forgiven, but not forgotten, for how are we to educate the world, if not by teaching? This lesson was never better exemplified than by an experience I had with my oldest son when applying to college. He had his heart set on going to Cornell University, but his guidance counselor told him not to bother wasting his mother’s money on the application, because he would never get in. I told him that he should not let anyone ever tell him what he was capable or incapable of; I believed he could do anything,so he sent the applications along with my check and my blessing.

As luck would have it, he got every acceptance letter back with the exception of the letter from Cornell. I invited him to visit other schools with me in the eventuality that the response from Cornell would be a negative; he declined. The day the letter finally arrived, I beeped him (remember those?), and asked him if he wanted me to open it or if we should wait for him to get home. He asked me to open it, and I was thrilled to read his acceptance to Cornell to him over the phone. He ran home, took the letter all the way back to school, went to the counselor’s office, and said, “My mother said I can do anything”. That application fee was the best money I’ve ever spent. I remembered the incident as I stood in the campus stadium as my son graduated Cornell University’s class of 2004. Orgullo

Today, I am asked  to come to schools and speak to the point of my experience is as a Latina in today’s world and of my journey to my achievements. I love the opportunity to meet with young people, and hopefully leave them with a few words that will take them through rough waters should they ever face the ignorance and ugliness of prejudice. The first thing I tell them is to thank their family and their teachers for the gifts of love, encouragement, history and wisdom they receive every single day; those gifts are the armor they  will wear when face with the challenges that opportunities invariably bring. The second thing I tell them is that they should be poised “on their mark” right outside the door, so that when opportunity knocks, they are ready to pounce through that door! Thirdly, and maybe most importantly, I tell them that no one gets to tell them that they are not smart enough, strong enough, pretty enough, fast enough…fill in the blank! Their “Latinism” is to be celebrated! No one gets to define them but them; they start out as young Latinos and Latinas, from there, they should learn to soar, and learn the meaning of orgullo.

Thankfully, I have had innumerable moments in my life where I have felt pride; attending the promotion ceremony when my  father was promoted to Captain in the FDNY, my childrens’ first words and steps, their first days in school and their accomplishments, the day I mastered my taillage at the FCI, and won first prize for my Final Project, the days my books were recognized. From the outside looking in, those are small enough moments, but they are some of the moments that defined my life.

I am a Latina. I was born in this country of mainland Puerto Rican parents who came here like everyone else did (with the exception of Native Americans) looking to fulfill the American Dream. I speak two languages fluently, and I straddle two cultures, which makes me a more interesting, culturally rich person. I could not be who I am today, or achieved all I have done by denying any part of my persona; I am rabidly proud of the racial inheritance my parents have so proudly left me. My ethnicity is not an embarrassment or an excuse, it is my battle cry and my contribution to today’s society. It is my orgullo

This weekend, if you attend the parade or watch it on TV, take a moment to remember all of those who have forged a way for the rest of the community, in whatever humble way: the mothers, the fathers, the grandparents, the teachers, the physicians, the nurses, the lawyers, the business people, the Supreme Court Justices,…all of those who have struggled before us, and to all of those who will follow,  let us honor them… with orgullo.


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