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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.

Discrimination alive and well in 2011

I have never been so insulted in all my life! I CANNOT believe that in this day and age, Latinos are still being discriminated in such a blatant and obvious manner.

This week I was contacted by a staffmember of Emeril Lagasse’s show to ask if I wanted to be a guest on his new show, on a episode that was featuring tamales. I was thrilled naturally, and was even more excited when I was asked to invite four friends. I submitted names and contact information for all the guests. Shortly thereafter, I received a strange phone call, which asked me if the guests had “accents”…when I asked what exactly “accents” meant, I was told that the guests needed to be clearly understood. I assured the staff member that all my guests were fluent in English (one of them is my EDITOR for God’s sake!!).

Today I get another phone call from the Emeril team to tell me that while they “liked” one particular guest (it’s funny that she had THE most ethnic name), my other 2 guests sounded too ethnic. Excuse me, but when did this become a mono-ethnic society. My guests are not only fluent, they hold jobs where the English language is a career necessity, and as such they are clearly well versed (like I said, FLUENT!!).

I assured the said staff member that I was completely insulted; I thought it hypocritical that an episode which is featuring Latin American cuisine (tamales) deems it necessary to serve and instruct people who only sound WHITE!!

I have always had nothing but repect and admiration for Emeril, who I consider a collegue and a peer…until today! Wild horses couldn’t drag me there and I am going to make sure that everyone I know learns about this disgusting display of discrimination.

Daisy’s June News !

Hot time, summer in the city! The beaches are open, the kids are out of school, and I’ve even been invited to march in the Puerto Rican Day Parade! There is no shortage of things to celebrate, including receiving multiple awards from the 2011 International Latino Book Awards.

Best Cookbook – English

First Place:

DAISY: MORNING, NOON AND NIGHT

Daisy Martinez

Atria Books

Second Place:

DAISY’S HOLIDAY COOKING: DELICIOUS LATIN RECIPES FOR EFFORTLESS ENTERTAINING

Daisy Martinez

Atria Books

Best Cookbook – Spanish or Bilingual

First Place:

DAISY: MAÑANA, MEDIODIA Y NOCHE

Daisy Martinez

Atria Books

 

I am still breaking into spontaneous bouts of dance every time I think about it! Thank you all so very much for supporting the books, and to the wonderful Judith Curr, Johanna Castillo and the rest of Team Atria for making my dreams come true!

But I digress…we’re talking summer, and nothing says summer to me like salad, and I don’t mean an iceberg lettuce leaf, a slice of tomato and a slice of avocado (I call this “Puerto Rican” salad). There is no shortage of seasonal delicious produce to put in a salad, and you can include greens, vegetables, fruit, nuts, bread, herbs…the possibilities are endless!

Every time I serve this salad, my friends and family always says, “I would have never put these ingredients together, but this is my new favorite salad!” Not only is this salad colorful and delicious, it is incredibly easy to put together with a minimal amount of prep, but is incredibly colorful and festive. Take a peak at my Watermelon-Blue Cheese Salad with Red Onion, Black Olives and Balsamic Glaze Dressing.

 

 

The variations to this salad are only defined by what you have in your fruit and veggie bin in the refrigerator! Play with a variety of olives, capers, caperberries, blueberries, black berries, spiced pecans (*catching my breath*!!), Parmesan curls, feta crumbles, grated Cotija cheese, pineapple mint, basil, parsley…well, you the picture.

 

I’ll also be appearing at the Havana Central Restaurant Wednesday June 8th for a cooking demo and book signing (did I mention they are award winning books? ;-), so for all of you who inundate me with emails asking, “Where can I see you?”, “When are you signing books?”, this is your cue! Stop by for a fun demo, great food, and a few laughs!

 

You can also find me on eHow.com’s new section starting this month “Rach’s Buddies doing some new “how to” webisodes. Make sure to stop by and take a peek at Boriquablog.com for the link, which should be available in the next week or so!

Churros, Chocolate and Champagne

The warm weather this past week (along with the Book Expo America at the Javits Center) brought The Sofrito Girls together for some catching up. As usual, the Girls leave it to me to come up with restaurant reservations, and after some very strong suggestions from the ever tireless Carola (my assistant), and their win for Most Creative Paella at the 3rd Annual Paella Parade at Pier 17 last Monday, I made our dinner arrangements at Nuela in the Flat Iron district.

(From left to right) Daisy, Loni, Violette, Esmeralda

The Sofritos are a pretty energetic, vocal group (ahem!), but when it comes to ordering in a restaurant, they pretty much defer to me, so without much fanfare, I started the evening’s culinary adventure with a variety of appetizers.

Empanada Mendocino

We started out with a delicious short rib empanada garnished with hardboiled eggs that was chunky, savory, and delicious with a slightly tangy-sweet finish. The crust was tender and flaky and the Sofritos agreed that this was a definite candidate for the Empanada Hall of Fame. Okay, we were off to a seriously good start, but could the rest of the evening still inspire the oohs and ahhs that our first appetizer elicited? We were about to ofind out!

Continue reading ‘Churros, Chocolate and Champagne’

March 2011

What Lion? What Lamb?? March is Soup Season!!!

I don’t know about you, but when the crazy weather of March arrives, you can park me right in front of a steamy, fragrant bowl of soup, and you can color me happy!! That is our March newsletter’s theme this month: SOUP, SOUP, GLORIOUS SOUP! I love it with chicken, with beef, with chickpeas and bacalao. I love it with lentils, and pasta, and rice, and….well, you get the picture. In my home nothing says comfort and love like a big bowl of slurpy, satisfying soup!

When I was a little girl, one of my favorite books was Maurice Sendak’s “Chicken Soup with Rice”. I never tired of reading it, in fact, I actually committed it to memory! Such has been my love affair with soup, so, here we go, sipping once, sipping twice…!

I could never start a conversation about soup without talking about my Abuela’s chicken soup. That recipe has undergone numerous revisions, but my current favorite is one that I enjoyed while visiting Mexico with my family. It is a dizzyingly delicious soup with an aromatic, enriched broth, tender chicken, vibrant veggies, and some surprise garnishes that will leave you wanting for more. I don’t want to give the secret away, so make sure you watch the video of Daisy’s Latin Cooking 101. You’ll never look at chicken soup the same again! You might even add some favorites of your own. Let the wind blow, you’re armed to the teeth with your Chicken Soup!

When Mami and Papi visit, I always leave a pot of soup simmering on the stove while I pick them up at the airport, so they’ll have a bowl of something comfy when they arrive at my house. Papi’s favorite is Split Pea Soup, and the thicker, the better. In fact Papi always says that he likes his split pea soup better on the second day, so I make sure to make enough for leftovers. I plunck a big smoked ham hock in the simmering soup, and that adds a smoky sweetness to the split peas that is nothing short of rapturous. I’m here to tell you that when that soup is ready, all you have to add is your spoon!

Next on the lineup of our soup parade is my Lentil and Dominican Longaniza Soup. I often marvel at how some of the humblest ingredients can often be coaxed into the most deliciously amazing dishes…think bacalao (salt cod), beans, a perfectly poached egg, a pot of gently simmered lentils. I start mine out by browning a ring of longaniza (if you can’t find longaniza, try another sausage ring, as long as it is highly seasoned), cut into smallish pieces, and then caramelizing the aromatics (onion, carrots, celery, bay leaf, and thyme), adding beef broth, and adding my own little spin at the end. Honey, it will be like taking little sips of heaven!

So there you have it! There are soups that can be served as a first course, or hearty enough to be the main attraction; the choice is yours to make! Make sure you stop by Boriquablog.com to see our fun cooking lesson videos, and make sure you leave a comment or two! I always love hearing from you, and enjoy your tips and suggestions! See you in April!

Buen Provecho!!


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