My mom was born in Puerto Rico in the year of 1941. She came to New York in 1957. The biggest challenge for her at the time was learning English. 

She then moved to Texas in 1958. My parents eloped in 1959. Their marriage was met with joy and anger. Can’t please everyone.

My mom often talked about her childhood. She would talk about her heritage. She had a grandfather who was Spanish. Her mother was descended from the native tribes of Puerto Rico. That is all that she knew. 

One thing that she enjoyed teaching me about her heritage was the food. She was very different from my father in that she told me everything that she remembered. Food was her expertise.

I learned to make many Puerto Rican dishes. I also learned to make Mexican food from her. She learned from my father’s mother how to make many Mexican dishes. I learned from her the dishes of my Mexican and Puerto Rican heritage.

On New Year’s, we would have Lechon, arroz con gandules and pasteles. Pasteles were my favorite. Tortilla de papas was a quick and easy dinner. Sancocho was made on cold winter days. A few of the many Puerto Rican dishes.

We would make tamales for Christmas. It was a lot of work and it was worth it. Enchiladas were a favorite of the family. Menudo for those cold winter days. A few of the many Mexican dishes.

In Hispanic culture, food is very important. That part of my heritage,  I was taught and I teach my daughter with pride and joy.

I’m very proud to be a Mexican-Puerto Rican-American. Viva Mexico! Viva Puerto Rico! Viva America!

~Rita Romero 

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