Monday, February 25, 2013

Patchen Avenue Memories

Cooking "Dominican" food always reminds me of my grandmother. Almost everything I learned in the kitchen I learned from watching her. My mom taught me lots, of course, but mostly my skills can be traced back to hovering over grandma in the kitchen because I was STARVING and yelling "When is dinner going to be ready!" over her shoulder.

(Please note that I got home from school by 3PM and dinner was always ready by 4:30, and I always had some cookies or a PB&J sandwich with milk after school. So I was just being greedy!)

Yesterday the homie Tiffany opened up her kitchen so that I could commemorate the Oscars and the last week of New York's Dominican Heritage Month with some traditional-esque cuisine.

Please trust that Grandma used dry beans, not canned stuff.
She was an OG that way.

(c) 2013 Tiffany via Instagram lol
As she and the others asked me questions about my process, it dawned on me that a lot of it is stuff Grandma used to do (a salt wash for the tostones and sealing the rice pot w/aluminum foil) and Mami taught me to do (stab the raw meat so the seasonings seep INTO the meat and not just onto the skin), and then the kitchen smelled like cooking oil and VOILA- I was a kid again pestering Grandma about the ETA of my dang grub!

This also brings up other memories of growing up in that huge railroad apartment in the heart of Bedford-Stuyvesant Brooklyn, especially after sharing a lot of those details this weekend during my little talk at Church of Monika, like:

> Riding bikes indoors because we couldn't go outside
> Hosting a variety show in the living room (with an invisible audience, of course)
> Giving nicknames to the regulars who passed by our window (Flower Boy, Portia [Porcupine], Rainbow Brite)
> Watching The Exorcist in the living room under a blanket after Titi Gloris got us cable
> Hand-washing my clothes in the bathroom sink, regardless of them going into the washer or not

It was a pretty good life, I must say, and I have amazing memories to last me a lifetime. I hope my kids will feel the same when I'm gone.

*smooches...very aware of everything all of a sudden*
and so looking forward to going "home" next month