Welcome to my kitchen.
While traveling I've been called a lot of things. Some call me rubio, others gringo, others still gringo loco. I’ve been told I’m a latino born into a white man’s body, or that I'm white chocolate. The Mexicans say I have a Spanish accent, and the Spanish say I have a Mexican accent (I have no idea what I sound like). The Spanish think I'm French, the French think I'm German, and the German... well they think I'm German too. One family called me Daniel for six months before I was able to convince them that my name was actually Nathanael. A flight attendant once called me Neralamissio (I guess she thought I was Italian?), the baristas at Starbucks write my name on the cup as "Matt Daniel"... the list goes on and on.
Of all the times I've been christened over the years, the first name that was given me was el güero (pronounced [weh-dow] and alternatively written wero) which can be roughly translated as white guy or blondie. It's what they called me on the soccer fields behind the middle school where all the Mexican and Guatemalan guys played on Sunday afternoons. I was (and am) a terrible soccer player, but I went every week to practice my Spanish. I learned a lot of slang, swear words and bad grammar, but also that everything you're taught in the classroom is not enough to truly communicate with someone from another world. Language, culture, food, friendship, they are all tied together, all pieces of a puzzle we call community.
Wero became a familiar greeting to me, transitioning from the soccer field to the kitchen of the Mexican restaurant were I worked. The cooks were kind to me, a rare blessing in the fast paced kitchen and I functioned as a kind of living bridge between the two cultures, with the hinged kitchen door as the portal. Every morning I would step inside and hear the familiar chorus ¡Qué onda, wero! (What's up, blondie!) amidst the clanging of dishes, poor renditions of popular banda, and tales of love and loss (real or imagined).
This blog is about food, the friends who have shared their lives and culture through that food, and how both have now become part of my own life, and hopefully now yours. You will find recipes, reflections, travel stories, and of course a plethora of photographs. I hope you enjoy cooking and exploring with me. ¡Buen provecho!