Food and the World – Chiles en Nogada – Migration, Food, Ritual, Family – Itzayan Rocha. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports
Chiles en Nogada have been my favorite dish for as long as I can remember. I do not remember a time when it wasn’t a special dish in our family, and honestly I don’t want to because it was probably a very tasteless time in my life. All jokes aside, my dad, the cook in our family, was the one who introduced Chiles en Nogada to me, and he basically changed my life when he did. I don’t quite remember the first time he prepared this meal for my mom and me, but it must have been a day of celebration. My best guess is that it was during either Thanksgiving, or Christmas because that is when we would have had the time to make elaborate dishes like this. Chiles en Nogada means so much to us not only because of how good it is, but also because it carries within its flavors a lot of stories. Stories that vary from history, tradition, personal anecdotes, and even people’s struggles. Having said that, this dish carries within itself our own family’s history, traditions, anecdotes, and struggles. It is a part of who we are, where we come from, and where we are going.
One of my first memories with Chiles en Nogada was during Christmas Eve. In Mexico, most of the celebration for Christmas occurs during Christmas Eve. We prepare the whole day for the last Posada in which baby Jesus will be born and placed in the nativity scene set up at our households. Alongside this preparation comes the food prep for the big meal that is shared within the family after the celebration. The first and only time I was a part of a Posada I was five years old. I don’t quite remember it, but when my parents migrated to the United States they brought a version of this important ritual with them, which is what we now do during the Christmas season. We also spend the whole day prepping food for our family dinner, and most years that meal prep involves the making of Chiles en Nogada. At night, after we’ve completed our closest version to a posada that we can recreate here in the U.S, my parents and I set the table to eat. We place the dish on the table, pray/give thanks, and begin to enjoy our meal. Our small prayer usually becomes emotional because we express our gratitude. The gratitude that we feel towards the food that we are about to consume, gratitude towards having each other in our lives, and gratitude towards the love that we see expressed in the world on a daily basis. Sharing this meal is like expressing love in food form, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
From Professor Liang’s Fall 2019 Politics of Globalization class, Itzayan is a Communications student.
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