Gathering around the table, with friends and family, is one of the most universal acts we share as humans. And it’s important to take the opportunity of sitting and eating to share about our lives with one another. Besides, how else do you get to try so many different foods? You can’t eat everything by yourself! And asking a member of your family to show you how to make a traditional dish from your culture is a wonderful way to spend time with them, and learn about where you’re from. This weekend, pastel loving designer and adventurer:
Sara of @hellosaratramp shows us how she stays connected to her roots in Guatemala, while living in L.A!
PHOTOS: KARA MCFARLANE
It’s been 15 years since I’ve visited my mother’s home country of Guatemala.
Still, some of my most vibrant childhood memories are from my times there. As I prepare to return, I’m just a little nervous about how much everything will have changed..I grew up speaking Spanish with my grandparents, visiting Guatemala yearly, and eating lots and lots of traditional food prepared daily by my beautiful grandmother – Mama Ana. I’ve grown up with this food, but it’s so fun to share it with those who haven’t. The best way to share your culture is through tasty traditions.
And you’re invited, as I take you shopping in LA, to help prepare for a typical Ligoria Fiesta!
Finding spots to buy the right ingredients is just as important as the recipes, but that isn’t hard in LA, which is vibrant with Hispanic culture.
It’s taken my grandma years to find all the different spots around town to pick-up her various ingredients.
Like all good family traditions, it starts with food. Basically, it’s the best bribe in the world. In my family all anyone one of us has to do is send a group text, “BBQ this Sunday?” and we know. It’s. About. To. Go. Down.
My grandma and my uncle Pete are two of the best cooks I know. Add my aunt’s specialty, super strong margaritas, and an iPhone blasting pop out of it’s tiny speakers and you’ve got a typical Ligorria family fiesta. There are certain foods that are key to Guatemalan cooking – tortillas, black beans, tomatoes, rice…things like right type of corn to make atole with can be hard to come by here. Since we each bring something different to the table I like to pick up what I can locally. The Farmers Market may not be the most ethnically diverse grocer, but it is the freshest.
In Guatemalan cooking, tomatoes are used in everything.
Every dish has some type of chilmol, salsa, or broth made from tomatoes. They add so much flavor and color to our food. Garlic and peppers too. My family loves their food spicy. Like, really really spicy. And can you believe that there was a point in my life when I didn’t love onions? I was a misguided youth. Now I can’t get enough of them.
Corn is delicious, and important in Guatemalan culture.
My favorite sweet drink, atol de elote, is made from corn. It’s like a sweet, creamy corn porridge you drink hot, topped with cinnamon. Guys, it’s really, really good.
Sitting down to eat, and actually talking to one another is a luxury not many of us allow ourselves anymore.
Our fast paced lives have us eating on the go, or while we’re catching up on late night emails in bed. As long as my abuelita is around (and we’re hoping that will be a long, long time) I plan to keep learning from her, and eating at her table. What is it that everyone says? Oh, “my grandma makes the best food,” and yea, she does. I especially love her stories about growing up, meeting my grandfather (who sadly passed away in January, but was kind of a total bad ass – he grew up in the jungles of Guatemala hunting jaguars), and brushing us up on all the family we were going to meet again in Guatemala. If there’s one thing I can say about Guatemalans it’s that they’re extremely warm and inviting, so I have no doubt we will be kept well fed while aboard.