Category Archives: Latinos

The wife: Adventures in Ethnoculinary delights

One of my great joys in life is mocking my wife’s primitive ways in the kitchen. We live minutes away from several cooking stores that sell the latest in kitchen gadgetry, but no!, my wife is content, even joyful at the prospect of grinding pepper in late grandmother’s molcajete when she needs it.

I don’t have the patience for this anthropological field work. When I’m hungry, I grab and go. If there’s no pepper, I do without. Who am I kidding? I go to Noah’s on most mornings.

My wife’s a fabulous cook but I can’t help but mock her ethnic ways. We listen to too much NPR and drink too much coffee in our house, so in the morning, I walk around the kitchen and pretend I’m a field reporter in some remote Mexican village.

High in the mountains of central Mexico, Xochitl rises early in the morning to grind the fiery pepper that will season her family’s food, as her ancestors have done for centuries.

I never realized how Americanized my upbringing was until I married my wife. She cringes when I tell her I never knew tacos were actually made with finely chopped, seasoned meet cooked on a grill, not ground beef. Which goes to show you how sheltered my upbringing was in Salinas, or how underground authentic Mexican cuisine was in those days. These days, you can’t walk 100 feet, it would seem, without running into a neighborhood taqueria.


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Filed under home life, humor, Latinos

Cultural quiz time: What is this?


Is the object in the above photo a:

  1. Potato masher
  2. Bean masher
  3. An international incident during the holidays
  4. All of the above
  5. Rear turn signal cover from a ’53 Packard.

I’ll discuss the answers along with my own observations later this week.

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Filed under cultural literacy, humor, Latinos

From the Pew Forum: Hispanic Churches Add English Services

Editor’s note: the link for the full story is no longer active. Newsvine has the article, which you may access here.

This little gem arrived Aug. 28 from my Pew Forum feed. It deals with a lot of topics found in my congregation. As we grow and take on more English-speaking members, we are learning how to communicate to a broader audience.

Our congregation is roughly 55 years old and started an English-language service four (?) years ago. It’s going well enough but the attendance is still far below the 12 p.m. Spanish-language service. There are many in our church who are perfectly fluent in English but who prefer the Spanish service for its “fervency.” The songs have more of a salsa beat, there’s a bigger crowd and the people seem to get into it more than at the 9:30 a.m. English service.

By comparison, the English service music is more staid, with choruses that repeat a lot — although this is changing. We seem to be singing older songs; by older, I mean gospel music of the 1970s. A lot of Andrae Crouch and others of his type.

I’m not sure how we crack the code on worship during the English service. It seems like the pastor has to prime the pump quite a bit more during the English service. What does one do? I’m committed to making the English service not only work but grow by leaps and bounds. We seem to have hit a temporary plateau. Any growth minded people have any ideas on how to work past this without sacrificing the spiritual health of those already in fellowship?

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Filed under Christianity, Hispanics, Latinos, Pentecostalism


The missus is at work educating the not-so-little fifth-graders while I sip an insanely powerful cup of coffee from my Stars & Stripes staffer mug. This coffee is no joke. Even now, I can feel myself recovering from a 7-hour drive Sunday from the in-law’s house in San Bernardino.

Under normal circumstances, it’s a 6-hour drive. We diverted from the plan and stopped at the heavenly Porto’s Bakery in Glendale, near Pasadena. It started as a home business for the Porto’s in Manzanillo, Cuba and continued after they immigrated to the United States.

The upscale business in the heart of Glendale bears little resemblance to the humbler storefront locations, but the charm of a family run Latino business remains.

Porto’s is a 90-minute investment of one’s time. First-timers like ourselves are often completely unprepared for the hoards of people jockeying for position in front of a wraparound glass case filled to capacity with cakes and pastries, many of which are new to most Americans. Continue reading

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Flotsam and Jetsam

A few unresolved thoughts from Monday, as I sit at the kitchen table and feast on avena (as it was known in my house as a child), toast with jam and organic coffee:

  • I suppose I’m such an outspoken critic of injustice because I watched my mother practice this principle for all of my life. My brothers and I used to joke that she had a habit of “collecting” people, the way a person collects stamps or antiques. Rare was the Sunday she went to church without a bag of clothes or books for a family less fortunate than ours. Continue reading

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Filed under God, Greek, Latinos

Protected: Pew Forum: Changing Faiths: Latinos and the Transformation of American Religion

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Filed under immigration, Latinos, politics, Religion