Essence of Warm Love This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     The room was filled with the essence of warm love. I've always admired my grandmother's cooking skills. The scrumptious smell coming out of our two-story house filled the ghetto street of our block. I had a choice: to go outside and play with my best friend, Shante, or sit and watch my pleasantly plump grandmother cook with our Hispanic spices and seasonings while I tried to read the boxes, Sazon con Achote, Adobo or Recaito.

I figured I had all the time in the world to play with my friend, so I usually choose to stay with my grandmother. I have two grandmothers; this one was nicknamed Mima by my brother when he was just a little thing. Mima doesn't speak very much English, and I learned all my Spanish from trying to speak to her. I would sit on the cold, faded-yellow tile floor and mimic her every move. I would ask, "¿Que haces después, Mimita?" ("What do you do next?") She would explain what she was doing and I would say, "Mm hmm" in reply, as if I knew what she meant. The only way I did know was by watching her every move. If she were making arroz con habichelas (rice with beans), she'd have all her Goya products ready.

We bring all of our Latino flavor from Puerto Rico. If something was missing, Mima would send my Tia Minerva to the bodega and I would beg and plead to go with her, because this meant an appetizer before my fulfilling dinner ... Cheetos and red juice!

After all her efforts, Mima would leave the food on the stove and let everyone served him or herself. She was the woman of the house, not a servant. The food was dished up, tummies were filled, and I was content. The amazing taste of my culture's food filled my mouth. I still remember Mima's recipes and cook almost as well as she did. When I have my own family, I'm sure they'll appreciate this essence of warm love. c

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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