In my life, the real holy trinity is garlic, peppers, and onion.
I’ve learned that it is this way for many lost generation Venezuelans. Maybe, more than the quiet melancholia of Simon Diaz or finding yourself of Bolivar Ave in Paris, sofrito is the one thing that unites us.
If you’re Venezuelan your hair smells of sofrito and your house and pillow smell of sofrito and you don’t even know it. I recently moved into an apartment building and when my friends came to visit me for the first time, they told me that they just followed the familiar smell of my personal holy trinity down the hallway and found their way to me and my black beans and rice.
I have the sort of parents who hold food in the same reverence that others might hold religious idols. For this alone, I know that I am priveledged beyond measure.
We weren’t rich. My parents were undocumented immigrants for 15 years and with this came the struggles that so many families, undocumented or not, know well. My dad worked three jobs as a janitor, dish washer, and mechanic. My mom stayed at home with us to teach us, guide us, and decide what was best for our family.
For my parents, meals were sacred. Food was something to prioritize. It wasn’t something to scrimp on because that would cost too much. They would cut corners on toys or clothes or needless technology but absolutely never on food and absolutely never on books.
My parents understood that food is the foundation for a healthy body, something necessary for those who don’t have health insurance. My brother was soccer player. As an undocumented immigrant, he was selected to represent the United States in a match against Germany. He couldn’t leave the country to do so. My sister, born in the States, became a professional ballet dancer. An injury for them, beyond the spiritual pain of the possible end of a personal dream, would have been enough to bankrupt our immigrant family and put us in serious trouble. Our medicine, for body and soul, came in the form of olive oil, eggs, beans, vegetables, and sofrito.
What follows this short introduction is a dance with the most intimate of our relationships: our relationship with food. This volumes’s writers take us through memory, political strife and hard times. They take us through streets that we may never go to save for in our minds eye. We journey through many countries and many trips to the past and into the melancholic future. This collection is medicine. It is eye candy. It will make you hungry. It will make you hungry for change. It is introspective and damning. It looks for solutions to problems that few have had the heart to try. I applaud the contributors for opening their hearts and inviting us into their minds.
Dear Reader, it was a pleasure to collect these experiences for these pages. As always, I wish you health and happiness.
Michelle Assaad, Editor in Chief