One of the most interesting and unique values of our department is the diversity of the people who are part of it. We come from so many different backgrounds and cultures. That is why I think this blog is a great way to learn more about who we work with by learning about their cultures and traditions. Food, language, and culture are each a wonderful way to get to know our colleagues. I would like to share with you a part of who I am and where I come from through my culinary traditions.
My name is Ximena Yepes, I have been a Spanish Interpreter for UMHS Interpreter Services for 2 years, and I am from Bogota, Colombia. I am also a publicist and photographer, but when I arrived in the United States, I decided to explore my interest to help others, and found a great way to do so by joining Interpreter Services. My family is in Bogota and I try to return to visit them as often as possible.
During my trips to visit my family in Bogota, one of the things I enjoy the most is tasting those foods that take me back to my childhood, remind me of my mother and my “abuelita” (grandmother), and road trips to amazing places with my cousins and friends…it is these memories with family and friends that make each of us who we are today.
Flavors of January 3, 2013 – 2:00pm
Today, we enjoyed the company of family and friends around a traditional Colombian “asado” (barbecue). The main components of a Colombian asado are beef of course, corn (our corn is very different from the American one, the kernel is bigger, firmer, and less sweet), avocado, chorizo (Colombian sausage), potatoes, and arepa (a Colombian bread, basically a flat tortilla made with white corn, that accompanies a lot of our dishes, and is typically served with breakfast). We enjoyed a relaxing afternoon filled with wonderful conversation and a beautiful sunset. We also listened to bolero music – a genre of slow-tempo Latin music usually accompanied with dancing. One of my favorite Bolero groups is Buenavista Social Club; here is their website if anyone is interested in listening to some great music.
Flavors of January 5, 2013 – 4:00pm
Here we are in Tabio, a little town close to Bogota. Some family friends own a beautiful country house close to the Juaica Mountain. I like to call it the magic mountain because of its’ unique shape and location and also because it is the origin of countless legends and mysteries from time immemorial. One of them refers to “el Juaico” a legendary creature that appears at night to protect the treasures hidden inside the mountain.
We had “onces” which is a small meal served in the late afternoon/early evening. The onces are traditionally served with a hot cup of excellent Colombian coffee. The best conditions for coffee production are in between 1.200 and 1.800 meters over sea level. In Colombia the coffee crops are located on the mountainsides of the Andes.
Our wonderful hostess, whose last name, Montaña, means mountain in Spanish (interesting coincidence!), gave us a homemade prune cake with wild strawberries and “pan de arroz.” Pan de arroz (rice bread) is a crunchy and savory pastry.
Flavors of January 6, 2013 – 6:00pm
Today is “Dia de Reyes” (Wise Men’s Day). This festivity closes the holiday season, and celebrates the visit of the Three Wise Men. Today we prepared “Buñuelos y Rosquillas,” traditional savory pastries done with cassava flour and cheese, which are fried and served with a variety of fruit preserves. For me this is how the holidays taste, and the smells take me directly to my childhood. This recipe was given by my grandmother to my mom, and I hope to continue to keep the tradition.
Flavors of January 13, 2013 – 7:00pm
We end our journey with a “carajillo” (drink made by combining coffee with rum) around a bonfire hoping we can be together again soon….
–All photos are the property of Ximena Erickson.