Summer in Spanglish – Grilling Latino Style with My Familia...You’re Invited

Posted: Apr 21 2014

OMG it’s hot!!! (Are you hot too?) 
The East Coast is in the midst of a heat wave, and global warming has got us up to our necks in the 100 degree temperatures in a lot of the U.S. right now. It’s enough to make you duck the summer sun and retreat to the shadowy, air-conditioned comforts of a theater (ok – that’s my favorite retreat I admit – but hey if yours is the library – or your favorite pub – hey, I don’t judge…) While I take to the theater often in the hot summer months (as well as the cold winter months), summer is also a season best enjoyed outside, particularly in the form of outdoor family get-togethers. And well, in my family – it’s a get-together served up in Spanglish in my Spanish/English/American/Grilling/watermelon loving/brisket eating family…

(Your family probably also has a summer tradition ' if so I would love to hear about it! I’m just boring you with my family story right now :)

La Familia!
Ingredient numero uno: la familia.  
Calls ring out to everybody: sisters, brothers, moms, dads, aunts, cousins, friends, abuelitaabuelita’ssister, and the friend who lives next door just for good measure. Yeah, you get the idea.  Everyone’s invited (heck – if you’re reading this, you’re invited!) and everyone invited (yes you too!) is familia.

Ingredient numero dos: la comida.  
Everyone arrives with their contribution to the feast.  It’s a chance for the cooking-inclined to dazzle with their latest invention. In my family, Dad always works the grill – usually for BBQ brisket and chicken – and guards his finely-tuned marinades with higher security than required for top level Pentagon access.  Then there are the sides – the real culinary battlefield. This is wear the road meets the rubber. Or rather – the Tupperware meets the rubber… (ok – bad pun, yeah got it…)

Ready set go!!! 
Tupperware lids flip back, Saran Wrap and heavy aluminum foil unfurls to reveal the latest and greatest recipe inspirations culled from all manner of source material: Family Circle magazine, great grandma’s cookbook, the latest issue of Sunset, the last episode of Throwdown with Bobby Flay.  Veggie trays, Santa Fe Slaw, watermelon balls, potato salad, corn on the cob, ambrosia salad and the list goes on and on.  Like the party guest list, the menu expands to accommodate everything.  

Planned Chaos
When the group converges, chaos ensues.  Or so it would seem to the casual observer.  However, there is an order.  The older sisters eventually lay down the law, organizing the food, the gear and setting the cooking plan in motion.  The older uncles make sure they know where the cooler of beer is and get to work on setting up the piñata (if it’s a piñata-type of occasion).  Then, the serious business of the grill is undertaken.  As for all the little ones (which means anyone under 16 years old), well, they’re given a few ground rules like don’t get in the water, don’t talk to strangers, no fighting and take your sister along.  Otherwise, it’s a playground free-for-all. 

And Now the Answer to: What do Hispanics Talk About?
Ok, don’t tell anyone, but the women get to catch up and commiserate about the heat, the lack of help and the men.  And the guys don’t let the women into their convos (conversations) - they commiserate about the heat, the lack of help and the women.  And of course, last but not least - the kids groan about the ground rules and their stifling parents. 

Every year – it’s the same - we eat all we can fit on our sagging, overmatched paper plates and sit in haphazard groups at different picnic tables to devour the delicious comida and have a good time with la familia.

Is this a family tradition – just in my family – I don’t think so – cause the park benches are full everywhere. Do you have a summer tradition at the park with your family? In fact – maybe that’s you I see at the park! I mean - even now, on the hottest, muggiest of summer days when I drive by the park filled with families, kids running around, coolers piled haphazardly on park benches and tailgating chairs unfurled in a horsehoe formation, I smile because everybody is out there building their own memories!

What are your family summer stories? I know you{re out there at the park! What is your story?

Follow Liza Trevino  @GenX_TexMex


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