Being an Afro-Dominican has been a really interesting experience for me. I’ve always felt like I didn’t quite fit in. Being chocolate skinned and having curly/kinky hair seemed to mean that I couldn’t possibly be Dominican or possibly know how to speak Spanish…in some people’s eyes. It was so strange. I remember having discussions and damn near arguments with strangers on the street who could not believe that I was Hispanic. I mean come on!! I would have to speak to them in Spanish before they would believe me.
In some instances, ( I must say) it was a bit of an advantage. I used it like a secret weapon. If I heard someone saying something nasty or mean about me or someone I was with I would stand by and listen and then drop the bomb on them when they least expected it. Shame on them for assuming!!!! Dominican’s come in all shades of colors.
It wasn’t only strangers that made me feel alienated. I felt it in my family as well. Not SO much in my immediate family but more so in my extended family and more so in my older relatives. Because I was such a shy child to begin with ( and that’s a whole other story) I really didn’t let on that I knew how to speak Spanish as well as I do to most people in my family. It wasn’t really until I was an adult that people heard me speak it and were surprised I spoke it as well as I did. As a kid I always felt self conscience about speaking it and afraid that I would say something the wrong way or not sound fluid enough or forget a word for something.
So, why Lake’s Beans you may be wondering? Well, being that I was a ballerina in training in those days ( oh, did you forget that part? ) I was a VERY busy child and teen. I was in the dance studio after school from 4-9 and all day Saturday and sometimes Sunday too. My mom didn’t have an opportunity to teach me how to cook. I didn’t have too many chores around the house either because my mother knew how hard I was working at ballet and didn’t want to add to it.
Rice and beans are a staple of Dominicans. We eat it everyday and that’s pretty much a given. In the back of my mind I always felt that if I could just learn how to make delicious rice and beans that would authenticate me somehow and make me a legitimate Dominican. In the eyes of my family as well as the eyes of others.
I began to ask questions and formulate the perfect recipe based on what my mom and papi do. It’s taken me several years of tweaking to get it to the point of my satisfaction but I feel like I’m finally able to make delicious rice and beans! Rice and beans that I wouldn’t be ashamed or afraid to feed to any Dominican. Rice and beans that I could stand behind and feel good about.
Welcome to Lake’s Beans. I hope you enjoy my rantings enough to check in with me on the regular. I will be writing about things that are happening, have happened, or I hope to happen in my life. ~Thanks for reading~