Stereotyping Latin Americans + notations regarding my skinny ass

Mm. Cheeeeeese.
Mm. Cheeeeeese.

Today a necessity of errands brought me to Elizabeth NJ, which has a very dense and varied population of Latin peoples. There are Puerto Ricans of course, but more and more, you are beginning to see larger populations of Chileans, Argentinians, Cubanos and others. Signs here are written in Spanish, Spanish in a variety of accents can be heard on the streets and music plays that is...blessedly...not a frontal assault of some rap or hip hop travesty, but pretty music, spicy quick and delicate music that I'm almost afraid to immediately classify as salsa. These are cultural sights and sounds which will, in turn, flavour America further the way we Irish did way back when (Why do you think Lager and Leprechauns are so popular? It wasn't the Sioux Indians, I assure you.)

yes. I'm not above using T&A to sell my blog. Eventually you may even see MY rack here.
yes. I'm not above using T&A to sell my blog. Eventually you may even see MY rack here.

Like most heavily immigrant populations (The Irish, way back when, included) Elizabeth is not without it's problems. There is crime, yes, and the drop out rate needs to be addressed, true. There's too much graphitti. (Clean that shite up, people!) This aside, I don't understand the occasional laments I hear from some older American Gringos I know: “I remember when Elizabeth was white.” It saddens them that it is more mocha now, evidenced especially in the long tan legs and slender olive midriffs (not unlike my own, but a bit darker) that sway down summer side-walks, and perhaps in the smiling, laughing, exuberant armies of children who occasionally unbalance you as they flow past...like being caught in a quick flurry of somewhat larger and mildly clumsy butterflies.

I am that “Girl-Who-Forgets-To-Eat,” the one you don't believe really exists, but hullo there nice to meet you. By the time my errands are finished, I'm starving and looking for a place to quickly grab a bite. Elizabeth is filled with South and Central American restaurants now, the aromas walking down the boulevards can be maddening (and it is a long walk....Elizabeth is crowded, the parking sucks arse, you must take what you can find and hoof it the rest of the way.)

I chose a place at random and it looked like it was once your classic American greasy spoon. It had that counter built into the floor, the kind lined with bolted down vinyl covered stools that are coloured “insane asylum green.” Behind this, a modest grill and an immaculately clean preparing surface for cutting bread, built in pans for ingredients, a giant metal lid that snaps down on the entire thing. A husband and wife team worked behind the counter. She took orders while he prepared the food.

Immediately upon seeing me, she commented on my skinny ass (literally my skinny ass, telling me boys like a healthier sized ass....although apart from Dave, negative input about my bottom is rare) and she began to lecture me in broken English about Bulimia. (I am NOT Bulimic. But this appealed to my sense of humour too much for me to feel offended.) I ordered a vegetable Quesadilla, and watched her eyes widen in horror as I explained that I don't eat meat. “No como carne,” stammered the odd alien white girl with the skinny ass. I liked her conversation, feeling at ease when normally I just glare at overly familiar people until they stop talking. (Sometimes when people think I'm an Arab, I like to pretend I don't know English.)

Her husband fascinated me. Latin people, you see, are Gods in the kitchen. Call it a stereotype, whatever. Feel free to claim I am racially profiling the Latin Cook. They....just...are. These people can do things with a pepper and some cilantro that aren't humanly possibly for anyone else. His movements on the grill were quick, precise, and performed with the practised ease of a hibachi chef. You can tell when you are watching someone in love with their profession, and this little man in his later fifties....LOVED....making me my quesadilla. There was nothing haphazard in it, nothing bored, nothing even remotely like watching someone throw your bloody sandwich together in subway. This man was masterful. And the quesadilla was holy-shite-can-I-make-love-to this-thing-cheesy-melty-good. Some kind of Salsa that I didn't recognise came with it, and a wad of sour cream. (Seriously....if you want to be my friend, just throw some salsa at me and we'll bond for life.)

It was amazing. Made by a man who gave a damn about what he was doing, brought to me by a woman who made me welcome in her domain (even if she did critique my bum,) eaten in ecstasy in a quiet little corner, as if I were a lioness who had dragged her kill behind some brush for privacy.

White people. Hear my words. I realise these little ethnic areas scare you (and let's be real, some spots are nicer than others) but it hasn't stopped being “your” town. It's not the place where you keep the Latinos fenced in. By not coming to these places, you are missing out on incredible foods. You are missing out on beautiful girls. You are missing out on great music. These weird imaginary barriers we put up around ourselves needn't exist at all when there's just so much to be found if you get up and go looking for it. Diversify yourselves. Try an empanada with that tangy green cilantro stuff on it and flirt heavily with the Brazilians. Good things happen when you mix with Spaniards, in fact I wouldn't have been born otherwise.

It's still your America, and trust me. It tastes glorious. It is rewarding to get out of your comfort zone, especially when it comes to food and romance!

Buen provecho!

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Comments 33 comments

Acid Rahne profile image

Acid Rahne 6 years ago Author

Todd. They also sold something called a "Texas Weiner." I was going to ask if you had one, but the lewd jokes would have been far too easy.

(I believe a lewd joke is something you should have to work for.)


Rex 6 years ago

Rahne, I didn't know you could write so well. I was sitting there eating that Quesadilla right along with you cracking jokes about your skinny ass. (g)

That was well-writen and I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Rex


Faust profile image

Faust 6 years ago from Colorado Springs, CO

You've hit a couple of the reasons I would make an awful racist; beautiful women (from any number of different backgrounds) and incredible cuisines. I am particularly fond of where cultures overlap--hybrid vigor, if you want to view it in biological terms. Some of the most beautiful women in the world have ancestry from more than one continent, and some of the best cuisines in the world result from the influences of more than one culture.

Bueno!


Brava-new-sindhu 6 years ago

I almost felt like you were writing a food review for some newspaper or sum such. Bien. Of course, we are waiting for your next big idea. But little things are fun to read about too.


Easy_as_ABC profile image

Easy_as_ABC 6 years ago

más quesadillas, por favor.


Lorenzo C 6 years ago

Being Chilean (my only valid passport currently) and Mexican in Heritage, with much Spanish background (and family there) the world seems small.

I make empanadas, and a variety of ot her dishes. My Mexican Grandma (her name was "Luz") made quesadillas for us, tamales, and varied "frijoles" that were to lick your lips constantly. She also made "tostadas" for us, I get them easily around here.

As for Spain, have you ever made a "paella"? There are vegetarian paellas, since there are vegetarians in Spain.

See this site:

"http://www.spain-recipes.com/vegetarian-paella.htm..."

Some people don't care for cilantro, I love it, then again I love raw jalapenos too.

Have you ever been to "Calle Ocho" in Miami? That area is also a riot of Latin character.

As for dance and music, well, it is bred into the blood into blood depending where you come from. When I lived at FSU, there were some excellent Latin parties...the experiences possibly changed my life.

Hasta la proxima bella,

~ L


Luminous Musings profile image

Luminous Musings 6 years ago

Wow Rahne--this is so beautifully and sensuously written. The language flowed like honey laden with energy and spirit. And the detail and descriptions were so vivid and animated--I truly was experiencing the moment through your eyes. I loved it!!!


*©* 6 years ago

Estubiste en mi parte del estado? Muy bien escrito, i yo no tengo miedo vivir en Elizabe (como lo llama los nitivos) Todo que escribite es verdad pero no agas nada de hesasas cosas cundo llega la noche porque a i es donde los problemas empiensan. Elizabe no es nada en comparado al resto del mundo... ; )))) I could translate but I'm sure someone else could do it..... glad you enjoyed the sights, sounds flavors and smells of in my neck of the woods.... Heh heh heh!


Lorenzo C 6 years ago

@--->*©*

I have taught University Spanish part-time for many years (18), SO I won't correct anything out of respect, but in friendly gesture, you need some reviewing of grammar and spelling... ;o)

I am also a simultaneous translator for formal meetings, but you'll have to pay me for doing it. Just kidding.

~ L


Paulette 6 years ago

This was hilarious. And is in a similar vein as a topic my parents and I were just discussing over lunch today: that growing up "ethnic" (in my father's case, only eating Puerto Rican food) you miss out on a lot of wonderful flavors and ideas from all over the world. I'm making him Moroccan lamb for dinner, to make up for his underprivileged childhood.


*©* 6 years ago

LC--- Just winging it no translator obviously huh? one of the few languages I use I knew someone would respond and thank you for your dedication to teaching there's no need for respect I don't bruise easy ... ; )))) You teach Castillano correct? in Elizabe it is SpanGlish.... : } p.s. I'm jet lagged as %$@*&....


*©* 6 years ago

@@@ Paulette-----Mmmmm Moroccan Lamb!! Good stuff please hold the raisins for mine... ; ))


Lorenzo C 6 years ago

You describe an element of the depth of heart of Spanish and Latin, but if your want to fathom the beauty and depth of heart in Spanish speakers? It is also kept in the treasure of Poetry...

This Spanish poem was really a recent masterpiece, just a small bit of the magical power of Spanish language, and a great flic...

MAR ADENTRO

Mar adentro,

mar adentro.

Y en la ingravidez del fondo

donde se cumplen los sueños

se juntan dos voluntades

para cumplir un deseo.

Un beso enciende la vida

con un relámpago y un trueno

y en una metamorfosis

mi cuerpo no es ya mi cuerpo,

es como penetrar al centro del universo.

El abrazo más pueril

y el más puro de los besos

hasta vernos reducidos

en un único deseo.

Tu mirada y mi mirada

como un eco repitiendo, sin palabras

‘más adentro’, ‘más adentro’

hasta el más allá del todo

por la sangre y por los huesos.

Pero me despierto siempre

y siempre quiero estar muerto,

para seguir con mi boca

enredada en tus cabellos.

"http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ISqOKJMWEk"


Modern Primate 6 years ago

You should definitely wait for the cheese to cool before any love making.


Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

Wesman Todd Shaw 6 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

~Lulz~

When did you go veggie, Rahne? I believe that you forgot to tell me about this-and it chaps my Texas weiner!

Atlas Shrugged, again; do you recall the professor who, before leaving for "Atlantis," made the best burger's that Dagny ever tasted. . . .but it was because he loved his work.

I've learned to love cooking too-and almost every damn thing I cook is really "Mexican food." . . . .except for my beef, or sausage and veggie stew. . . .that taste like white folk grub-except that I usually throw some Pico in the mix!

I told you last year when I started getting to enjoy some El Salvadoran food. I don't know how to spell it, but a "puh-poo-sah" is a damn fine taco variation. If you see some place serving those-then damn sure try one.

. . .but THAT's IT! That's all I've seen down here in the Lone Star State-the "puh-poo-suh," and tons, and tons, and "oh my God!" TONS of Mexican food.

I'll make you some someday :-D


ROMANCER OF LIFE profile image

ROMANCER OF LIFE 6 years ago from Honolulu, Hawaii

Very well written! Excuted very nicely. Love it!


Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

Wesman Todd Shaw 6 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

You know, it's occurred to me that you yankee North Eastern folk might not be as snug with Latinos, Hispanics, or illegals as someone living in my neck of the woods.

Really, there's some good reasons to be scared of Hispanics that you do not know; SEVENTY-TWO people were just freakin' massacred not too long ago in Mexico. Mexico and even it's cities away from our border aren't always stable places to be. You also have to consider that these immigrants might have good reason to be just as frightened of any of the rest of us regardless of what we look like, etc, etc, etc. We have airplanes crashing into skyscrapers up there where y'all yankee folk live (LOL!!!!!!!!)

All I know is this: If you cross over from El Paso into Juarez-and a guy comes up to you with evidence that he's been huffing paint under his nose. . . when he asks you if you wanna see a "donkey show;" . . . .you really shouldn't go.


VaultBoy profile image

VaultBoy 6 years ago

Make...me...a quesadilla :P


attemptedhumour profile image

attemptedhumour 6 years ago from Australia

Sounds like my kind of place, you gave a nice vivid view of why that area deserves a visit. Melbourne is a multicultural city where the cuisine is incredibly diverse. I play Soccer and in our team we have Aussies English African Dutch Greek German and Scottish players. The local market near here is a melting pot of nations and a wonderful example of how the whole world could be if only we would be more tolerant. Cheers great hub


Acid Rahne profile image

Acid Rahne 6 years ago Author

Faust, I've got me own Hybrid vigour. My ancestors have managed to interbreed with Spaniards over and over again over the aeons. Sometimes, they were cousins. Siiiigh. The Irish. I have Spanish hair texture and skin complexion because of it. And I have this overpowering almost vampiric hunger for salsa. It's interesting to note that one of the things which usually puts an end to war....is sex. Rival tribes often interbreed until family structures are so close that they would be killing their own if they were to raise a hand to one another. Sex would have led to peace in the middle east had it not been for such strict religious doctrines against mating with outsiders :-(

And of course....food is steeped in culture. To loe another's food is to love another's culture as well :-D


Acid Rahne profile image

Acid Rahne 6 years ago Author

REX!!!! You can make fun of my skinny ass any time you want!!!!


Acid Rahne profile image

Acid Rahne 6 years ago Author

Luminious....I wish I had your gift of words. Your comments are often very special to me...and I'm glad that you grace my page and occasionally enjoy what you find here. Hopefully, I'm going to be brave enough to tackle a real topic soon. I have some ideas, but nothing solid yet. I would like to deal with social issues.


Acid Rahne profile image

Acid Rahne 6 years ago Author

Paulette, Romancer of Life, *©*

Thank you for stopping by!!!!


DSD profile image

DSD 6 years ago from Florida

Oh Rahne. Here we go again. But this is a topic I can hardly steer clear of. Yes, I suppose I could just click the little x at the top right corner of my screen and avoid the virutual bludgeoning that I am about to receive.

But why?

Dare I venture into commentary on a page about stereotyping of that which claims to be "Latin"?

These are topics that most assuredly raise at least a questions that I've been pondering. Will I be villified for asking the questions? Or will my questions be answered without prejudice?

By now at least a few people on your page are very aware of the pearly whiteness of my skinny skin skin. But I've sat on enough pillows in front of enough Buddhist meditation teachers with my eyes closed long enough to know that the mind itself does not have a color.

So here goes...

First of all, I would just like to get this off of my chest once and for all. I am happy that that stinking little Taco Bell doggie finally kicked the bucket. I have never been a fan of chihuahuahs. I had a girlfriend one time who made me come in to her house to meet her parents one time. She was of Irish American descent, but they had a pet chihuahua, and that little bugger sat there on the floor barking at me the whole time I was in there meeting the parents. When it was not barking it was running around the place like a nut job, with its creepy little chihuaha toe nails tapping on the linoleum. The dog didn't like me. I didn't like the dog, and the parents knew it. So they didn't like me. It was a disaster.

So I am happy that the Taco Bell doggie bit the dust.

That said, I have never hated hispanics because of the blasted ill will that I felt toward that stinking little doggie. As a matter of fact, I was more of a Chi Chi's fan than a Taco Bell fan.

But I must confess. The Mexicans can keep their food for the most part. I'd rather eat Spanish or Cuban cooking. I've lived down here in Tampa Bay for almost 15 years now. I've eaten all kinds of Cuban food, and at one time I worked in a department that had at least seven hispanic women in it. So the pot luck dinners were always a mouth watering potpourri of Spanish flavors.

Additionally, there is a 24x7 Cuban diner near my current workplace. I stop in there at least once a week. There is also a Cuban bakery that opens up bright and early at 4:30 am. We hit that place for Cuban toast and coffee at least once a week as well.

Having pointed out that I love Spanish food, I should remind those bothering to read this that my own family has retained just about NONE of our own heritage. Yeah...there are a few Pennsylvania Dutch recipes that have been handed down. But for the most part it has been lost. Probably because in my lifetime that which was Germanic or Dutch has been condemned and treated like the enemy by my American peers. While some of your readers bask in the glory of having relatives in Spain and other hispanic countries, I have none in the countries of my heritage because the countries of my heritage were bombed to smithereens at the end of WWI and WWII. Any relatives of my family were turned into our enemies and murdered so that the Jews could obtain their precious Israel and forge the path to their wonderful Zion.

But anyway, this blog is about that which claims to be "Latin".

So I must confess that I am perplexed by the whole "Latino" thing. I have met "Latino" people down here in Florida who look more like American Indians than anything related to something "Latin" out of Europe. My guess was always that they were descendants of slaves with very little actual Spanish heritage at all, other than having been forced to become Catholics, forced to speak the language of their conquerors, and forced to take Spanish names. So what is "Latin" about them?

Am I evil for asking that?

Because when I was growing up one of my mother's best friends was a Phillipino lady. I ate all kinds of Phillipino food growing up. And Phillipinos have Spanish last names as well, Rahne. They were also enslaved and conquered by the Spanish at one time. So they too were forced to take Spanish names as their women were raped by the Spanish soldiers. The only difference is that they were not forced to speak Spanish.

So, is that the difference between a Mexican and a Phillipino? The Mexican descendant of South Americans who were raped by Spanish soldiers is a "Latino" because he speaks Spanish; but the Phillipino descendant of Phillipinos who were raped by Spanish soldiers is not "Latino" because the Phillipino was not forced to speak Spanish?

That's a question that has popped into my "non-white" mind over and over again ever since I can remember?

What gives with this "Latino" thing?

It seems to me that it is the Italians who should be claiming to be "Latin", but what the F do I know about Italy anyway?

Hee Hee Hee.

Thanks for giving me the opportunity to ask these questions. I am sure somebody out there in Acid Rahne land will have a heartfelt answer or two for me.

Good day.

DSD


Acid Rahne profile image

Acid Rahne 6 years ago Author

DSD...

To be honest with you, I don't like chihuahuas much either. The only ones I've ever met tried to bite me, and I take that personally. I'm not saying there might not be better chihuahuas out there...I just haven't met them.

I also like Cuban food a lot (And portuguese)but I have a love of Mexican food particularly because I enjoy things that have melted cheese all over them. But as far as a people being “Latin” goes, I believe this is more of an American affectation than anything else, in much the same way the word “gun” doesn't really have anything to do with firearms. The word gun is derived from a Yiddish word meaning thief, over the due course of time, the title was transferred to the thief's favourite tool. The term Latin is probably just ascribed simply to people who speak a Romance language, or a language derived from Latin (although for some odd reason no one puts the French on this list) and I don't think genetic heritage has much to do with it at all. For instance, you don't have to have roots in America to participate fully in American culture....I don't think you need to have roots in Spain (or Rome for that matter) to participate in Latin culture. I've mentioned it multiple times in different places but I have family members in Spain, my genetic heritage is both Irish and European Spanish, but I don't speak Spanish (even though I'm good with a few other languages) so I have never called myself “Latin” whatsoever. My friends who are also from south America (Ecuador, but don't call them Latin, they are citizens here, ex marines, and ONLY want to be referred to as American) describe racial differences that North Americans don't really perceive...namely between themselves who are descendants from Indians who interbred with the Spanish and the Indians themselves, who often speak another language and who have (occasionally) darker skin and somewhat more native American looking facial features.

So your points about Race are valid in terms of who is genetically linked to the Roman Empire (which, to tell you the truth, they've found Chinese people who are descended from Roman garrisons so perhaps you can call the Chinese Latin as well) but I think it's really more a linguistic or cultural designation than anything else.

I mean, Spain once once controlled by Ancient Carthage....so perhaps my own roots are more Carthaginian than Latin???


Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

Wesman Todd Shaw 6 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

You just threw a nugget at me-I'd never, EVER heard the history of the word, "gun," as you've stated it. There are tons of Yiddish words that may, or may not be recognized by an American born person of any ethnicity.

I think it helps to have watched "Lavern and Shirlly," though


Lorenzo C 6 years ago

DSD,

You wrote a really excellent comment and a really provocative set of questions.

I am sort of a historian in South and Central American, and Mexico, and Spain. Perhaps I gain some creedence by stating that Chile, Bolivia, Peru and part of Mexico I traveled extensively and you are perceptive about the "latino" label used in the U.S.A..

One thing that happened to parts of South America and even Mexico is that they were never PURELY conquered by Spanish of the peninsula of old "Hispania" (the Old Spain) and many people had a mix of genes after a span of centuries.

So, many people in South America, Central America and parts of North America of Spanish speaking origin acquired a genuine "potpourri" of colors of skin, along with labels for ethnicity. If you explore the word "Criollo" or "Mestizo" or "Mulato, really you get different labels for SOCIAL STATUS and for Ethnic origin.

My genes are VERY mestizo even though I APPEAR more white than indigenous Mexican or Chilean. Once, long ago, I was Formally labeled "Hispanic" in the United States, then one year people from South and Central American origin, legally here in U.S. began saying that "Hispanic" was an inappropriate label, because THE SPANISH speaking ethnic people in the U.S. did not ORIGINATE from SPAIN, but from the Caribbean, South America, and Central America, and even North America.

Now, many Spanish Speakers in Argentina, Peru, Chile, Paraguay, even parts of Mexico, Costa Rica and parts of Bolivia, HAD TONS of immigrants from other language speakers that were of LATIN ROMANCE LANGUAGES (French, Italian, Romanian, Spain, Catalonia, Portugal Etc...)

What has become of the Spanish Speaking world in the Americas, and particularly in the U.S.A. is that THERE WAS NO single LABEL, to CATEGORIZE all these different ETHNICITIES and Spanish speaking nationalities into ONE LABEL.

That label "Latino" was a label of Spanish linguistic and cultural INFLUENCE among immigrants to the U.S.A, and sort of a LABEL GLUE, "Latino" WAS APPLIED to Spanish speakers to UNIFY all these people that (AS stated by DSD) had ORIGINAL influence from "HISPANIA" but no longer belonged to SPAIN.

A close woman friend and another 5 Spanish friends from Spain, living here in the U.S.A. legally who speak Spanish & English ARE LABELED formally as "Latino" for formally purposes, but they consider themselves Spanish.

Me, I am categorized as "Latino" formally, even if I have little Spanish accent when speaking English, and little English accent when speaking Spanish, my cultural roots are Mexican and Chilean, and U.S..

Spanish speakers from the Americas and Caribbean often are taught that SPAIN is "La Madre Patria..." which means "The Mother Country." Think about that, the conquerers actually unified South & Central and Mexico in various ways, even though diversity still exists IMMENSELY.

Lastly, Italy is not ALL of Latin origin, and when Roman Enpire extended over the centuries, they left forms of "VULGAR LATIN," and other languages integrated "Latin in to THEIR languages.

TODAY, the Romanian and Catalonian LANGUAGES are ACTUALLY closer in syntax and grammar, and vocabulary TO THE ORIGINAL "FORMAL Latin." Modern Italian was heavily affected by Etruscan ancestry in linguistics from what I understood 20 years ago.

So, Associating "Latin" purely to Italy can be misdirected, due to the fact that the "VULGAR LATIN" family of languages and Roman culture AFFECTED MANY other conquered territories by the ROMANS...

Take my points as a GRAIN OF SALT, to simply ponder, "Latino" unifies a VERY DIVERSE group of people who were partially unified culturally by Spanish...and many other European immigrants to the Americas...

Kindly,

~ L


Acid Rahne profile image

Acid Rahne 6 years ago Author

I am happy that I was thinking in the right direction :-)


Elefanza profile image

Elefanza 6 years ago from Somewhere in My Brain

Much enjoyed this hub! Being half Hispanic/Mexican, whenever I would go to visit my dad's fam, they would do food real proper with tortillas, chorizo and a few other dishes that just make one happy. I'm kind of biased in my love for Mexican food. Wonderful thing, to be able to eat without silverware. Life seems more liberated on a tortilla.

And I shall have to try an ethnic place sometime. Up where I'm at now, it's very monolithic in terms of diversity. :(


Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

Wesman Todd Shaw 5 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

Good times!!! I miss them good times! Want moar!


Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 5 years ago

Estupendo!


Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

Wesman Todd Shaw 4 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

I love you. I just Google'd "El Salvadoran taco"....trying to find the correct spelling of the thing....and I um...found you.


Acid Rahne profile image

Acid Rahne 4 years ago Author

Because when the world thinks of Tacos....the world thinks of ME.

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