Writing By Tiana Acosta ’17. Art By Maheen Syed ’19.


1 large yellow onion

3 red and green bell peppers

3 medium heads of garlic

1 bunch of cilantro

1 punch of parsley

Chop all ingredients and blend together till a paste is made.


This is a recipe that reminds me of home, mostly because it reminds me of my all time favorite dishes: carne gisa, arroz con gandules, my grandma’s meatloaf, and the carne molida my mom puts in her spaghetti. This is a recipe that has been handed down through the generations, and a recipe that is a right of passage for any homemaker in our family. This is this recipe that begins my family story, as my family story begins and ends at home.

To set the stage: both my grandparents immigrated from Puerto Rico to the states when they were in their teens; Mami when she was 13 with her dreams of becoming a nurse, Papi when he was 18 with his dreams of pursuing boxing in NYC, Abuela and Abuelo during their twenties with the promise that “America would be better.” All of these lives, converging to the beginning of my story.

By the time my sister and I came into the picture, Mami and Papi had moved to a white house, situated at 1231 Vice Avenue, Bronx, NY. There were concrete steps out front, a chain-link fence covering half the house, and forgotten debris in the back yard. But at the top of those steps was a porch were my sister and I actually tried to fry an egg one summer, and behind that chain-link fence was a garden Mami had planted with the most beautiful rose bushes, and under that forgotten debris I found my childhood friend, Max, a white-socked, lazy, grey cat. This is the home where Mami made carne gisa and arroz con gandules.

Then my parents moved to New Jersey. My mom, dad, sister and I all lived in an apartment at 2017 Hudson Terrance Apt 4C, Fort Lee, NJ. There was a grossly off-white lobby on the first floor, a space between the elevator and the elevator shaft that I purposely avoided every time I stepped on, and a kitchen with room for only a small, rectangular table and a dining chair. But that lobby was where my sister an I slid across in our Tae Kwan Do uniforms when we got our green belts, and that elevator is where I purposefully dropped my sister’s GameBoy Color Pokemon Silver game when she threatened not to share, and that one dining chair is where I would kneel when my mom and I baked cakes and cookies in the kitchen. This is the home where Mom made carne gisa and arroz con gandules.

Then Emma came along, and we moved to 832 Broad Street, Teaneck, NJ. The attic is really small, my sister and I still share a room, and even though there are three switches in our bathroom, only one of them works. But the attic is where I store my college stuff as I’m the first in our family to be dorming, let alone getting a degree, and in our shared room is where my sister and I get to catch up, still fighting each other for the blanket, and the bathroom is where my dog took his first bath, because we now have a backyard for a dog to play in. This is the home where Mami made her meatloaf, Mom made her carne molida for her spaghetti, and I finally learned what ingredients were in the mysterious sofrito recipe.