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Home » casa + cultura, food

Straddling the Cultural Fence

Submitted by on February 22, 2010 – 2:52 pm9 Comments

Because I’m a blogger (here at TikiTiki, at Babalú Blog and over at My big, fat, Cuban family) I get asked by advertisers to consider hawking their product. They know that Hispanics make up the largest growing segment of the population and it seems they are anxious to market to that demographic.

In my opinion, (I have no statistics, this is completely a personal opinion) the piece of the puzzle that they seem to be missing altogether is that although many of us are indeed of Hispanic descent, we also live and work and play and raise families much like our fully American neighbors. In fact, both my cohort, Carrie Ferguson-Weir and I, Marta Darby, sport very Anglo last names.

We are just as likely to cook up some Ropa Vieja for dinner, as we are to order a pizza from a local restaurant. (But, seriously, if you’re craving pizza, you should really try my recipe for a Homemade Cuban Pizza. I’m just sayin.’)

We carpool to play dates and soccer practices. We play salsa music in the car on the way there. In other words, we are “straddling the cultural fence.” =D

I’m currently enamored with Food Network cooking diva, Ingrid Hoffman of Simply Delicioso.  She has a wonderful cookbook with the same name. I enjoy her mostly because I feel like I can relate to her. A beautiful Columbian-American with a very Anglo name. She beautifully pulls together simple recipes with the familiar flavors of our  “cultural demographic.”

Because it’s Monday and I like to post recipes for you, here’s Ingrid’s recipe for Limón Chicken, (directly from the Food Network page) which is absolutely fabulous.

Limón Chicken

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts halves
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 pounds yellow onions, halved and sliced
  • 3 tablespoons yellow Peruvian chile or aji amarillo paste (or diced green chiles)
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, about 5 to 6 lemons
  1. Season both sides of the chicken liberally with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat the oil in a deep saucepan, add the chicken and sear on both sides until golden brown, about 2 minutes on each side.
  3. Remove the chicken and add the onions and garlic and cook at medium-low heat until the onions are golden brown, about 10 minutes.
  4. Season with salt and pepper, stir in the yellow chile and return the chicken to the pan.
  5. Spoon some of the onions over the chicken, cover and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, until chile sauce has completely infused the mixture and the chicken is cooked through.
  6. Add the lemon juice and cook another 10 minutes, to allow flavors to meld.

Serves 6.

Now that you have a recipe to enjoy, let’s get the TikiTiki started with these questions:

Do you live your lives straddling both cultures, as it were? Or do you tend to live a more “Americanized” lifestyle? Or, like Carrie and me, do you just have a very Anglo last name?

Tell me. I want to know.

Share, por favor!


  • Catherine says:

    For me, it goes either way. 50% of the time, I get asked if I’m Jewish. The other half of the time, strangers will speak to me in Spanish. I live in Miami, so when I am approached in Spanish, I assume it’s because they don’t speak English. My last name is somewhat vague, most people don’t pronounce it right.

    I am uber-American to my Latino friends and uber-Latino to my Anglo friends. I’ve given up on trying to define what side of the fence I’m on. On certain days when I’m asked if I’m Jewish I’ll tell people that I’m Jewban…

    I’m a first generation American in my family. Yet, I love American culture (don’t cringe) but I hold true to my Cuban-Central American roots.

  • Cubanita says:

    Humm, humm, humm… straddling the cultural fence, like when we leave pastelitos de guayaba – in lieu of the cookies – and a glass of milk for Santa?

  • Marta says:

    I (un-apologetically) love American culture, too. =D

    That’s EXACTLY what I mean! Love that.


  • Angela Garcia says:

    I know what you mean by having an Anglo name, having been born with the surname “McFarlane” in Santo Domingo. My family moved to the US when I was 8 months old, and we lived here until I graduated high school. Our house was full of merengue (the music, of course), and the reassuring sound of the pressure cooker hissing on the stove would greet me when I’d get home from school. Since Mom worked in my Dad’s pediatrics office, we’d always have a “muchacha” helping us out at home, sent by my abuela from Santo Domingo. My friends didn’t quite know what to make of our “maids”, so it goes without saying we were a bit of an oddity in our suburban Baltimore neighborhood. Yet with my irish-sounding last name, and pale skin, most of the kids at school thought I was American just like them, that is until they’d hear my Dad’s thick accent.
    Things got even more confusing for me when I moved back to the DR to go to “Universidad”. I never bothered to take Spanish in high school (why would I want to learn a language I already spoke, right?). Suddenly, I was a “gringa” who was incapable of reading a college textbook, longing to go back home to the States.
    Of course, I eventually finished school, and even met my “media naranja” Bill while I was there…my handsome cubano from Atlanta, who grew up with the name Guillermo in a town where everyone pronounced it “gorilla”. It was love at first sight!
    ps: We’re celebrating our 25th anniversary this year!

  • Carrie says:

    I don’t Straddle the Fence…I Am the Fence!
    ja, ja.

    I love these stories and it is why I love the Tiki Tiki…we’re not alone in our “what the hell am I?” question.

    But, you know what we are? Fun and Fabulous.
    .-= Carrie´s last blog ..Papi Plays =-.

  • Ana Lilian says:

    I am SO happy you wrote about Ingrid Hoffman because I consider a fan of her book, which I found in the library months ago. My husband was so excited about my inspired meals that he got me the book for Christmas! LOL.
    I do need to watch her show.
    My favorites are the Pollo Pendejo (not just because of the name!) and the Turkey Picadillo. Her Arroz con Pollo is also delish. OK..stop me here.
    OH, and you should follow her on FB because she’s really interactive and posts some great tips.

    Off to try to make her empanadas :p
    .-= Ana Lilian´s last blog ..Ask an Expert: What is the best for my child to succeed in speaking both languages? =-.

  • Michelle says:


    Im so happy I stumbled upon tikitikiblog! Im a proud Latina of Puerto Rican decent and definately have always felt I straddle the cultural fence. I was born & raised in NYC therefore always considered myself both Puerto Rican & American.

    I too have an Anglo last name through marriage but have a wonderful husband that appreciates both Puerto Rican cooking & culture. We even watch novelas on occasion and Im surprised how much he understands! It’s funny that this subject for me personally has been on my mind since we are expecting our first child this year. One thing that we have always discussed is how important it is to me that our children learn about both our cultures, which includes speaking Spanish. Thankfully I have a wonderfully supportive husband who said he better brush up on his Spanish before the baby speaks better than him :)


  • Sra. López says:

    I’m straddling the same fence, but I’ve climbed up on it from the opposite side. LOL.

    I have a very Spanish last name (López), but I’m an Anglo-American. I still do my Anglo-American thing, I can’t help it. I like peanut butter and jelly, I watch Seinfeld, I talk to our dog and other apparently weird white people stuff, (according to Suegra), but I’ve also adopted a lot of Latina-ways.

    I speak Spanish 50% of the time in my home, and listen to Spanish-language music most of the time, (Reggaeton, Salsa, Ranchera – I love it all.) Most of the dinners I make are Latin American dishes. While I read my kids traditional Anglo fairytales, I’ve also told them of Cipitio and La Llorona. (Which are much more useful for scaring them into behaving, by the way.)

    It’s strangely comforting to know that there are others out there like me and I’m not sitting on the fence solita :)
    .-= Sra. López´s last blog ..The 2010 Census and the race question =-.

  • Annie says:

    F.Y.I. Hoffman is not an Anglo surname it is either Jewish (as in Dustin Hoffman or German or both). Sorry Marta, but Ingrid Hoffman is a rip off-artist. She represents Miami as if she were the majority, and she is NOT. Why doesn’t she go to Vermont and represent them. She is American right? Miami8 is like a Chinatown. Cubans immigrated here and BUILT it from the gound up for the most part. A Jew wouldn’t move to Chinatown and claim culinary or other cultural representation like Ingrid has done. Because she is “latina” doesn’t make her Cuban. That chicken recipe you posted is the perfect example of this rip-off artist thing I speask of. It is a citrus, olive oil and onion based recipe, what could be more quintessentially Cuban.

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