I love to cook. To be completely honest, I love eating more than I love cooking. That is the true reason why I cook. I enjoy eating new foods and coming up with new and simpler ways to make an awesome dish. And for a little while, I’ve been kind of obsessed with baking, adding to my food love insanity.
Back in the Dominican Republic, it’s a custom that girls learn to cook well at a very young age. My mom learned to cook when she was 6 years old. Then, upon her fell the duty of helping her mother cook three daily meals for a family of 10. That was not my case. I was a spoiled child. The only daughter of a single mother, raised to be a hard-working independent woman, who did not need to spend her time learning to do a shore that would turn her into the cooking servant of the man she’d marry. It sounds awful, I know. But my mother came from a very remote town in the island and grew up in a time in which women were raised to marry the man her fathers picked for them, have children and dedicate their full lives to the care of the home. The problem with this picture was that my mom was a rebel child. As a rebel, she did always the exact opposite of what was expected of her. She was the first in her family to move to the big city by herself, marry the man she wanted and worked to help support her entire family. She wanted bigger and better things for herself and for me. That is the sole reason we ended up coming to the U.S.
So, you see. I grew up never giving a lot of importance to actually learning to cook myself. There was always somebody else who did that for me and when there wasn’t anybody, there was always take out.
Until… I got married. In the beginning, my husband and I would eat a lot of take out. Thankfully, we lived in a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood with a lot of restaurants around that cooked the food we were used to eating, so he didn’t mind much, or maybe, it was love. Who knows? LOL.
Then, I became pregnant with my daughter and suddenly, I was craving homemade meals again. I didn’t have anyone to cook for me anymore so I had to learn.
I learned to cook because I love to eat.
Slowly but surely, I fell in love with cooking and because learning to cook was my choice I don’t really see it as a shore like my mother does. I see it more as an art, an expression of love, happiness and joy.
Of course, there are times in which you don’t really feel like doing it and on those days it does turn into something you do because you have to. After all, I do have a family to feed. But on most days, when I can make a nice meal, snack or dessert that my family can really enjoy, I feel happy. I am not naturally creative, but with food I can be and I love that.
For this post, I want to share this quick, easy and absolutely delicious cornmeal fritters recipe. One of the very first things I learn to cook. Cornmeal fritters were a staple at my house back in the Dominican Republic, at least in my house. When I came to live to New York, I was always craving it. Luckily, there was a wonderful lady working at the ‘bodega’ by the corner of my house in Brooklyn who made a delicious cornmeal fritter. I bought one almost everyday and sometimes I felt that she kept making them on a daily bases just for me. 🙂
Now, I’m all grown up and living in a predominantly Jewish suburban town in Long Island. This only means that I’ve had to learn to cook the foods we like to eat, but also that I get to learn about other cultures and what they eat, something I’m really interested on. Best of all is that I live in New York, where there’s food diversity to spare!
These crunchy, semi-sweet cornmeal fritters are great to have as an afternoon snack. I usually eat mine with coffee, but you can have yours however you like.
What would you have yours with?
Cornmeal Fritters (Arepitas de Maiz)
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 teaspoon anise seed
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons sugar (optional)
- 1 1/2 cup frying oil
- In a medium bowl combine corn flour, egg and butter using a spoon. Add salt to warm water and mix in with corn flour. Put in the anise seed and finally add the sugar. Make sure the mix is well combined.
- Add oil to a small frying pan and place on the stove at medium heat. When the oil is hot put tablespoons of the mixture into the oil. Fry each side for about 2-3 minutes or until they turn to a golden color.