People who came of age in the 90s might remember Lucy, the maid in Clueless, furiously yelling, “I not a Mexican!” at Cher (because Lucy was, in fact, “from El Salvador…a whole other country!”).* In the 14 years since Clueless was released, I have half-jokingly quoted that line more times than I can remember whenever I’ve felt a minor identity crisis coming on.
I know, I know. There is no monolithic standard for whatever constitutes “Mexican” or “Indian” or “Jewish,” or even “White.” None whatsoever. But try telling yourself that when you’re the only brown person in the room (besides security) at a Mountain Goats or Noah and the Whale concert.**
Today I had yet another one of those moments, this time over my Mexican food-cooking deficiencies. My family already knows I’m fairly hopeless at cooking rice. It wasn’t until a few weeks ago, when I happened to catch a small segment on Martha Stewart, that I learned how to properly cook plain old white rice. But that awesome rice my grandma makes will probably always elude me.
Today I decided I’d try making flautas and black beans (and by “making” black beans, I mean opening up a can and dumping them in a pan). Sounds fairly easy, right? Heat up the oil, roll up some cheese and mushrooms in a corn tortilla, and fry. My first flauta looked halfway decent, but then I took the oil off the burner because it looked like it was starting to get too hot, and I ended up spilling oil all over the other side of the stove. Long story short, my second flauta sucked and i just decided to fry the remaining cheese and dump it on top of the sad, soggy 2nd flauta:
Not completely unfortunate-looking, to be sure, but not an awesome plate of flautas, either. Sigh. It’s depressing because I’m really not a bad cook/baker. I can make awesome vegan cinnamon-apple muffins that will knock your socks off. I can make a mean pan of manicotti, or little scrumptious chocolate-zucchini bundt cakes. And chili? I am the queen of veggie chili. But the food of my people? *shakes head dejectedly*
Well, at least I know how to do it right next time…
*Yes, I have that movie memorized, okay? Now you can figure out my age!
**Both are awesome bands, btw. So dammit, I will not stop attending those concerts! You can either click on the links to listen, or right click and save the files to download.