My Hispanic cultural identity
My cultural identity is first and foremost Nicaraguan. Nicaraguans are very hospitable and have kind hearts – we are warm and welcoming people. My culture is rich with beautiful music, folklore, and cuisine for which I am immensely proud of and honored to be able to share during Hispanic Heritage Month.
The music of my country is beautiful, nostalgic and romantic. Luis Enrique Mejia is a Nicaraguan singer and songwriter. He is recognized as ‘El Principe de la Salsa’ or The Prince of Salsa. He is famous for his song ‘Yo No Sé Mañana’, which is a popular romantic salsa song. Other talented singers from Nicaragua are Katia Cardenal, Hernaldo Zúñiga and Carlos Mejia Godoy. Katia and her brother are part of the ‘Duo Guardabarranco’ – they are named after the national bird of Nicaragua. Their songs bring so many memories of Nicaragua to our people. They are so loved because they sing about our culture, geography and our country’s challenges. My favorite songs are ‘Dias de Amar’ (Days to Love), ‘Guerrero Del Amor’ (Warrior of Love), and ‘Casa Abierta’ (Open House).
We have many legends in Nicaragua, and we share some of them with Mexico as well as other neighboring countries and cultures in the region. We have ‘La Mocuana’, ‘El Cadejo’, ‘La Cegua’, ‘La Llorona’ and ‘La Carreta Nagua’ just to name a few. When we were kids, our parents and family used these stories to prevent us from staying out too late. They would say: ‘No volvas tarde a la casa o te va a llevar el Cadejo.’ It was a very effective technique.
What I miss most about living in Nicaragua is the unique food. I often have dreams of dishes I have not tasted in a while. Our food is so rich and diverse. Dishes can be as simple as our famous gallo pinto, which is the most amazing rice and beans, or the very difficult-to-make relleno navideño, which I’m sad to report requires magic Nicaraguan hands to make perfectly. Our food is a mixture of indigenous, Spanish and Creole recipes. Like many countries in Central America and Mexico, our main ingredient is corn.
Nicaragua has amazing food and desserts. My favorite desserts are buñuelos de yuca. They are sensational! Especially the ones you can buy at street stalls. Pio v which are so popular you can find them just about everywhere. Nicaraguan picos which is our typical pastry, manuelitas which is basically a crepe and cosa de horno. Cosa de Horno translates to oven thing, and it is delicious with an afternoon coffee! As I reflect on the sweets, treats and savory eats of my culture, more and more memories come to mind that I can help but keep adding to the list! Nicaraguans enjoy perrereque these are made of sweet corn and cheese as well as rosquillas which are, once again, cheese and corn but this time it’s a crunchy and salty flavor. There’s also the extremely addictive and glorious maduro en gloria, the sweet and salty yoltamal rellenos, and finally guirila con cuajada which is made of corn, but different from any tortilla you have ever eaten and accompanied with cheese and cream. As you can see, food is truly at the center of our hearts, our culture, and our tradition. I hope you pack an appetite if you visit my country!
What does Hispanic Heritage Month mean to me?
Having an opportunity to celebrate my roots and the uniqueness of our Hispanic history and culture is important to me. It means taking the time to really appreciate my country, our people and recognizing its beauty and richness. It also means taking the opportunity to share with friends and colleagues, learning from their culture as well as increasing my awareness of the diversity that exists in the US and within my company. Most importantly, it increases my sense of belonging knowing there’s space for me to share my culture, heritage and identity to a welcome reception.
Hispanic Heritage Month series
Read more interviews from our colleagues celebrating their Hispanic heritage here: