Food-spoiled: When Only Mami’s Cooking Will Do

I'm just food-spoiled (iStockphoto)I'm just food-spoiled (iStockphoto)When Latinos (and non-Latinos) are hungry, we fall into one of two categories. Find out if you're as "spoiled" as I am.

It's five o'clock, and I'm leaving work. I'm cranky, hungry and tired. The good news: I'm a single woman with no husband or children, so I don't have to get home to fix rice and beans. The bad news: I'm a single woman with no one at home to fix me rice and beans. I want my mami!

This dilemma is what gives basis to my daily dinner conundrum. We all encounter a what-am-I-going-to-eat moment at the intersection of "I'm way hungry" and "Who's going to cook?" How we determine the solution defines what kind of eater we are. Some people are food-responsible: they cook their dinner, eat fruits and veggies and avoid carbs. Basically, they don't do what I do: use food for enjoyment, to soothe their emotions or to keep that feeling of being at home when mamá cooked. In other words, they are not how I would describe myself- food spoiled.

Define it

I've arrived at the conclusion that food-spoiled people have to admit to at least one of the following symptoms:

• When we get hungry we know specifically what we want to eat, and we HAVE to have it.
• It has to be "it" or find a suitable substitution, and usually the substitution is NEVER suitable.
• We remain frustrated through dinner because we won't cook what we want, either. We need to have someone else cook for us. Ideally, that would be mami or abuela.
• When no one's there to fix what we absolutely have to have for dinner, we end up lining up at the drive-thru, headlights hanging down in shameful frustration, and ordering a greasy burger or burrito.

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So what is a malcriada like me to do? I hate to admit it, but it's all about planning, paying for convenience and sometimes a family visit.

PLANNING: If you don't want to cook every day but need to have rice and beans, for example, make a big batch on Sunday. Then, eat some, pack the rest and freeze. You can do the same with most meat and chicken dishes. Pack them in small portions, and pull them out of the freezer on your way to work. This will help when you need to have something calientito (or warm) to eat without a big wait.

CONVENIENCE: I live off bagged salads, cut up fruit and frozen grilled chicken strips. Yes, you pay more, but the payoff of having something tasty and healthy for dinner is well worth it. I suggest buying for one day, and use the rest within the next 24 hours. It will probably make you go to the store every other day, but that's the price you pay for convenience.

GO HOME! Once in a while, go visit your family and have dinner with them. It's not just an opportunity to be comforted by your favorite foods, but it's also about gathering and spending time loving on each other around the table.

And like my abuela used to say, ¡Eso es así!

Are you food-spoiled or food-responsible? Share your side of the story.

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