Shantih Journal 3.1 - Page 65

I stopped thinking of my birthplace as a country and allowed it to become my identity. I’m not from Honduras, I’m Honduras. It is easy, and tempting, to disassociate. I need not to sit thousands of miles away, far from the night’s gunshots and hungry babies’ screams, to do so. I could stand right in the center of Tegucigalpa and believe myself to be far, very far, from the morning smell of coffee dancing in the air with that of death. Death. The smell of death inHonduras is not that of a rotting corpse. The smell of death in my city is that of routine, of triviality. Thus, it is a smell that stirs no one, that hurts no one, that moves no one. A much more powerful smell is that of the nacatamales, and I don’t say just because of all the starving facespressing against car windows at every stoplight. Nacatamales are more Honduran than the five stars in my flag. It is a smell every Honduran knows, every Honduran craves. The rich buy them by the dozen in the corners of busy streets. The poor prepare them by the hundreds every night and dawn, before daybreak comes, requiring their swollen feet and hands back at their corners. It was in the process of preparing them for the first time this previous Christmas that I realized just how much nacatamales relate to my Honduran identity. Each step, each ingredient, is also a facet of my everyday life as a Honduran woman, especially upon moving to America tostudy. It is time we share the recipe for nacatamales; it is time we share what life as Honduran is. 1. Place 4 tomatoes, 3 green chilies, and 1 white onion (2 if small) in a blender. Liquefy until completely liquid. “You gotta hook me up with some Ecuadorean girl or guy,” Tiff says in between bites, “they’re fineashell,” the last three words mushing up into one, as she tries to swallow and talk at the same time. “I don’t think I even know any Ecuadorean people,” I say, confused as to where this is coming from. She frowns, “wait, aren’t you from Ecuador?” “I’m from Honduras,” I say, not annoyed nor upset. “Yeah, yeah, that’s what I meant. It’s the same thing, the Hispanic people.” I laugh; it wasn’t malicious, and at least she didn’t say we’re all Mexicans. Ecuadorean, Honduran, Mexican–– we’re as different and similar as tomatoes, chilies, and onions. But we’re blended 65