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Food as Community
The two congregations continue to interact as members of the Latino congregation cook and sell tamales to raise money for the San Pedro Church in Maltrata, Mexico. Thus, food not only brings the two congregations together but also strengthens the church’s relationship with their sister parish – serving as a mechanism in which the church reinforces its transnational relationships.
As the Anglo congregants try new Mexican delicacies, they are interacting directly with one of the most important aspects of Mexican culture – Comida Mexicana (Mexican food). Thus, the way in which the congregations share food highlights the successes and difficulties they face as they interact with each other. Norma Espinoza, a middle-aged woman who has been involved in the church for three years, explains some of the ways in which food emphasizes challenges that the two communities encounter- how food highlights cross-cultural differences:
The food is spicier, is heavier. We use Mexican tradition, which is different from the cultures here. A lot of times we prepare food ourselves. Together – like when the Pastor says we are going to have a party- we cook. During the Day of the Dead celebration, we have food from both cultures. We bring our food, and they (the Anglican community) brings theirs. But always, when we are eating, they don’t eat a lot of the food that we eat. It is because we don’t have recipes or ingredients listed. Because I used this and this and this, it could make them sick. But sometimes other Latino community members don’t understand this. I don’t consider it racism, but I don’t know, maybe the rest of the community does. I don’t consider it racism. But I know that a lot of them don’t eat our food. Because we don’t have strict diets. We just prepare the food the way we know how to prepare it. Because we cook as our culture taught us to cook. We don’t worry if the food has too much fat, or whatever it might be. But in the church some people don’t like it, it makes them mad that the Americans don’t eat our food. But it is because they are not used to the food and it is difficult if it is going to make you sick, because we have different ways of preparing our food. And therefore we have to work a little bit. And if we can’t share food, we are going to sit down and share our culture through other means.
And if we can’t share food, we are going to sit down and share our culture through other means.
While food can serve as a bridge between community members, new flavors and distinct aromas serving as a unique vocabulary and distinct language, sometimes the message is not a positive one. Many Anglican members still view the other Latino congregation as foreigners, and their inability to connect on one of the most simplistic level, their inability to share food, mirrors such disconnect.