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GATOR SNAPSHORT: SOUL FOOD

Updated: Aug 6

“Do you ever feel like you could be a kid again? That is exactly how I feel whenever I go home for school breaks and I smell my mom’s cooking all the way from the kitchen to the front of the house.




Ever since I was a kid, our dining tables have been filled always with full course meals. Big extravagant meals. And don’t even get me started with the desserts. Because they are a big part of the feast. After filling up on the delicious food, we would just linger over desserts.

Which, I find kinda weird because whenever I went to other people’s houses, their dessert would be a glass of water and fruits… and I just remember sitting at home when I was nine years old eating Tiramisu.

It’s weird because that is when I realized that there is a difference between how my family eats and how other families eat.

"Food for me is not just pasta, pizza, or warm and soft bread. Food for me is love, family and treasured traditions. Food offers a sense of security and care. It has always been there to make me feel whole."

My mom and dad both grew up poor, and so they both work really hard to make sure there’s plenty of food on our table. Growing up, money did not come easy, and so, seeing that as a kid, I have always been super-appreciative of everything we’ve had. Beyond just us, my parents have always taken care of my friends and have tried to provide for those without necessities in the community.

This love is what lies beneath the pages of the hand-me-down cookbooks that are big and yellowed with age. So old that you can barely read the words written in the margins.

My mom may say she needs those books, but she has perfected the recipes in her heart. She always says that a good cook measures their ingredients with love even though I know she just eye-balls it.

She knows exactly what hits the spot too. There is so much care in her cooking -- down to how it’s served piping hot in front of us-- that I know this is no longer just food. It is my culture served on a big plate at a big dining table in front of me and my family. My mother's values and life experiences have been translated through the dishes and fed to me. I feel like this has helped me become a good person.

Family is really important to the Italian side of my family; they always want to talk and be together. And I want to carry some of those traditions into the future. Stories are huge in my family, lots of hand gestures and re-enactments, where you can really feel the excitement and be truly engaged in each story from each relative. And I hope this story may inspire others too.”


Ray Englert '22 (Major: Business; Minor: Energy and Society)

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