Sister Sonia-Marie Fernández, MHSH
A Report by Sonia-Marie Fernández, MHSH
As a child, I was surrounded by the “cocina criollo,” which Puerto Ricans call the smell and taste of our rich native cuisine. I was fortunate enough to have an excellent chef, my mother, and a ‘wannabe’ chef, my father, who was also a great baker. So straying into other cuisines was never a temptation for me, although some Italian dishes with a “criollo” flavor crept into our meals.
The Sabor a México was awakened in me in the early ‘70s when I, and some colleagues from the American Heart Association, decided to visit Mexico. We were thrilled by the warm and friendly welcome, the sense of fiesta, the tasty and spicy dishes and the influences of the Spanish cuisine—with adash of the Caribbean.
We were introduced into a world of bright colors, unique historical artwork and incredible traditions that brought celebrations to a new level. The colorful clothes were incorporated in their dances. I attended the National Ballet Folklorico de Mexico that displayed the dancing traditions of various regions in religious and cultural ritual and festivals.
This is what the dance group, Bailes de Mi Tierra, conveyed to the parishioners of St. Gabriel Church when they performed at our first fund raiser, the Taste of Mexico—Sabor a Mexico. The money raised goes to our capital campaign for a new Parish Social Center.
Their performance set the tone of the day with vibrant dresses, music and skilled dancers. A feeling of fiesta and celebration of Mexico was enhanced by decorations—“papel picado,” Mexican flags, balloons and the wonderful aroma of the Mexican cuisine.
The people sat back, listening to the music, eating the wonderful food and greeting new amigos with a heartfelt “Gracias, thank you for coming.”
Sabor a México was an unforgettable afternoon of Mexican folklore, dance, music and food, and an atmosphere of carnaval to entertain children, young people and adults with Mexican games and prizes.
This was the parish’s first major fundraiser. It is likely to be repeated with other Hispanic cultures from Central and South America participating, as these groups are also active in the parish.