culinary: [kuhl-uh-ner-ee] adj. Of, pertaining to, or used in cooking or the kitchen.
grammar: [gram-er] n. The elements of any science, art, or subject.
About the Blog
I heard so many stories about food growing up, mostly from my father, the storyteller of the family. I heard about his friendship with a little goat when he was a boy in Cuba, and finding out later that his little goat would be dinner. I heard about the memory of his father snapping snails away from wet rocks to snack on. I heard about him eating ice cream from a cart in el Parque del Retiro in Madrid, after his family left Cuba. I heard about the grease rolling from flat slices of pizza onto paper plates in New York, and about his time working in a New Jersey bakery, about sugar burns and pastry sheets.
Food is also a big part of my own memory and story. I remember the cardboard smell of my grandfather’s bodega, the pastries in glass cases and his bloody apron as he rounded the butcher counter. I remember eating ham croquetas smashed between two slices of fluffy cuban bread on a Florida beach. I remember the greasy Chinese buffets we frequented in my small Tennessee home town. I remember college dining halls of starches and salads. I remember sickly sweet cupcakes from student birthdays as a teacher, and feasting at a long table of shrimp and crawfish with my colleagues on teacher appreciation day. I remember eating a sandwich by Lake Michigan after signing the lease of my first apartment in Chicago, smiling between bites at my new skyline. I remember long crisp churros and rich thick chocolate from my solo trip to Madrid…I could go on.
Food, sometimes, is just food, but it is also history, culture, identity, and expression. It is both necessity and art, as well as a favorite language. It is something elemental transformed by our humanity. It is my favorite alchemy. That is what this blog is about.
Culinary Grammar originally started one college summer break seven years ago as a mission to teach myself to cook the Cuban food I grew up eating, but in the sizzle of the sofrito I learned to make, I could hear my roots growing deeper into my identity. This blog has had many stops and starts through the years, growing up along with me. What you will find now is a simple and honest celebration of food and language, the way our plates capture our stories, cultures, and connections and how language attempts to paint those plates. You might find some recipes, or you might not. It’s not a place to scroll past a cutesy anecdote to get to a tested recipe. It’s a place to enjoy some words about food and some food about words. Buen provecho.
My name is Steph. I’m a cubana vegetariana, and I have an adorable greyhound named Dreamer. I grew up in Tennessee but now live in Chicago, even in the winter. By day I work for an education non-profit. By night I’m reading, cooking, writing, watching a favorite show, or teaching myself something new.
The writing and photos in this blog are mine. Please do not use them elsewhere without attributing them and linking them to source.