When I moved to New York City from Los Angeles at 23, I realized that Sunday mornings wouldn’t smell like plátanos, dark beans mixed with tomatoes, and my mom’s sazón. This heavenly smell singing in our kitchen would wake up everyone in the house — it was my Salvadoran family’s Sunday custom.

I moved to New York for master’s level college at NYU, hopefully thinking about the incredible experience before me, yet hadn’t generally considered life away from my family. I unpleasantly looked through New York City basic food item paths searching for queso fresco for the bean dish my mom would show me how to make on FaceTime. In any case, even with the correct cheddar, I would never discover hand crafted tortillas — without them, I couldn’t in any way, shape or form have a genuine Salvadoran feast.

In Los Angeles, Salvadoran culture is obvious and dynamic. You can discover pupuserias serving a wide range of Salvadoran cooking all through the city. In my South Central people group, I could depend on finding a Salvadoran café on each street. In any case, in New York, that was never again my existence. Caribbean and Chinese sustenance eateries were pervasive, which I cherished, yet I missed Salvadoran passage.

When I felt the most achy to visit the family, I desired Salvadoran sustenance the most. I always wound up looking through Yelp and Google Maps, constantly asking my New York City companions, “Where are the Salvadoran cafés at?” They’d state “all the Salvis” are on Long Island.
But this response made me feel both lonely and far away from home. I felt even more distance between myself and El Salvador, where I’d migrated from when I was five.

I’m not the first person who has felt this way when apart from family or their native country, and I know I won’t be the last. In fact, many Latinx people say food is the one thing that makes them feel most connected to their cultures when they’re homesick.

Courtesy of Estefani Alarcon
Valentina, 25, tells Bustle that food served as a connection to her family’s native country after they migrated from Venezuela when she was 3 years old. Valentina says her parents would always call out the “traditional” Venezuelan dishes they’d serve at holidays, birthdays, or any gathering. “We would have this if we were in Venezuela,” she remembers them saying.

Before she became vegan at 23, Valentina ate traditional Venezuelan meals like white rice, black beans, plátanos, shredded beef and pork and an arepa on the side. Now, she gets creative to make vegan arepas with cauliflower or other vegetables when she misses home.

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