Full belly, happy heart

By Axel Marcenaro
On January 18, 2019

Once a year, I go back to Miami to visit my dad and his side of the family. This experience is always interesting because if you’ve ever been to Miami, you know the city has a very vibrant and diverse culture.
Although I spent some time there when I was young, I was almost entirely raised in Texas, so going back to Miami is as much of a culture shock as it is a vacation. It can be a bit overwhelming, but I always enjoy exploring the unfamiliar when I visit. I think it’s always important to learn and experience other cultures.
My family is Italian and Nicaraguan, and they find it important to educate me on cultural cuisine. While I love the culinary adventures they take me on, I’ve found that a month without a basic burger or chicken fried steak leaves me fending off cowboy diet withdrawals.
There is also a difference in language. In my experience, people in Miami usually speak Spanish before English, and many older people speak little to no English at all. It can be intimidating at times, but I try to look at it as an opportunity to practice my Spanish. I have found that the necessity to speak Spanish helps me learn it much faster than I could in class.
So, even though no amount language practice could help me get a chicken fried steak and mashed potatoes in a Nicaraguan restaurant, I still finished every meal with a phrase my abuela taught me.
“Barriga llena, corazón contento,” or in English: full belly, happy heart.

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