Home Away from Home… In My Belly

By the time most people have graduated college they are living away from their parents. Some people have gone away for long extended semi holidays (this would involve maybe getting a 12 month work and holiday visa for the country of your choice)… as I’m doing at the moment.  If you haven’t, you’re a sucker. No, sorry. You’re not a sucker but you should leave! Now! Pack your bags and go on vacation.

I’ve been in Melbourne, Australia since December working and holiday-ing with the best of them! Since I’m in a completely different time zone I think it’s okay to feel a little hint of homesickness. I not only miss US/NY type of things like, say, Hulu, Spodify, Netflix, driving, Broadway, I also miss the food. Mostly, my favorite restaurants in New York. I will now name a few: Meatball Shop, Bianca, Freeman’s, Crif Dogs, Westville, Grey Dogs, Caracas*, Clinton Street Bakery, Eataly, Socarrat, the fried chicken and bread pudding at Blue Ribbon Bakery. I could go on forever but I won’t because you’ll get bored and I’ll get hungry. The good news is that there is an abundance of delicious restaurants in Melbourne to keep me occupied and not wondering how long the line at Shake Shack is right now so I can have a lovely burger with fries and a shake.

I’ve been a wanderer since I was 14 and have lived away from my family for some time now so I couldn’t figure out why this trip to Australia was different than all the others. There was something that was keeping my home sickness alive and present to the point where I’d lay down in the fetal position and call my parents knowing it was 1am their time or send my sister pictures of everything in sight, begging for some in return.

See, I grew up eating (more like devouring) Venezuelan food: Arepas, tequenos, empanadas, caphapas, flan, tres leches. I found a few “Venezuelan” restaurants but they were liars. It wasn’t the same at all. They have no idea what they were doing and I was outraged! I didn’t throw anything but I was definitely at that level. Then one day the skies split in two, a bright light came down and landed directly on a Venezuelan flag swaying beautifully in the wind in front of an Arepa Bar. I walked in and heard the music my mom use to play in the kitchen while cooking, I didn’t hear it metaphorically like in a dream… literally. I looked around as if I were the host of a cooking show on the verge of giving my verdict, and I approved! It was almost the spitting image of what it should have been. Big, messy plates of food, arepas overflowing with different meats, avocado and beans, cheese perfectly melting out of the side of the cachapa, juices offered in every color a crayon comes in. I felt my heart smile. I was home, in the form of food.

I think the problem was I’d never gone longer than a few weeks without eating Venezuelan food, the food I so easily associate with my loving family and growing up in South Florida. Now, I’m not saying that the complete reason for feeling home sick was not eating a certain type of good. No. What I’m saying is that eating Venezuelan food, took the sick away from home sick and made me happy. I felt normal again.

That is one of the main reasons why I’ve always loved food. I think it’s a clear representation of different cultures and helps to keep experiences alive. Food is not only important and essential to every day life but the best way to connect with others. As cheesy as it may sound, having a bite of that arepa took me on a 30-hour plane ride back to Florida, straight to my parents house.

Do you have certain meal or type of food that you associate with home or family? 

*If you’re in NYC/Brooklyn, please go to Caracas and try anything. It’s brilliant Venezuelan food. Spoiler alert: it’s suppose to be messy!

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Comments

  1. shannonhumphreys says:

    I so get this right now. I’ve been living in the UK for almost a year and a half now, and while there are tons of great things to eat (REALLY) there are things I just miss the hell out of. I’m a Jersey girl, so I miss Taylor Ham and cheese and Pizza Town calzones and Hot Grill Texas wieners and pretty much everything Goya. Pregnancy cravings are NOT helping. I’ve made my mom mail me little things (packets of Tropical Punch Kool Aid and Black Jack chewing gum, specifically), but apparently there is no way to get myself an actual, honest to goodness Egg McMuffin. I’m going to walk away now, before this comment gets any worse.

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