my husband Jorge and son Josiah at age 2
It was our little Sunday ritual. Every week we would visit the Fritanga Managua in Miami for our favorite meal. The place was always packed, music playing, Nicaraguan families gathered around small tables with plastic forks and vinyl tablecloths.
Carne asada, gallo pinto, queso, ensalada and maduros. My belly grew each week both from the yummy food and the baby inside. The girls behind the counter smiled and winked at my handsome Latino husband as I fumbled my way through my order in Spanish. I was the gringa, the American girl whose love of food could cross any cultural and language barriers. There was something that always felt so familiar and close about that little place. The culture embraced a deep sense of family that drew me in. It was as if the baby I was growing belonged to everyone at the fritanga.
I wondered about my father-in-law coming to this country with his little boy, my husband. He was an educated man who lost everything when the Sandinista's invaded his country forcing him to flee for his life with his family. Like so many others, he came with empty hands but full of a willingness to work hard and begin a new life.
He had a paper route, pumped gas, and was a janitor at night just to support those he loved and under his care. When things were hard, the same man with a boy's hand in his own visited the neighborhood fritanga for warm smiles and the familiarity of cultural family home.
The girls behind the counter noticed the first Sunday I missed. Jorge told them he was instructed to get my most favorite meal after I had birthed our son Josiah. They congratulated him and sent extra pieces of tres leches cake home to celebrate our fritanga baby.
Every time we visit Miami, we head straight for the fritanga. We live too far away today so in honor of Hispanic Heritage month (September 15-October 15), we will be making our own maduros and playing some fun Spanish games,activities and hopefully finding some new books.
You can also check out what celebrations are planned in your area here.
For our Latino friends: Here is a link to PBS Parents in Spanish.