Nine times out of 10, if someone asks me where I’m from, I’ll proudly declare, “I’m Cuban.” Through the influence of my parents, grandparents – and now, extended family on my husband’s side – la cultura Cubana has been something that has become part of my core identity. It’s the very essence of what makes me feel Latina. Well, at least most of the time.
You see, while most days I feel legit AF, there are moments — and people — that make me second-guess my Cuban identity, which results in me feeling like a major impostor. Here are eight times my Cubana cred has been compromised.
When people ask me where I was born
When I was about eight or nine years old, I remember being in a supermarket – or maybe it was an airport – speaking Spanish to my mom, when a gentleman asked me where I was from. Obviously thinking he was impressed with my stellar Spanish skills, I replied, “soy Cubana.” After learning that I was actually born in the U.S. – L.A. if you’re curious – he said, “Ah, entonces tu Mama es Cubana. Tu eres Americana.”
Say what? Yea, to him I didn’t count. And he would be the first of many to feel the same way.
When people ask if I’ve been to Cuba
Hmm, define “been to Cuba.” Because if you want me to tell you stories about what Holguín was like in the early '60s, then we could be here all day. Otherwise, I’ve definitely seen it from a plane.
When a friend asks for a Cuban recipe to impress her beau’s Latina mom
I have a confession: The number of Cuban dishes in my cooking repertoire is zero. I have another confession. I actually don’t love Latin food with the exception of maduros, tostones, and, occasionally, a bistec de palomilla – and that depends who’s making it. Okay fine, I don’t even really like flan!
When I’m speaking Spanish with my in-laws
And I realize I need way more practice. Because compared to them – my husband included — mi español no esta en nada.
When people ask me to make them cafecito
Yea, that’s probably not going to happen, and here’s why. When I moved out on my own, a greca was among the first kitchen essentials I purchased. During my first attempt at making cafecito, said greca actually exploded, spewing Pilón coffee grounds all over my stove top and ceiling. Someone could have lost an eyeball. This was my first and last attempt to make coffee. But hey, I’ll certainly take you to the bodega down the street and have a cup with you.
When people ask me about José Martí
My birthday is on January 28, which if you’re Cuban, you know as “el dia de José Martí .” So when older Cubans point this out to me, I always feel like I should be ready to recite a poem or drop some knowledge about Mr. Martí , which unfortunately, I don’t have too much of.
When I’m dancing salsa
And my partner wants to deviate from any of the three combinations that I learned during my days of being a dama in many quinceañeras. What? Someone wants to do a rueda? I’m out.
When I realize I’ll never be my Cuban grandma
As much as I sometimes poke fun at her, having a Cuban grandma was probably the best part of growing up for me. Her dichos, quirky home remedies, and superstitions. I’ll never be able to compete.