Joy to the Cocina

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Published on Latino American Today, December 2013 -by Amalia Moreno-Damgaard

This holiday season let us pay homage to the cocina (kitchen). It is a very special place in the home as it is where everyone in the family spends most of the time every day of their lives. The kitchen brings us together in good and bad times. Often times it is the first place we go to in the morning and the last place we visit in the evening. For some, it may even be the cozy spot on sleepless nights to find comfort with a cup of tea.

Amalia and son Jens making dobladas -VIP dish CH 2The kitchen is more than just a gathering place in a home. No matter where you are in the world or what culture you acquire, the kitchen is the place where magic happens. Hands and mind go to work to create beautiful and delicious works of edible art while families can gather to spend quality time. As a bonus, fresher and healthier eating choices can happen organically just by being there.

The official definition of kitchen is “a room where food is prepared and cooked.“ Wouldn’t it be more appropriate to describe it as a therapeutic place where one can have joy and peace through the creation of delicious and nurturing morsels in the company of loving family and friends? The way we describe places and food creates a picture and perception in people’s minds that can have a positive (or negative) impact. By using words that are appealing, we could entice kitchen-adverse people and children into home-cooking adventures.

Life is a journey, so why not make it into a fun eating adventure cooking as a family and gathering in the kitchen to talk about trivial and important matters. Cooking a multi-course meal from scratch does not have to happen every night to eat right. A simple mixed green salad consisting of dark greens, tomato and onion dressed with light herb vinaigrette accompanied by a store-bought rotisserie chicken and a home-baked potato one evening can be a healthier option for dinner on a hectic day rather than rushing to the nearby fast food drive-through window. On weekends, lean proteins and vegetable stews and soups cooked on a Crockpot can become one-meal hearty dishes for consumption during busy weekdays.

The kitchen is indeed a very special place for me and for many. It is my sanctuary. This is where I developed my passion for fresh and healthy eating and for quality family time exemplified by a nurturing maternal grandmother. If I could send her a virtual gift to heaven this Christmas, I would tell her −THANKS for inspiring me to eat and live healthy through fresh and delicious home-cooked meals paired with special good family times.

¡Buen Provecho y Felices Fiestas de Fin de Año!

Happy Eating and Happy Holidays!