What’s a Mexican meal without beans? I remember having beans with almost every meal, including breakfast. A meal that usually consisted of beans, rice, and tortillas, provided all the necessary proteins for a healthy diet. And so meat wasn’t always necessary. Most Mexicans eat healthy diets until they come to America and start eating fast food. Mexicans must never forget to eat their beans, rice, and tortillas. When I say beans, I really mean frijoles. They were always frijoles to me. Even when I speak English, occasionally slip and I accidentally say frijoles instead of beans.
In Chicago’s Millenium Park, we have a sculpture by Anish Kapoor called Cloud Gate. But somehow, someway everyone started calling it the Bean. Everyone except me. To me, it’s ¡El Frijol! It’s a giant frijol to me. All the sculpture needs is the accompanying rice and tortillas. But I’m not the only one who associates Cloud Gate with something Mexican. In fact, in one of our downtown bus shelters, I saw a poster of El Frijol over the bottom half of the Aztec calendar forming a symmetrical circle. The two figures actually complemented each other.
Anyway, I read this book called, It’s All in the Frijoles: 100 Famous Latinos Share Real-Life Stories, Time-Tested Dichos, Favorite Folktales, and Inspiring Words of Wisdom by Yolanda Nava. I have to admit that the book has a very impressive, all-encompassing title, and at first, I felt too intimidated to read it. So I bought is a birthday present for my father for his eightieth birthday. After he opened his presents at his party, a few people started leafing through the book. My sister thought the book was interesting after reading some of the dichos (sayings); at least she didn’t judge the book by its cover alone, which is very pretty by the way.
So I bought myself a copy of the book piled it on my stack of “to read” books. When I finally read it, I suffered from an identity crisis. I wasn’t like anyone of those Latinos in the book. Whenever I’d read about a person of Mexican descent, I’d think, okay, I’ll have something in common with this Mexican. But no! When I compare her life stories with mine, I question whether or not I’m actually Mexican!