Pabellon Criollo

Few things are more Venezuelan than a Pabellón Criollo. This typical dish, which consists of fried sweet plantains, or "tajadas," white rice, stewed shredded beef and black beans, was a staple of my childhood. My family would eat this, variations of this, or sometimes we would take a break and eat some arepas. For us, eating pabellón wasn't a cultural experience, it was just eating. Eating Venezuelan food in Venezuela was clearly not out of the ordinary. When we moved to the United States, I was 9 years old. We first moved to Weston, Florida -- or, as many call it, Westonzuela. Even if there were some Spanish-speaking people around me, the move was still a major adjustment: different language, different people, entirely different schooling system. When I felt unbalanced or out of sorts, typical Venezuelan food always brought me comfort and stability. It reminded me of my past and helped me build a connection to my new present. My family helped me maintain my culture and stay connected to those roots as we continue to eat typical Venezuelan food often. Just like a song or a picture can bring you back to certain times in your life, these types of meals bring me back to my childhood home, the parks in which I'd play and the streets through which I walked. It's not very safe to go back to Venezuela at the moment, so when I'm feeling nostalgic I turn to Pabellón.

Year: 2004

– Maia Dombey

Relationship:  Im/migrant who arrived as a child Im/migrant who arrived as a child