Home Away from Home… In My Belly

In the US, by the time most people have graduated college they are living away from their parents and are not coming back. I am no exception. I was working in NYC for 2 years before moving to Melbourne, Australia to work and holiday with the best of them! Since I’m in a completely different time zone it seems okay to feel a little hint of homesickness.

I not only miss US/NY type of things like, say, Hulu, Spodify, Netflix, driving, Broadway, I also miss the food. Mostly, my favorite restaurants in New York. I will now name a few: Meatball Shop, Bianca, Freeman’s, Crif Dogs, Westville, Grey Dogs, Caracas*, Clinton Street Bakery, Eataly, Socarrat, the fried chicken and bread pudding at Blue Ribbon Bakery. I could go on forever but I won’t because you’ll get bored and I’ll get hungry. The good news is that there is an abundance of delicious restaurants in Melbourne to keep me occupied and not wondering how long the line at Shake Shack is right now.

I’ve been a wanderer since I was 14 and have lived away from my family for some time now so I couldn’t figure out why this trip to Australia was different than all the others. There was something that was keeping my home sickness alive and present to the point where I’d lay in fetal position to speak on the phone with parents or send my sister pictures of everything in sight, begging for some in return.

See, I grew up eating Venezuelan food: Arepas, tequenos, empanadas, caphapas, flan, tres leches. I found a few “Venezuelan” restaurants here, but they were liars. It wasn’t the same at all. They have no idea what they were doing and I’d just leave angry every time! I didn’t throw anything but I was definitely at that level. Then one day the skies split in two, a bright light came down and landed directly on a Venezuelan flag swaying beautifully in the wind in front of an Cruzao Arepa Bar down Brunswick Street in Fitzroy. I walked in and heard the music my mom use to play in the kitchen while cooking, I didn’t hear it metaphorically, this is literal. I looked around as if I were the host of a cooking show on the verge of giving my verdict! It was almost the spitting image of what it should have been. Big, messy plates of food, arepas overflowing with different meats, avocado and beans, cheese perfectly melting out of the side of the cachapa, juices offered in every color a crayon comes in. I felt my heart smile. I was home, in the form of food.

I think the problem was I’d never gone longer than a few weeks without eating Venezuelan food, the food I so easily associate with my  family. Now, I’m not saying that the complete reason for feeling home sick was not eating a certain type of food. No. What I’m saying is that eating Venezuelan food, took the sick away from home sick and made me happy. I felt normal again.

That is one of the main reasons why I’ve always loved food. I think it’s a clear representation of different cultures and helps keep memories alive. Food is not only essential in every day life; it’s the best way to connect with others. As cheesy as it may sound, having a bite of that arepa took me on a 30-hour plane ride back to Florida, straight to my parents house.

Do you have certain meal or type of food that you associate with home or family?

*If you’re in NYC/Brooklyn, please go to Caracas and try anything. It’s brilliant Venezuelan food.

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