I come from a wildly broad span of cultures and ethnicities—much more than anyone would ever guess from an outsider's perspective. While I inhabit the typical ‘cookie-cutter’ American identities—being white, male, cis-gendered, and middle-class—the blood and DNA that pulses within me goes far beyond that American ‘cookie-cutter’ mold (however, let me be clear: there is nothing wrong with a classic chocolate chip cookie!).
You see, my great grandmother, Marge Vivirito-Martinez, comes from Sicilian traditions and cultures, as well as a family history linked to the ancient, original Sicilian Mafia. As she grew up as a beautiful, stubborn, and confident woman, her eventual husband, Pete Martinez, also grew up—literally across the street. Pete, coming from an entirely Latino background from Mexico, was everything that Marge and her Sicilian family were not. Whilst Marge grew up with orderly crime, strict curfews, and a fair financial situation, Pete came from a ‘go-with-the-flow,’ poor, and largely dangerous background—leading Marge’s family to restrict any connection with Pete. However, where there were blatant differences, they found fantastic similarities in other aspects of life—they made each other feel safe when safety was never a sure thing. Despite all odds, Pete and Marge morphed together inherently different familial backgrounds to form a fascinating combination of Sicilian and Mexican heritages, all coming together to form the person I am today. While there are many aspects I get from their cultures and lives, one of the most long-lasting components is my newfound knowledge of worldly cuisine and cooking.
The following recipe is not an archaic, tried-and-true family recipe passed down from Marge and Pete, but instead a glorious combination of their ideologies and ways of life. It’s a recipe for baking bread, born out of the year 2020 bestowed onto us, when all we had to do was sit inside and twiddle our thumbs. Perhaps the best component of this recipe is its simplicity; the baker who crafts the bread may choose to keep the ingredients and amounts as strict and clean as possible, while another baker may choose to throw in aromatic spices like basil and rosemary, or use exotic flours and oils. While Marge grew up used to strict order, and Pete had a lack thereof, both learned to make compromises—in food, and life. A little bit of flour, a splash of water, and a carefully measured portion of salt—the perfect mix of control and chaos. This is my recipe, constructed through bridging my own understanding of food with my Great Grandparents, Pete and Marge Martinez.