Q&A with is a new on-going articles series where we ask Latinx creators about different topics. This month, we’re talking about heritage and how it influenced them.

Yashira Franco is a Puerto Rican cook currently living in Miami, where she raises her two daughters -who are 10 and 7 years old- and teaches them about their Puerto Rican roots through her amazing recipes. 

Back at the island, her family cooked many local dishes, but when she and her husband left almost two decades ago, she realized she didn’t know too much about all her favorite Puerto Rican dishes. So, she started investigating and making Puerto Rican recipes, accomplishing amazing dishes and sharing them on @wholetogethernow, one of our favorite Puerto Rican food Instagram accounts. 

During the pandemic, Yashira has been cooking a lot and trying to use all her extra time at home to teach her kids about Puerto Rican culture, language and recipes. She embraced cooking as more of an experience than a necessity, and started brainstorming new fusion ideas.

We asked her about the importance of her cultural heritage: “My cultural heritage is the catalyst of our family, it’s the foundation of how I raise my children and keep our most treasured traditions alive. The legacy that I inherited is a projection of our daily life, and one that I hope my children value and pass on to the next generation. When it comes to food, my cultural heritage runs deep. It takes over when I’m in the kitchen creating or recreating a recipe. I just can’t help but to incorporate anything familiar to me to make a dish special! It could be recao, plátano, bacalao, guava, pork… you name it!”

Yashira Franco. Pic courtesy of Yashira Franco.

Yashira Franco. Pic courtesy of Yashira Franco.

 

On her memories from Puerto Rico and how they influenced her cooking

Since family traditions in the kitchen are very important for Yashira, we wanted to know about her favorite memories about cooking at home: “Growing up in Puerto Rico, my family celebrated every single holiday, birthday, even the lives of loved ones that passed away. My fondest memories of all those celebrations were at my abuela’s house. It was the place where we all gathered, and when I say ‘all’ I mean all my primos, primas, tíos and tías. Abuela’s house had two doors, one near the balcony where you could find my abuelo playing the cuatro in the mornings and afternoons, and the other one led directly to the kitchen. If you wanted to find abuela, there was only one door that could lead you towards her, the kitchen door. There were no plug-ins or essential oils needed at her house, the aromatherapy of fresh café colao’ and fresh bread with mantequilla was her humble way of welcoming everyone.”

When asked about the best tip that she inherited from home, she told us: “My abuela always made her own sofrito, it was her secret weapon in the kitchen. Let’s be honest, there’s nothing better than homemade sofrito! Best tip from her!”

On Latin cultural heritage and English

Does Yashira translate her recipes or ingredients from Spanish to English now that you she lives in Miami? “When I share traditional recipes from my country, I prefer using the name of the ingredient OR dish in its native form and providing a translation or adaptation into English. I feel it is my responsibility to share with others the history or any cultural detail in relation to the dish and/or ingredients.”

For this amazing cook, her cultural heritage is her pride. “There’s a sense of belonging when it comes to any culture and its food, celebrating that at home is imperative for the cultural growth and enrichment of our future generations.”

We love finding people that keep honoring their large history and rich heritage, even when they are away from their home countries, and Yashira is an incredible example of this. Thank you for kindly sharing your remarkable thoughts with us!

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