A Traditional Mexican Lunch with the Community
February 27, 2019
All Hands and Hearts – Smart Response is currently building two schools in Jojutla, a city in Morelos, Mexico. The first school, Narciso Mendoza, is located in a small neighborhood, only a five minute walk away from the base camp, making it very convenient to come back for lunch and then back to work. The second school, Vicente Guerrero, is farther away, and part of another neighborhood called.
Since Vicente Guerrero is further away than Narciso Mendoza, the volunteers that work on the construction site have lunch there every day.
Monday through Friday, All Hands and Hearts pays local cooks to prepare delicious Mexican meals for the volunteers. On Saturdays however, the community in likes to take turns treating and eating with the volunteers. More often than not, the people cooking are mothers of children that attend Vicente Guerrero.
On this particular community meal, the wonderful cooks prepared an incredible feast. They made Milanesas, which is breaded meat, noodles in a sauce and rice and beans with a side salad.
It was clear how much time and affection was put into the meal because of how incredibly delicious it was. To make sure that everyone had as much to eat as they possibly could, the cooks refused to sit down and eat until everyone had their fill.
Several volunteers asked why the cooks were refusing to eat with them. The volunteers were so eager to spend time and talk to the community members that they were a little disappointed when they found they wouldn’t be sitting and enjoying the meal with them. The staff on hand explained that it’s not that they don’t want to spend time with them, it’s just that cooking and serving their guests brings them great joy.
In traditional Mexican culture, it’s very common for the cooks in a household to prepare and serve the meal before partaking in their own. Once everyone has had enough to fill their bellies, the cooks then sit down, eat their meal and partake in a very cherished latin american tradition called “sobremesa”.
Sobremesa is the act of staying at the table past the meal, enjoying one another’s company and partaking in conversation. Many of the volunteers weren’t used to the tradition, coming from households where one finishes their food, does their dishes and goes on their own way, but a few minutes into it they were sold.
For the rest of the lunch, the chefs and volunteers sat around talking about the school, it’s progress and all the wonderful times they’ve had on the program. It was clear that many bonds were made that day and the volunteers can’t wait for next Saturday so they can enjoy some more great food and most importantly, sobremesa.
Soon, the schools we are constructing will be complete, and these visits will necessarily come to an end. Each passing week is another chance for both the volunteers, and the local community to get to know one another while we have the chance. It is a bittersweet reminder that we all have a brief chance to know one another. And luckily for the volunteers on the program, they can do exactly that.
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