Monday, July 26, 2021

Authentically Mexican by John Paul Brammer

In the spirit of mixing things up, I downloaded Authentically Mexican by John Paul Brammer, which was included in my Audible subscription. It's not a long audiobook, but in terms of it being vastly different from the cultural slant I'm accustomed to, it nevertheless offered a slice of novelty for me.

I admit that I struggled a bit with the narration – Brammer reads his own work, and he has a particular upward inflection that annoys me. So it took me a bit to get into the audiobook. What I did love was his discussion of identity – something I do relate to a lot. Brammer stands in a cultural no-man's land somewhere between his Mexican and American heritage, and most of the book is about how he tries to bridge that gap and find an identity that is uniquely his own – by digging into his Mexican roots through food.

His family is anything but standard, but what shines through is Brammer's love for his grandmother and the recipes that underpinned his world. This book is part discussion on food, family, cultural heritage, and identity, and how all are inextricably linked. Joy, sorrow, and nostalgia mingle in a way that you can almost taste and touch the meals discussed. As a South African, the chances of me ever getting to eat any of the foods mentioned here, as cooked authentically across the pond, are slim, but I do feel like I've stepped away from this reading with a better understanding of the complexities of a culture that is vastly different from my own yet has some universalities that transcend culture geographic separation. 

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