I gardened. I grew fresh herbs and used them. I learned about cilantro - unheard of in Ohio at that time. I learned that I had a fairly green thumb. I grew broccoli, cabbage, sweet potatoes, a variety of squash called Guicoy that when young, resembled zucchini in flavor, and when allowed to mature, was the closest thing I had to being able to make a pumpkin pie! Chayote squash, leeks, radishes, carrots, tomatoes, peppers; you name it and I tried planting it! I learned to cook all the typical Guatemalan dishes I could, and in doing so, established my lifelong love of fresh herbs and spices, baking from scratch, and a complete love of learning to cook recipes that has continued to this day.
A young Mayan girl weaving a typical textile
I was thrown into the culture and the foods, at the deep end, so to speak. The first time I went to Guatemala was at age 19, with my Dad. He accompanied me to see what kind of country, what kind of people and what kind of family I was going to marry into. It was over Christmas and New Years that we visited. Christmas time in Guatemala is when tamales are served. Guatemalan tamales and tamales from other countries really have little resemblance to one another. I learned to love and make them in my years there, but at age 19 - I just didn't like them!