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Outside of our home, Mexican restaurants and Hispanic celebrations such as Cinco de Mayo were a visible sign that our customs had spilled into the streets, but somehow these customs seemed Americanized to me.
Moving to California was a culture shock. It was as if someone tore down all boundaries and let traditions from other cultures run freely throughout every corner of the state, especially here in Salinas, California.
Restaurants in Salinas are not clustered into one big Mexican category. You can find dishes that were brought by natives from every corner of Mexico, like typical carnitas estilo Michoacán, enchiladas mineras from Guanajuato or Tlayudas from Oaxaca. Dishes that Americans typically enjoy are offered alongside traditional soups, like menudo or pozole. Mexicans from other states are in awe when they see non-Hispanics order typical tacos de tripa or de buche and are completely shocked to hear them order them in Spanish!
Now taught in most schools, Spanish has become a second language. Beyond the language, kids are taught elements of the culture, sometimes learning to dance to cumbias and rancheras since kindergarten. In that vein, music has found a way to expand everyone’s playlist regardless of their background, skin color or even language. You shouldn’t be surprised to discover a non-Hispanic’s knowledge of songs and artists ranging from los Tigres del Norte to Gloria Trevi. Even during Mexican festivities, you encounter people of all races celebrating “ Dia de los Muertos” or “ Posadas Navideñas” while drinking champurrado or atole. Many American families have morphed into a beautiful blend of Mexican-Americans.
The impact Hispanics have had in this state is palpable and goes beyond what is typical in other areas of our nation. That impact is what Se Habla USA is all about, and we’re happy to celebrate it.