Battered Bilingual

Cultural Perspectives

By Tim Hazell

For poets of the metropolis, discontinuity is more familiar than continuity and discord more usual than agreement. Urbanism in third-world countries and Latino societies is occurring very rapidly along with the negative side effects of unchecked development. Loss of primary (kin) relationships, weaker social control, cultural erosion by mass media, desensitization, and apathy. Young generations are writing themselves out of their predicament and legitimizing the vernacular of their neighborhoods.

Olga Angelina Garcia Echeverría is a Chicana poet, born and raised in East Los Angeles, California, a self-professed “battered bilingual”.

Sonia on Hope Street

This is where I live,

at 1352 Hope Street with mamá,

tía Mari, tío Leo, and my brother Milagro

we live here, the five of us packed together in a box

where there’s no hot water windows don’t work

plumbing don’t work heater don’t work nothing here works.

But this is where I live

in this lopsided brown building that sags like an old face.

Chicano and Chicana poetry first appeared when Victor Bernal published his intricate lyrics early in the last century. Its flowering occurred after the foundation of Quinto Sol Publications. Chicano writers are among America’s most experimental users of English, Spanish and street slang:

“Aquí el inglés trips over itself Y el español comes down off its high Spanish horse, cruises down Whittier Boulevard in a cherry-red Impala lowrider, watchala it rides the bus, eats chile spiced mangos and elotes smothered in mayonesa…”

−Olga Angelina García Echeverría

This Chicano-influenced recipe is ethnic, innovative and ablaze with local color!

Tortilla Encrusted Fish Fillet on Black Bean and Corn Salad

Ingredients:

4 firm fish fillets

1 large lime, zest and juice

1 cup natural tortilla chips, finely crumbled

1/2 tsp. ancho or cayenne chile powder

1/2 tsp. ground cumin

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 °F. Line a shallow baking dish with foil. Toss the tortilla chip crumbs, chile powder, and cumin in a dish. Salt and pepper to taste. Use half the lime juice to pour over the fish fillets. Gently bread each side of the fillets with the tortilla mixture and place on the baking dish. Sprinkle the lime zest over each fillet. Bake for about 15 minutes.

Mango, Kiwi, Corn and Black Bean Salad:

Ingredients:

1/2 medium red onion, small dice

1 mango, peeled and diced

2 large kiwis, peeled and diced

1 serrano pepper, small dice (leave seeds for added heat)

1/3 bunch of coriander, roughly chopped

1 15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 15 oz. can corn, drained

3 ripe tomatoes, chopped

Lime Dressing:

Juice of 1/2 lime

3 tbsp. olive oil

1 tbsp. white wine vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Mix all components together in a large bowl. Slowly pour in lime dressing and toss.

 

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