Prairie and Pampa is a culinary blog that started less than three years ago, a journal that chronicled my baking and cooking adventures as an expatriate Argentine living in the U.S.
The inspiration for this blog started even further back to 2009, when one weekday after leaving work, I found myself feeling so homesick for the language, culture, and food I had grown up with that I really wanted to eat a dinner of delicious, golden-baked empanadas. That afternoon, I searched for any Latin American restaurant in Minneapolis or St. Paul or nearby suburbs that sold empanadas, but alas, I found only one. It was a Peruvian restaurant, and after excitedly driving all the way there, I found to my dismay that the restaurant had closed months earlier. I looked at the closed restaurant, biting my bottom lip thoughtfully as I realized: if I wanted the flavors I grew up with, I would have to learn how to cook those recipes myself.
And just like that, my culinary journey began! It has been such a fun, creative journey.
As an expatriate living in a different culture, re-creating the flavors of home is a fun and relaxing way for me to find that feeling of connection with culture, family history and tradition. If you’ve ever studied abroad and felt homesick, lived overseas in a distant country, or even moved from one region of your country to another, most likely you will be able to relate to that moment when the enticing scents wafting from the kitchen are not only mouth-watering but also have the magical ability to help you feel relaxed and instantly at home no matter where you are. It is this magical alchemy, brought about by combining the simplest of ingredients into wonderful dishes, that is at the heart of my love of cooking.
A few of the recipes you will find here are Argentine recipes I grew up with updated with a twist; family heirloom recipes I’ve re-created to recapture what has been passed verbally by the women in my family; Chinese American recipes from my husband’s side of the family; and recipes inspired by the flavors and traditions of my new home here in Minnesota. For me, cooking is truly an act of magic, where I find extraordinary beauty in the simplest, most ordinary task of the day: preparing a meal. From cakes to breads to pasta to empanadas and other dishes, the recipes in this blog come from a passionate love for food and sharing it with others.
Over the last few years, I cooked different dishes and baked a storm of cakes, cookies, and desserts. Through this culinary journey, I discovered that food is central to celebrations, gatherings, festivities, and how you mark life’s bright occasions, from a wedding to a birthday to a religious holiday. Whenever there is a special occasion, there is always a special dish or dessert to celebrate it! And whenever people want to share part of their family traditions, food invariably shows up, connecting them to their roots.
With each recipe on the blog, I share a story about my journey of adapting from the Argentine Pampas to the Midwestern Prairie. Sometimes the stories are about the history of a recipe or ingredient. Sometimes the stories are personal. Sometimes they are just anecdotes about my life at present. In each of these, I hope that my passion and love for food comes across in each of the recipes, and that it inspires you to see cooking as a journey that will take you from one place in the world to another, just as it took me from the Argentine Pampas to the Minnesotan Prairie.