I never knew bilingualism was a thing until I had a kid. Growing up in a Spanish-speaking country with visionary parents adamant about my sister and I speaking and writing in two languages always felt like the norm. And this was over 30 years ago. Now that bilingualism in the U.S. has become more ubiquitous with serious benefit-boasting scientific research to back it up, what things can we do as parents to optimize the experience?
Figure out the language strategy that works for you
For those parents who are thinking about raising their children in two languages, there are three main language policies to consider. One parent, one language is the one I’m using where one parent is consistently the one that speaks the language. Minority language at home means that the parents always speak the language whenever they’re with the kids. And there’s language time, a technique where the parent designates a particular amount of time for the language, setting expectations for the child, like 10 minutes a day and eventually working themselves up to days or even weeks at a time. This one seems to come in particularly handy when you’re teaching two, three, even four languages like this multilingual Mom. more »
We had traveled to the Dominican Republic’s Punta Cana last winter to break away from New York’s cold and gray and connect my daughter with the island of Mamá and Papá, where the air blows salty, the greens and blues amaze, and people treat you like they’ve known you their whole lives. For this trip, we were celebrating my husband’s birthday and getting our family and friends together all under one roof.
We stayed at a gorgeous villa in the Punta Cana Resort and Club where we greeted the day with generous cups of Café Santo Domingo, one of the island’s treasures and one of my favorite things on earth, on the poolside terrace and then fueled up with a royal breakfast spread of fresh fruit, eggs, toast, plantains, and batatas (sweet potatoes). Mornings went usually like this: We drove the golf cart to nearby Playa Serena which was an accurately named secluded spot with cool turquoise waters, sand as fine as flour, and a breezy beach front restaurant called The Grill perfect to grab a beer and snack after a dip in the ocean or some golf. more »
On how I felt at home, in Mumbai03.28.14
If you’ve been following me on Instagram @50Bottles you know that I kicked off the year spending six weeks in Mumbai, India and returned to NYC with a baby girl in arms. My husband and I were pregnant via surrogate and traveled halfway around the world to make our dream of a family a reality.
It was my first time in India and I didn’t know what to expect. Friends who had visited had warned me that it was a country filled with extremes, where sprawling high-rises neighbored makeshift slums, cows and elephants sauntered down traffic lanes, and kids played in dirty water. In reality, what got me most weren’t these observations, which seemed matter of fact once I arrived, but its volume, and especially the human density. With about 13 million inhabitants, to say that Mumbai is a congested city is an obvious understatement and makes NYC’s eight million inhabitants seem paltry by comparison. Everywhere you turned, things came in droves: people, cars, animals, buildings. I had stepped into another dimension, a parallel universe that captured the entire spectrum of humanity in one single place. more »
Pommes Dauphinoise and a toast12.28.11
And…exhale. After all the holiday parties, tree-trimming, gift exchanges, and last-minute shopping frenzies, being back in the kitchen again was a perfect opportunity to slow things down. So Ana, my mother-in-law and one of my favorite cooks, and I prepared Pommes Dauphinoise (au gratin potatoes) from the Food 52 Holiday Recipe and Survival Guide cookbook that I reviewed last week. We peeled, sliced, grated, sprinkled, and created a delicate rendition of the classic potato dish, all the while using the iPad as a guide, and infusing the house with mouthwatering aromas of nutty gruyère and lemony thyme. We then served it as one of the main characters in a totally simple, cozy meal of hearty pasteles, glazed ham, avocado salad, and red wine. We toasted to family and to being together. Thanks Alex, for capturing the story with your beautiful images. more »
I was on a mission to find “Latinized” versions of holiday drinks, like the egg nog and mulled cider that now abound in outdoor market around the city. And I found them. In the December issue of the Food Network magazine, a handy guide perfect for adding to your off-line recipe collection featured how-to’s for Hot Dulce de Leche, Mexican Hot Chocolate and Coconut Nog, as well as festive concoctions perfect for warming us up from the inside out (ei. maple chai) and getting us into the spirit with a little bubbly (ei. kir royale).
But this week, as I read through Melissa Clark’s rediscovery of eggnog in the New York Times, I remembered the holiday traditions of my life back home. Along with an arduous fruit cake production that would tie up the kitchen for days, Mom would always be ready to prepare her own decadent interpretation of one of her favorite drinks, the Brandy Alexander. She whipped up this creamy elixir every time she was ready to entertain (which was almost daily). With exuberant gusto she combined condensed milk, evaporated milk, white rum and crème de cacao, blended it with ice and poured the frosty mixture into delicate rose-colored goblets, topping each glass with a sprinkle of cinnamon. The result was a dreamy, creamy drink that is (almost) worthy of replacing dessert. As Feist best puts it in her song, this drink definitely “goes down easy”.
This holiday I invite you to make a batch, bottle it up and give it away as homemade gifts. Or keep it, invite your favorite people over for a drink and celebrate how sweet life can be.
Cora’s Brandy Alexander
1 ½ cans of condensed milk
2 ½ cans of evaporated milk
1 can of white rum
1 can of crème de cacao (or your favorite chocolate liqueur)
powdered cinnamon and/or cinnamon stick
note: use one of the empty cans to measure the rum and liqueur
Whisk all the ingredients together in a large bowl. Blend with ice or mix in a cocktail shaker. You can also serve without the ice. Top with cinnamon. Enjoy!