I Wonder About Meatballs | Brown University Undergraduate Application Essay

Grind the spices in the molcajete. Taste the gritty texture on your tongue.

“No, mija,” my grandmother says as she shows me how to mash the cumin, garlic, onions, and tomatillo. She is in Michigan for the summer, and I think she is homesick. After all, she spends most of her time cooking traditional Mexican dishes that remind her of home. The dishes are not ones I typically associate with Mexico, but, then again, I have not lived there in fourteen years.

Sometimes my grandma asks me to cook with her. We make albóndigas or meatballs and smash the spices in the molcajete. My grandma sighs a little when she sees it is relatively unused; she explains that the remaining traces of other salsas made in the molcajete give the food a unique flavor.

Put some milk in a bowl. Add bread and let it soak in the milk. This will make the albóndigas soft and sturdy.

When I was little, my mother wrapped quesadillas in tinfoil for my lunch. I ate these quietly and carefully, trying to attract the least amount of attention possible. I desperately asked my mother to pack a PB&J sandwich instead.

My mother refused to buy peanut butter. She braided my hair into two tight pigtails and taught me to read in Spanish. I watched jealously as the other…

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