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Food from home(ish)

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Cecilia Luce, left, and Angelica Pardo about to eat Venezuelan arepas in Evanston restaurant "La Cocinita." Photo by Saira Ahmed

Sweat threatens to wash over my face as the eternal red hand on the Chicago Avenue crosswalk light mocks me. I attack the useless button on the pole that I’m sure is just there to distract from the unbearably long wait. I think I’m just hot. Or hungry. Or both.

“So, where are we going?” I look at Saira and Ceci desperately. 

“Let’s just walk around and see,” Saira says sanely, like a person who isn’t about to strangle a crosswalk light. Luckily, the light turns.

It’s moments like these when I miss Bogotá the most. I miss the constantly cool weather and arepas. Oh, and empanadas. Don’t even get me started on —

“Patacones?” I shriek. 

Saira and Ceci whip their heads toward where I’m looking. A little restaurant with patacones on the windows and a bright red sign that says “La Cocinita” stands before me. It’s a Venezuelan restaurant. It doesn’t serve the Colombian food I desperately need, but my craving is stronger than my loyalty to my country, so I decide to go off geographical closeness, not authenticity. 

There’s no AC in the restaurant, but the promise of arepas, empanadas and patacones (or tostones, as Venezuelans call them) beats the heat. 

We order, and after a couple of minutes of anticipatory finger tapping, the food arrives. Though it’s not Colombian food, not even close, I feel a piece of home in Evanston. 

I’m doing what Colombians do best: Sharing food with people I deeply care about. 

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