The culture of cuisine: a family’s journey (includes video)

Growing up, my mother Victoria Gray heard stories from her mom, Grace, of her upbringing in Havana, Cuba. There were tales of triumph and tears, as Grace had to flee Cuba alone at 17 to make a new start in the United States. Although Victoria knew about her family’s story and roots, she was raised in Palos Verdes, California where there was virtually no Cuban population. This factor, combined with her family’s assimilation into American life, left Victoria feeling isolated from her culture.

As a woman, she discovered her love for cooking Cuban food after moving to Miami and spending time with her grandmother in the kitchen. Victoria realized that cooking Cuban meals allowed her to tap into her culture in a vibrant way and honor her mother’s roots and sacrifices.

“When I cook Cuban food, what’s happening for me is that I’m connecting to all the Cuban family that I never got a chance to meet,” said Victoria.


Amanda Gray is a Cuban-American student majoring in digital media at FIU. She intends to utilize her knowledge of writing, public speaking, editing, and social media management to pursue a career in non-profit work, bringing to life her passion for communication and advocacy. Gray has enjoyed extensive international travel and uses her global perspective to highlight and serve communities.