Bring on the tropics with these Guava-Berry Coconut Cookies! A cream cheese sugar cookie, folded with sweetened flaked coconut and glazed with strawberry guava. It’s about to get tropical all up in this piece!

Guava-Berry Coconut Cookies  ---




Words directed towards those who come from foreign lands, whether fleeing war, gangs or seeking a better life.




Terms expressed, sometimes aggressively towards those who do not immediately adopt ‘American’ culture.

I was born in the USA into a household that was 100% Dominican. My grandma, fleeing abuse came to NYC on a sponsored visa. My mom, with her 4 siblings followed years later, green card in hand to a country that did not wholeheartedly embrace them. It was the mid 70’s. Saigon had just fallen, NYC was super seedy, and the unemployment rate for people of color was around 16%.




My mom, a girl of almost 17 walks into high school, a strange place, in a strange land, a Pan Am bag holding her books.

The bag ripped from her shoulders by some half-assimilated Dominican yelling ‘Pan Am! Pan Am! Miren a Pan Am!

And kicked her bag down the hall. His friends laughing as she chased it and cried.

The name stuck.

Pan Am.

This is my mom’s memory of high school. In a strange place. In a strange land.

Guava-Berry Coconut Cookies ---

My mom never quite assimilated. I was born and raised Dominican. Plátanos for breakfast and rice and beans for dinner.

A single mom who never ever spared the rod.


Plátanos for breakfast and rice and beans for dinner.

Old boleros and merengue played as the scent of Mistolin or King Pine scented the air on Saturday mornings.

Mami singing loud, zero fucks given, loud enough to be heard clearly in my friend’s fifth-floor bedroom. We lived on the first floor.

Not a word of English was spoken in our apartment. The TV blared with what was then known as Channel 41 or 47 and now known as Univision or Telemundo.

We shushed when Mirta de Perales peddled her products and dropped knowledge in five-minute increments. The apartment quiet as she showed us how to achieve long lustrous manes. Walter Mercado read the stars and told us how to live our lives.

My English wasn’t fluent until the second grade.

I had no desire to assimilate.

My heart was Dominican palm trees, the Malecon, and sand. My feet, however, were firmly planted in concrete.

I rocked an accent.

I spent my summers sticky with mango juice and color. So much color.

I’d come back from the Dominican Republic with fresh new Spanish curse words, fresh off the island merengue tunes, and parasites.

I listened to Spanish music when I should have been listening to Madonna or Lisa Lisa.

I spoke fluent Spanish in Dominican dialect.

I embraced a culture that as an American I was supposed to reject.




In time I lost my accent, worked on my grammar and diction.

Guava-Berry Coconut Cookies --

I worked until the words that belie my true Dominican roots are ‘decision’ or ‘position’, words that after 33 years I can’t pronounce without reciting them in my head first.

For a few years, I stopped thinking ‘Dominican’ because I was busy trying to assimilate, busy embracing American culture, clothing, lifestyle, and music. I was super proud of my blue American passport while viewing my mom’s red Dominican passport with…with… with the judgment reserved for someone who failed to assimilate.

I’m not proud of those years. I am not proud of poking fun at my mom’s super thick Dominican accent as she attempted to speak English. I hurt her. I took her back to those years with the Pan Am bag kicked down the hall. I was an asshole. I am not proud of rejecting who I was because the world around me forced me to change.

To adapt.

To assimilate.

And now? Well…

I still eat my platanos.

I still listen to my merengue.

Mango juice drips from my chin every summer.

I clean my house with Mistolin and King Pine. My voice is not as loud as mami’s.

Guava-Berry Coconut Cookies --

My body is a voluptuous wide-hipped small waist size 12.

I read up on my Dominican history. I dream of retiring there. I want to help reduce the crime that’s crippling my country.

I drink my rum.

I love my people.

I rep my land.

I embrace my Dominican roots. I have one foot firmly planted in Dominican sand, and one foot planted on concrete.

Guava-Berry Coconut Cookies --

Assimilating shouldn’t mean rejecting your roots, your sense of self, your culture. You don’t give up your sabor to fit into some other motherfucker’s mold.

Fuck a mold.

I live seamlessly between these worlds. American. Dominican. I am both.

These cookies. They’re an American cream cheese sugar cookie. A cookie I folded with sweetened flaked coconut and glazed with guava and strawberry – Guava-berry after one of my favorite Juan Luis Guerra songs.

You see, if this cookie with both American and Dominican roots can live as one, anyone can.

Strawberry Guava Cookies --
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