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As we celebrate the 4th of July this year, I find myself reflecting on what it means to be American in 2024. Growing up with an immigrant parent, I have always celebrated my Colombian-American melting pot of culture. I believe in honoring and sharing our diverse backgrounds, which is the true essence of what the United States was built on.

One of the best examples of this cultural blending is the Americanized version of tacos. Now, don’t get me wrong, mamas—I am the number one supporter of authentic Mexican tacos. I deeply value the simplicity of the ingredients and the ancient techniques that perfect the complex flavors of Mexican cuisine. However, growing up in New Jersey with the last name Andersen, my childhood experience with tacos was a bit different.

In my childhood, tacos meant Mission flour tortillas, ground beef flavored with seasoning from a package, and shredded “Mexican-style” cheese. While these tacos might not win any culinary awards or be celebrated globally, they hold a special place in my heart. They represent the cozy, nostalgic meals that I grew up with—meals that were easy to throw together after work, fed a lot of people, and were affordable.

Now that I am a mother, I find myself romanticizing these simple meals that, while Mexican-inspired, are 100% American. I take pride in creating meals that will shape my child’s memories, just as my parents did for me. These tacos are a staple in many American homes because they are quick, easy, and cheap to make, and they bring people together around the dinner table.

This 4th of July, I feel especially patriotic as I reflect on my simple American childhood. I celebrate the blend of cultures that make up this country, and I take pride in the meals that are a part of our shared heritage. So here’s to our melting pot of cultures and the everyday meals that bring us comfort and joy. Happy 4th of July, everyone!

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