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People gathered around La Casa's dinner table

One of the challenges of living in the Northeast is the lack of homemade foods that I would usually enjoy in Los Angeles. Living in La Casa has become a way for me to recreate the food and moments I have missed so much. 

During my second year of college, homesickness kicked in and I grew to greatly dislike the food options at Dartmouth and the difficulty in cooking homemade meals. Having access to a kitchen was incredibly important to me which is why I decided to live in La Casa during the spring. La Casa is a Living Learning Community that focuses on providing "an academic, cultural, and social immersion for students interested in studying Spanish cultures and languages." It is a house that celebrates Hispanic, Latine, Latin American, Spanish, and Luso-Brazilian cultures and languages through sponsored events, conversations, panels, etc. It is considered a "language community" and there are several other types of houses that exist for identity-based, shared interests, or first-year communities.

One of my favorite things about living in this house is the opportunity to gather every Sunday for a meal cooked by one of the residents or friends of the house. This week it was my turn to cook something, and with the help of a friend, we fed about 14 people. I made tacos de tinga de pollo which consists of shredded chicken, tomato sauce with chipotle, and onions. These tacos were actually meant to be eaten with tostadas. However, I could not find any at our local grocery store, so we made do with what we had. We also cooked a vegetarian option which replaced the chicken with portobello and oyster mushrooms.  Then to ease the spiciness, we made an agua de horchata Oaxacan-style with cantaloupe and pecans. 

Person cooking cantaloupe into small cubes
My friend is cutting the cantaloupe into small cubes so we can add them to our agua de horchata!

BeReal post of two people making agua de horchata.
We could not miss out on posting a BeReal right as we were straining our agua de horchata.

Cooking in the kitchen was a great way for me relax over the chaotic week to come. Moreover, I was able to meet several people that were invited by the residents currently living in La Casa. Lots of conversations were held throughout the night, both during and after dinner, and I felt like I was able to witness several different connections taking place. At the end of the day, I was elated to have eaten a meal that reminded me so much of home and to witness how food helped the community-building that took place. 

(P.S. All of the food was covered by a weekly meal budget that Dartmouth provides us!)

La Casa's spice rack with more than 50 spices
These are some of the amazing spices and ingredients we have in La Casa which we are all able to use!

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