Winner of The El Barrio Today Photo Contest: Cuchifrito!
December 20, 2010, New York City:
Saturday night I had the wonderful experience of attending El Super Sabado at El Museo del Barrio with my family and our friends, a few walking blocks from where we live at the top of Museum Mile in Manhattan. It proved to be a very special evening, because, to my great surprise, my photograph was awarded third prize for the El Barrio Today photo contest.
The honor was quite ironic, because at first we almost did not get into the celebration, as they were filled to capacity and were not allowing anyone else in to the museum.
In addition to the photo contest, El Museo del Barrio was co-hosting the 9th Annual Best Coquito contest with The International Coquito Federation. Coquito is a Puerto Rican holiday tradition, a yummy and creamy tropical coconut eggnog made with spices and white rum. The public was invited to taste the recipes of the ten winners of the month-long Coquito Master Qualifier Series 2010, and asked to vote for the best Coquito. The winners would be announced on stage along with the photography winners. All the attendees who made it into the museum, were treated to entertainment by comedian Victor Cruz and music by El Trío New York.
I knew of the celebration because I had been informed that I was one of the 25 semi-finalists out of 500 entrees, and thus I had been invited to attend. We were also promised reserved seating during the show and award announcements.
Thus, when we arrived, I told them I was one of the “photographers.” Big mistake, because the lady at the door adamantly told us, “Sorry, no more people will be allowed in.” I was both confused and surprised. “But I’m on the list,” I told her, “I’m one of the ‘photographers.’” Alas, she did not budge.
I then began citing the names of the people that invited me and I even pulled the press card on her. Nothing worked.
Eventually, Ines, who was better informed, came to our rescue and they let us in. Apparently, they thought that I was only la prensa, the press, not realizing I was also a semi-finalist.
Ultimately, we got our preferred seating.
And although I thoroughly enjoyed the comedy and the music, by the time the music began, the five kids we had amongst us, were getting restless, bored and hungry. Thus, I suggested that we leave after “the next song,” fully believing that my photo had no chance of winning.
However, while we were looking at the photos on display right before our departure, Ines came running up to me and said with a distraught look on her face, “¿A donde vas? Where are you going?” “Home,” I answered, explaining, “Tienen aburido, the kids are bored.”
She then responded, practically pleading, “But you won third place!” “Really?” I responded in utter amazement. “Yes,” she said, adding, “So, you have to stay.”
Everyone was happy for me and we agreed to stay for the winners’ ceremony.
Here is the original photo: Cuchifrito!
Cuchifritos (koo-chee-free-tohs) refers to various fried foods prepared principally of pork, in Puerto Rican cuisine. They include a variety of dishes including but not limited to morcilla (blood sausage), papas rellenas (fried potato balls stuffed with meat), chicharron (fried pork skin), and various other parts of the pig prepared in different ways. The term originally referred to small, fried parts of a pig. It derives its name from the word "cuchí" short for "cochino" or pig and "frito" which describes something that is fried. "Cuchifritos" may also be used to refer to restaurants that serve this type of food.
In New York City, vendors advertising cuchifritos are particularly notable because they tend to make use of colorful external lighting and big flashy signs that quickly catch the eyes of passersby. These establishments have dotted the Puerto Rican and Dominican areas of New York City for the past fifty years, particularly Hamilton Heights, Washington Heights, South Bronx, Brooklyn, and other primarily Puerto Rican and Dominican neighborhoods. (Source: Wikipedia: Cuchifritos)
About El Museo:
El Museo del Barrio is New York’s premier Latino cultural institution, representing the diversity of art and culture of the Caribbean and Latin America. As one of the leading Latino museums in the nation, El Museo is a major stop on Manhattan’s Museum Mile as well as a cornerstone of El Barrio, the Spanish-speaking neighborhood of East Harlem.
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