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Profiles in Caribbean Parenting

Profiles in Caribbean Parenting: Chris De La Rosa of CaribbeanPot.com (Part 2)

Today we continue chatting with Chris De La Rosa of CaribbeanPot.com. Yesterday, we learned about how Chris began blogging, his daughters, and how he keeps them connected to Caribbean culture.  Now it is time for the stuff you've been waiting for.  Chris talks to us about tradition, race, discipline, and more. Leh we go!

(If you missed it, check out part one here.)

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Socamom: Right now, at our house, the major reminder that my kids have of their Caribbean roots is Grandma in the kitchen! What are some of the day to day influences that remind you and your children of your Caribbean roots?

Chris De La Rosa of CaribbeanPot.com  ::  SocaMom.com

Chris: Again, food plays a huge part. So top of my head would be the scents they wake up to on the weekend or the one which greets them after school. Music, be it soca, parang, zouk or reggae they are surrounded by the pulsating vibes from the Caribbean in the house and car. And as you move from room to room it our home, you’re engaged by a figurine, carving or picture on the wall, which not only signifies the Caribbean, but there’s usually a story behind it. [Such as] where in the Caribbean we purchased it, if a visiting relative brought it for us or not and in the case of the collection of miniature Caribbean type houses we have..  one is a parlour (corner store), something they know my mom (their grandma) had as a business when I was a kid on the islands.

The digital frame in the main family room is always on displaying pictures from our trips.. the latest being 2013 Trinidad Carnival.

Chris De La Rosa and his daughters at Carnival

Chris De La Rosa and his daughters at Carnival - Photo Credit: Chris De La Rosa

Socamom:What are some of the Caribbean traditions that you miss the most that you would like to share with your children?

Christmas... you’ve not experience[d] Christmas until you awake Christmas morning in the Caribbean. The overall joyful spirit, the aromas and the waves of family and friends visiting and making your way from house to house with the captivating sounds of parang as your guide.

Socamom:Christmas is definitely one of my favorite memories of visiting Trinidad when I was a teenager.  What are some of your kids' favorite things about being from the Caribbean?

Chris: At their age, it’s always nice to see the pride in them when they find out a celebrity is from the Caribbean..  Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, even the guy from “Lost”, Henry Ian Cusick, who went to school in Trinidad as a youth. I guess the new one causing a stir would be Trinidad James?

With their first Carnival under their belts, they have a new appreciation for Machel, Bunji, Patrice and Blaxx. If only I can get them to listen to some Kitch, Rudder and Sparrow.

I’m a huge Phase II fan, so steel pan is starting to rub off on them too.

They will always get excited for the food of the Caribbean, especially Trinidad and Tobago and when it’s grandmas cooking. I’m forced to take the back seat when she’s visiting. When we travel we always book the family suite with the kitchen so I can make them “home” food, as they scream for Caribbean flavours after 3 days of resort or hotel food. The funniest thing for them was buying ‘stewed chicken’ (Trinbago style) at a Chinese restaurant in St Maarten a few years back.

Back when they just started school, I recall my parents would always bring school supplies for them from Trinidad. Like, West Indian Readers, the iconic alphabet chart and even things as obscure as the exercise books [copy book]. And now that they’re grown, they look back with excitement when we speak about those things.

Socamom:What are some Caribbean sayings that you find yourself using with your children that you heard growing up? Feel free to use patois, but include translations.

Chris: “Waste Not Want Not”... I always thought our mom coined this phrase.  I grew up in a home where wasting was not an option and I try to pass that on to our girls. From my days working in the catering industry to everyday Canadian life, I see too much wasting and it drives me crazy.

Socamom: Do you think you would be a different parent if you were raising your children in the Caribbean versus Canada? What would you do differently?

Chris: My wife is Canadian, so her parenting techniques, which I assume she adopted from her parents, are different to the “West Indian” way. I’ll be honest and say it’s been a struggle to find a balance where both parents are happy with the direction of parenting. I see Canadian kids having a lot of freedom to express themselves, but a lot of that freedom is misguided. We’re lucky that we’ve got the same set of values, so we’ve had a good base to work from.  We became parents in our teenage years, but it’s been 20+ years and we’re still going strong.

Chris from CaribbeanPot.com with his wife at Carnival  ::  Socamom.com

Chris De La Rosa and his wife at Carnival - Photo Credit: Chris De La Rosa

Chris: I’ll say this... mixed race and mixed culture, and you add religion to the mix and you’ll have a lifetime of learning, compromising and appreciation.

If our daughters were raised in the Caribbean there would definitely be a different approach to discipline, taking ownership of one’s actions and punishment.

Socamom: Describe the kind of children that you hope that your unique mix of parenting styles will create.

Chris: We already see traits of this in our eldest daughter, Kieana. She’s very kind, giving and has that true ‘welcoming’ Caribbean spirit. Though we may be known as the life of the party and have a relaxed demeanor, in reality you won’t find a more hard-working people and I see this in all 3 of our girls (they’re coming out of the lazy teenage years).

Socamom: Have the uniquely Caribbean aspects of your own upbringing made you a better parent? How?

Chris: Definitely. I have a better appreciation for “family” as a cohesive unit, where we stand together to overcome all obstacles. We’re known as a people who are welcoming and giving in the Caribbean and if you were to poll any of our daughters friends, they would tell you that our home is very comforting to them and they enjoy our company. Not as friends, but as parents they can rely on.

Chris De La Rosa on Caribbean Parenting in his interview with Eva Greene-Wilson of Socamom.com

Socamom: What advice do you have for parents who want to connect their children with Caribbean culture?

Chris: Don’t force anything onto your children. Let them see you read the Caribbean literature, let them hear you listening to the music or social commentary, watch the cultural videos when you know they’re within reach and have that wonderful Caribbean bouquet of flavors in all its vibrant glory in your kitchen. The rest will follow.  Subtle things like artwork on your walls will also help them relate to a culture they may be currently detached from.

When our girls were younger I would take them to the library and just about every weekend we would go to the book stores to get reading material for them. It drove me crazy when I never saw them read and as I look at the bottom shelf of my library I can see books which were probably never opened. The fact remains.. they never saw me with a book in hand reading. What type of example was I setting for them?  Children are master copy-cats!

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(If you missed it, check out part one of our chat with Chris De La Rosa - click here.)

Don't forget to check out thewebsite, CaribbeanPot.com.

Social Media: @obzokee on TwitterFacebook | YouTube

About Chris:

Chris De La Rosa’s love of Caribbean cooking has taken him from a small village in Trinidad and Tobago to millions of kitchens around the world, thanks to his website CaribbeanPot.com. Launched in 2009 as a place for the self-taught chef to share his favourite Caribbean dishes and document family recipes for his daughters, the site, which has more than 385,000 page views a month, has grown to include a Facebook page of 27,000 fans, a newsletter with 24,000 subscribers and a Youtube channel that has amassed about 4.6 million views.

The Vibrant Caribbean Pot - by Chris De La Rosa

From the time Chris was just five-years-old, he was already comfortable in the kitchen, thanks to his mother’s insistence that he partake in daily chores such as picking fresh herbs from the family garden. Gathering cooking tips from other family members along the way, Chris was well equipped, by the time he moved to Canada in 1989, to fend for himself among the pots and pans. Not limited to Caribbean cooking, Chris also mastered North American fare such as barbecue. However, his heart belonged to the Caribbean recipes on which he was raised.

Click here to read Chris De La Rosa's FULL BIO.

Website: http://caribbeanpot.com/

Book: http://caribbeanpot.com/book/

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Download the Caribbean Parenting Month Press Release here: icon Caribbean American Blogger, Eva Greene-Wilson Kicks off Caribbean Parenting Month, April 2013 (99.71 kB)

Add a comment
Author Profile: Eva Wilson  - Website

Eva the author of Anancy's Family Reunion, and the winner of the 2012 Black Weblog Awards for Best Parenting Blog and Best New Blog. Find her on Twitter at @socamomdc.

Profiles in Caribbean Parenting: Chris De La Rosa of CaribbeanPot.com (Part 1)

April is Caribbean Parenting Month! Starting this month, we will be publishing stories and interviews of Caribbean parents and their children.  They will share who they are, how they keep their kids connected to Caribbean culture, how being of Caribbean descent has affected their lives, and the how it has impacted the lives of their children. The goal of this series, and many of the other goodies we have in store for you this month, is to inspire to you introduce, or continue to expose your children to Caribbean culture.

To kick it off, we will start our series, "Profiles in Caribbean Parenting", with Trinidadian Canadian Chris De La Rosa of CaribbeanPot.com.

Chris De La Rosa of CaribbeanPot.com

Photo provided by Chris De La Rosa

It was SO hard to keep this interview under wraps!  CaribbeanPot.com is my mom's favorite website (next to SocaMom.com of course) so keeping it from her might have been the hardest.  As she went on about his herb garden yesterday, I broke and told her the interview was coming, but that was it.  It was only a tiny hint, right?

Chris De La Rosa's following of loyal Caribbean food lovers speaks for itself.  This author, entreprenuer, and Caribbean culinary guru is challenging how we think about Caribbean cooking. Spreading his love for Caribbean food using social media, his YouTube videos have received over 4.5 million views and counting, and his Facebook fan base rivals that of prestigious corporations, and pop stars.  The joy he gets from his kids and his work shows throughout this two part interview. (Read Part Two here.)

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Socamom:For many of us who blog, or run a website, it isn't our full time job.  What is your occupation and how long have you been in that line of work?  What made you choose it?

Chris:I’m an Internet Marketing Consultant by trade, which means I’ve been working from home, or anywhere I can get an internet connection, the past 15 yrs. The joke is we’ve never had to pay for baby sitting or day care for our three girls. When my wife went back to university and started working full time, 12 hour shifts, I was always home. I quickly learned to braid our daughters' hair.

The past 2 years have seen me make a transition to something I’m very passionate about – food and the culinary culture of the Caribbean. I anticipate that within the next 6 months I would be fully transformed into an internet chef.  I worked from home when it was in its infancy and I think I’m breaking new ground by being a full time internet chef.

I chose Marketing Consulting as I was very intrigued by the newness of the internet back then. I still remember the screeching sounds from the modem connecting back in the day. The internet Chef thing came naturally and to be quite honest it does not feel like a JOB! So I’m having a ton of fun. I’m probably the only chef who cooks for over 1/3 million people a month and they’ve never tasted my food.

Socamom: Your fans probably speculate about what you do all day, but tell us, what is your typical day REALLY like? What about your daily routine do you believe that people would find the most unusual?

Chris: Most unusual? The fact that I make my own schedule since I work from home, yet I’m up at 5 am every morning, even weekends, as if I have a traditional 9 to 5 job.

I’ll give you a glimpse into the first 4 hours of my day...  start the computer and get freshened up while my tea steeps. While I enjoy my morning cup I scan through my websites, then the news sites and finally the social media fix. Then it would be time to drive my wife to work or go get her from a night shift. When I get back its time to wake our girls for school, which is always a battle, make them lunch and referee their daily fights for clothes (who took what from who). After driving them, it’s time for another cup of tea, then work starts. If it’s a day I’m filming and documenting a recipe for the website, I take about an hour to plan out the recipe itself and how I’ll stage the recording. Somewhere in there I find time to answer emails and touch base with my assistant who lives in the Philippines.

Socamom: So you have the job of fashion referee as well! I just have one girl, so I don't have that.  How many girls do you have and how old are they?

Chris: We have three girls, who are 16, 18 and 19.

Socamom:I find myself thinking about my kids' personalities whenever I am making decisions for them, like where to go, and even what to eat.  How would you describe your girls?

Chris: India is 16. [I would describe her as] impatient, loving, [and] devoted.  Tehya is 18. [I would describe her as] independent, zealous, and inquisitive. Kieana is 19. [I would describe her as] benevolent, assiduous, and charitable.

Chris De La Rosa and his daughters at Carnival

Chris De La Rosa and his daughters at Carnival - Photo Credit: Chris De La Rosa

SocaMom: What are some of the most creative methods that you have used to keep your children connected to Caribbean culture?

Chris: Food! Not just doing a recipe with them, but taking them out to shop for ingredients. The shopping trip always include how to shop, so I explain how to touch, smell and ‘look’ at the ingredients…  at the same time consider how you’ll prepare it. Which ingredient will complement each other and the shelf life of the ingredients so they know how long they have to get the dish prepared before the ingredient goes bad.  Ingredients which may seem exotic and intimidating for most North Americans, our girls are very comfortable handling and choosing the perfect fruit or vegetable. Another game we play when we dine out (Caribbean type meals) is if something is not perfect, we get them to suggest to us how the dish could be improved or what is missing. They’re very good at identifying flavours and can even spot errors when I cook [That doesn't] happen too often.

It’s also amazing to see when they can identify which region of the world has influenced the Caribbean dish we put together. So not only are they leaning about the foods of the Caribbean, the ingredients used, but the history of the dish itself.

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Join us for part two of our chat with Chris De La Rosa of CaribbeanPot.com - Click here! In the meantime, check him out on his website, CaribbeanPot.com.

Social Media: @obzokee on TwitterFacebook | YouTube

About Chris:

Chris De La Rosa’s love of Caribbean cooking has taken him from a small village in Trinidad and Tobago to millions of kitchens around the world, thanks to his website CaribbeanPot.com. Launched in 2009 as a place for the self-taught chef to share his favourite Caribbean dishes and document family recipes for his daughters, the site, which has more than 385,000 page views a month, has grown to include a Facebook page of 27,000 fans, a newsletter with 24,000 subscribers and a Youtube channel that has amassed about 4.6 million views.

The Vibrant Caribbean Pot - by Chris De La Rosa

From the time Chris was just five-years-old, he was already comfortable in the kitchen, thanks to his mother’s insistence that he partake in daily chores such as picking fresh herbs from the family garden. Gathering cooking tips from other family members along the way, Chris was well equipped, by the time he moved to Canada in 1989, to fend for himself among the pots and pans. Not limited to Caribbean cooking, Chris also mastered North American fare such as barbecue. However, his heart belonged to the Caribbean recipes on which he was raised.

Click here to read Chris De La Rosa's FULL BIO.

Website: http://caribbeanpot.com/

Book: http://caribbeanpot.com/book/

--------

Download the Caribbean Parenting Month Press Release here: icon Caribbean American Blogger, Eva Greene-Wilson Kicks off Caribbean Parenting Month, April 2013 (99.71 kB)

Add a comment
Author Profile: Eva Wilson  - Website

Eva the author of Anancy's Family Reunion, and the winner of the 2012 Black Weblog Awards for Best Parenting Blog and Best New Blog. Find her on Twitter at @socamomdc.

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