Santa Fe College Oriana Diaz Moffa photographed for the Saints of Santa Fe College Series in Gainesville, FL. (Photo by Matt Stamey / Santa Fe College)
“My parents always wanted a better future for me and my sister. We were already looking for opportunities in Florida, but it wasn’t until my parents heard about the ELI (English Language Institute) at the University of Florida through a radio spot that my parents knew it would be a better option. They responded to the ad and were given assistance with information on costs, obtaining an F1 visa, and living in Gainesville; During that call, Santa Fe College was mentioned as being near UF. SF was cited as a good option for the school to keep costs down after completing the ELI program. That radio commercial was the first time I heard about Gainesville. Before that, I didn’t know anything about the US, just Disney. But when I got there, I knew Gainesville would be so much more!
Before the ELI program, I knew the basics of English grammar, but it was the speaking, the conversational part that I needed to practice with, mostly because as a Latina, our accents can be very strong and I was always working to improve on it. I admit that I now enjoy it very much when US citizens ask me: “Are you not from here?” The answer is: “No, I come from the most beautiful country I have and will ever visit: Venezuela .
I didn’t come here to make people sad about Venezuela, I just want to raise awareness; opening their eyes and helping them see what is not shown and not believe everything they hear. Venezuelan culture is fun and cool. It’s a very warm country in terms of people. They make you feel welcome anywhere, it is common for them to treat you like you have been friends all your life.
The food is rich in taste and soul. Unfortunately when I came to the US, most of the food I ate was artificial, anything but homemade. I miss my mother’s food. There’s this lasagna that we’re making a little differently. It’s not called lasagna, it’s called pasticho. It’s like a pasta cake, a pasta cake with meat and bechamel sauce, it’s like an alfredo sauce. We combined that with a meat and it tastes so much better than just marinara sauce. Some people will add sweet plantains to the recipe (recipe below).
It can be difficult to be away from my home country and family, but I have had people at SF who have helped guide me along the way.
Dr. Kalpana Swamy, my advisor held my hand and comforted me through challenging times, as a family-oriented Latina I needed this connection!
I was always amazed at the greetings from Dr. Dan Rodkin, Associate Vice President of Student Affiars, the few times we met he always remembered my name and major from thousands of students. This little gesture makes me feel like I am memorable and important, not just another international student.
Angelica Suarez gave me my first job and opened my eyes to qualities I didn’t know I had like organization, leadership, a strong self, creativity and work ethic.
These and many others influenced my success here in the US and made it possible for me to stay here. As far as my professional life is concerned, I’m still thinking about what exactly I want to do. I tend to work for HR and / or own a small family clinic that is (financially) accessible to international students and immigrants.
Most of all, I strive to be a happy, successful, and accomplished woman. I believe Thar regardless of what I choose to do, be an administrator, a manager, a nurse, a consultant, a stylist, a teacher, a mother, a woman … I will strive to be happy and yours Develop an effect. ”
Oriana Diaz Moffa, SF Business Administration student
Yiyi’s Pasticho aka Venuzuelan Lasagne
Lasagna is originally from Italy. However, we’ve made some changes to the recipe, which is why we’re looking at Venezuelan; especially since the name is different. In Venezuela every pasticho is different, that’s my mother’s version.
Warning: I’ve done my best to add measurements, but in my family we boil everything down to “eye percent”; That is, we add ingredients until we love the taste; We don’t have a specific amount to add of each ingredient.
For the bechamel sauce
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/2 cup of flour
- 4 1/2 cups of milk
- Salt and pepper to taste
- grated nutmeg to taste
- Ham cut into small squares
- Add parmesan or mozzarella (optional)
For the pasta
- 1-2 boxes of Barilla Lasagne Pasta. It all depends on how much pastiche you want to make. (It says no pre-cooking is required, but my family does it anyway)
For the beef (everything cut is small square pieces)
- 2 pounds of ground beef
- Red and / or yellow peppers (approx. 1-2)
- 2-3 stalks of celery
- 1-2 leeks
- Spring onions (approx. 4)
- 1 yellow onion
- Paprika (approx. 4-5)
- 4 pounds of Roma tomatoes
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2-3 cloves of garlic
- Oregano to taste
- Thyme to taste
- 1 tbsp rosemary
- 1-2 bay leaves (do not cut). * My family does not eat these leaves, but they are edible. We take them out of the bowl after cooking.
Now the fun part! preparation
For the bechamel sauce
- Step 1 – Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. After melting, stir in the flour until smooth. Keep stirring while the flour cooks to a light, golden, sandy color for about 7 minutes.
- step 2 – Increase the heat to medium-high and slowly stir in the milk until the roux has thickened it. Simmer gently, then reduce the heat to medium to low and continue to simmer until the flour is soft and no longer tastes grainy, 10 to 20 minutes, then season with salt and nutmeg.
For the beef
- Before adding the beef to the pot, sauté the onions with the garlic until the onions are almost transparent. Don’t let the garlic burn.
- Add the beef with the bay leaves and rosemary and stir until cooked through
- Add the leeks, spring onions and celery. Stir and cook for about 10 minutes
- Then add the peppers with the peppers. Stir and cook for about 10 minutes
- Add the tomatoes, stir and cook for a while until the water in the tomatoes is almost completely dry. We don’t want a liquid sauce. Each piece of pasticho should be like a piece of cake: firm or semi-firm.
- Now you can add all the seasonings: salt and pepper, thyme, oregano, and any other seasonings you want to add.
Build the pastisho. of the Yiyi together
- Once the beef is done, mix the bechamel sauce with the beef.
- Place a layer of pasta on the bottom of the glass or aluminum pan
- Then a layer of beef with the bechamel sauce
- Add parmesan cheese or the cheese of your choice (preferably salty cheese)
- Repeat 2-4 in this order until you reach the top of the pan
- The final layer should be the beef with bechamel sauce and tons of cheese. It needs to be a thick layer of cheese so that when you bake the cheese layer is hard enough to hold the beef and sauce underneath together.
- Preheat the oven to 400F in baking mode
- Let the pastito grate until the cheese is golden in color. Usually it takes about 15-20 minutes.
- Eat and enjoy now!