Mothers and daughters. So much cooking tradition—not to mention family lore—is passed down from one generation to the next by women working together in the family kitchen. The cooks who took part in Hola Cultura’s TamalFest DC last month shared plenty of these heart-warming recollections. There were a few stirring tales of sons and mothers, grandmothers or entire extended families too. The common denominators: food and family.
The women behind Pura Vida Catering, however, have a slightly different story. While it’s true that both Maria Rivera and Keylah Garcia learned how to cook from their mothers, they owe their cooking careers to another family member: Maria’s son Esteban.
Garcia started helping Rivera out in the kitchen after she began dating Esteban. Four years later, they have a thriving catering business specializing in traditional Costa Rican cooking for public functions and private parties throughout the Washington area.
“Guatemalan food is very similar to Costa Rican food, so after I met them, it didn’t take me much time to learn how to make the few dishes that are different,” Garcia says. “And it’s not just a job I have to do, it’s something I like doing.”
That’s another thing they have in common: a love of cooking. “At first her rice never came out quite right. Lots of people can’t make good rice. But now she makes it almost exactly like mine,” Rivera says of Garcia. They hope to open a restaurant one day. If you missed them at Hola Cultura’s TamalFest DC, or are just hankering for more, you can catch them tomorrow, Sat., May 2, at the Embassy of Costa Rica during the daylong Passport DC festivities. The diplomatic outposts of dozens of other countries are also opening their doors tomorrow including Ecuador, Guatemala, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Peru, Venzuela. here’s a map of participating embassies.
Watch our interview in Spanish
Pura Vida Catering’s Facebook page is here.