Latino culture

A to Z Challenge: R is for Rana and a Rhyme

Little tail of the frog. Photo by Jared Evans for

R is for Rana, a frog.

Anytime a kid in the neighborhood (under age 5) fell or got a cut his/her mother would rub or tap the area and sing this:

“Sana, sana, colita de rana,
y si no se cura ahorita, se cura mañana.”

In English, it’s confusing and doesn’t make sense.

“Healthy, healthy, little tail of a frog,
and if not cured now, cured tomorrow.”


As a kid, I wondered why the little tail of a frog was involved in a healing rhyme.

The frog tail portion may allude to folklore or tales of healing, involving a curandera’s (healer) use of “tail of frog,” or “eye of newt.”

The rhyme is not to be confused with this frog:

Not this frog. Photo by Jonathan Youssef for


I never thought to ask why my mom or aunts sang this song. I went with it and kept the song going with my own kids, puzzling another generation.

This rhyme is only for little kids. Once you hit five, if you fell, cut, or otherwise injured yourself you were expected to get up, dust yourself off, and keep going.

Latino culture, Mexican food

A to Z Challenge: P is for Pepino and Q is for …

This is all you need for a cool summer appetizer: Pepinos con chile

P is for Pepino, a cucumber.

You know how certain seasons have smells associated with them?

Some of these are Mexican food aromas like Christmas is chocolately champurrado and steaming green chile tamales.

Summer’s fragrances in the kitchen are the sweetness of watermelon and lemony taste of crisp cucumbers. Since pepinos are plentiful in the summer, they make for a cool dish on a hot day.

The recipe is super simple:

Peel and slice 2 cucumbers into circles or spears, arrange on a dish with edges

Squeeze a large lemon or two limes over the pepinos

Dust the top of the pepinos with chile powder or Tajin

Refrigerate if you want colder cucumbers.

Cucumber water accumulates at the bottom of the dish, you can mix this with cold water for a cucumber drink.

Another version is a cucumber salad. Slice the cucumbers and quarter them, put them in a bowl, add lemon/lime juice, a dash of salt, chopped cilantro, and diced tomato, red pepper flakes or Tajin. Chill.

Onto the letter Q. Q is for Que and Qué?

¿Qué….? in a question usually means What? Quiero saber qué es….. (indirect question)

¡Qué…..! in an exclamation usually means How….! or What a ….! (the accent on the e means one’s voice raises higher).

que (relative pronoun used to introduce a subordinate clause) usually means “that”, but can also mean whichwho or what depending on the context. (no stress over the e).

And if that’s not enough to remember, the slang phrase “Que qué?” means “Say what?!

¿Que qué?


See you mañana.

Latino culture, Latino family tradition, Mexican food, Mexican Vegan food

A to Z Challenge: O is for Olla

A variety of cooking pots, photo by Scott Umstattd for


I’ve passed the halfway mark of the A to Z Challenge. Yay me!

Today’s letter is O. O is for Olla.

An olla (hoy-ya) is a cooking pot. The pot can be any of the sizes above.

In my house, when Mom asked me to get her olla, the conversation was some version of this:

 “Small olla, big olla, the medium one?

“The one for the beans.” 

“Big olla then. Just say the olla for beans.”

“You’ve sat at that table cleaning beans for ten minutes, which other olla did you think?”

On a cold evening when Mom had more days in the week left before her next check, we feasted on frijoles de olla and hot tortillas.

The recipe is simple but not quick*:

1 lb. pinto beans, soaked for two hours. Rinse first.

6 cups water

2 garlic cloves

1 jalapeno

1/4 yellow onion

2 tablespoons salt

Combine all in a large olla, add the water. When it boils, cover and reduce flame to simmer. Check after an hour; salt to taste. When they’re soft they’re ready.

Cumin is also used but I hate the smell so no cumin in my recipe. Salt pork or bacon can be added.

If I’m making chile beans, like I am tonight, I add cooked soy chorizo, “beefless ground” (Trader Joe’s) and powdered New Mexican chile. The no meat recipe is for the vegans in my family.

The simple dish looks like this:

Frijoles de Olla, homestyle pinto beans. Photo by gailanng

Buen provecho! (Bon Appetit).


Here are a few A to Z Challenges that I’ve enjoyed reading:

For funny and weird French expressions see Evelyne’s blog.

Margo’s View: that little voice.

A blog of great DorkyMom doodles.

Short-short stories from Trina Balaka Looks Back.


Latino culture

A to Z Challenge: N is for Nina

parents awaiting baptism, photo by @gardient for


Today’s letter can be confusing. It’s an N which is short for a P word.

N is for Nina, which is the slang word for Godmother in Spanish; Nino is Godfather.

This is not to be confused with the word “niña,” where the tilde (~) over the ‘n’ means “little girl.”

The correct word for Godparents is Padrinos. (I know this further complicates the letter N).

It may be that a child can’t say the entire word “Padrin/a,” so he/she shortened it to “Nina” or “Nino.”

To be a godmother/godfather is to be chosen.

Parents of an infant, in the Catholic faith, chose a man and woman (who must also be Catholic by baptism) to preside over the upbringing of their infant if they die.

The main responsibility is to bring the child up as a Catholic. In effect, the padrinos are the spiritual parents. But, the ninas and ninos also partake in the baptismal ceremony and host the baptismal celebration.

If you’re Latina you aren’t necessarily Catholic, especially in the last thirty years, so this custom is no longer as popular as before.

So now, if you hear someone, under thirty years of age called Nina, it’s probably her birth name.