I remember eating it hot, but liking it better cold when I came home from school. Cinnamon on top had to be added when hot and before skin had formed, or it wouldn’t stick.
There weren’t any other Puerto Ricans in my school, but growing up I didn’t know that maicena was a traditional breakfast porridge for hispano-hablantes around the world. I just thought it was something my mom invented, since we never even had it at any of my aunts’ houses. Their breakfasts, (though not their dinners, that is another story) were just as ‘normal’ American as everyone at school: Cocoa Pebbles, Froot Loops, white toast with grape jelly and Country Crock (I know, only in America).
After my first baby, I was tired and exhilarated by the round-the-clock life I now had. Mom helped. Soon after sunrise, she’d make a breakfast just for me, carry it to me in bed, and hold her first grandchild while I ate. I asked for maicena.
Years later, revelations. I was learning to make crème pâtissier in a class and it dawned on me: the loveliness of chilled maicena after school was the same cool, creamy custard filling the best èclairs and Bavarian donuts. My own daughter didn’t like this breakfast until she was in school and could eat it cold in the afternoon.
Time marches on. I wonder if Mom will ask me to make her maicena and bring it to her in bed someday…