Taylor Cruz of Amherst has always wanted to be a princess.
As a young girl, she admired the princesses who represented their ethnic roots at the Lorain International Festival and she hoped that someday she would be able to do the same.
At this past weekend’s festival, her dream came true.
Though she’s never traveled to Puerto Rico, Cruz says she feels closest to her heritage when she listens to Spanish music, spends time with her family, and eats her favorite native foods — rice, beans, and pernil, a slow-roasted marinated pork shoulder.
“My grandma always loads so much food onto my plate. She never lets any of the us get our own food,” Cruz said. “She always piles it on and says, ‘Want more rice? Need more rice?’”
In Puerto Rico, pernil is commonly shared during Christmas time, which Cruz said is always spent by throwing a huge party that lasts until 5 a.m. It is a lively celebration filled with music, home-cooked food, and an abundance of gifts, which highlights her family’s giving nature.
“Even if we don’t have much, we try to give as much as we can,” she said.
Also from Amherst was princess Angela LaRosa, who represented Italy at the International Festival. She could not be reached for comment.
Laurie Hamame can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @HamameNews on Twitter.