Growing up in a Hispanic family, a daughter of Mexican immigrants, I was excited when I learned culinary arts was the topic for this issue of Culture Clash. Food is the most common, simple form of social incentive for any type of celebration/gathering in my family. My family embraces the art of cooking from finding the freshest ingredients (even going off island to Houston area farmers markets) to sourcing those hard to find ingredients. Food is a feast for the eyes, your palate, and soul.
My mother is an incredible cook and often surprises our family with some spectacular dishes that also represent the richness and diversity of our family’s heritage. My mother’s maternal side also includes African American heritage. My mother’s maternal great grandparents, both African American immigrated to Mexico in the 1920’s where they settled in Tampico Madero, Tamaulipas. They married and had ten children and lived in Mexico all of their lives. While they lived there, they managed to hold on to their culture, their language, and their food while also simultaneously embracing Mexico’s culture. This particular way of cultural experience and co-existence made for some pretty amazing family traditions and recipes. Eventually some of the children made their way back to the US, which is where my family’s story begins. My mom blends in her soul cooking with Mexican traditional food.
Since I was a toddler, I remember waking up to the sounds, and smells of my mother, aunts and grandparents prep and spend hours on end preparing and cooking tamales as well as other typical dishes like pozole, sopes, tostadas, and guisos. Food in my family has always been a way to reunite us, allows us to remember and honor our heritage, gives an opportunity to celebrate our lives, remember the good times and forget about the bad times, and reconnect with our roots. A celebration of who we are, where we come from, and our beautiful struggle. The way my family celebrates our mixture of cultures is a clear representation of our complex yet beautiful family heritage. It brings me great joy and pride to learn about the love, passion, and even history behind many of my favorite family meals. Hopefully one day I can share some of my mother’s cooking.