Monthly Archives: March 2010

Me gustas…

10 things I really like these days (aside from spring, sunshine and longer days):

  1. Brightly colored tights and leggings (with short skirts and dresses, of course)
  2. Stacia’s essays on pre-motherhood
  3. Food Gawker, even if it is curiously lacking in photos of any Mexican or Latin American food. I was inspired to try a simple recipe for a lentil soup.
  4. Speaking of Mexican food, I’m still a big fan of Taza de Chocolate and her easy to follow recipes. I need to make mole al estilo zacatecano.
  5. Jordan! I’ve been sort of obsessed with my neighbor’s chubby toddler. Last year he ignored me when I’d say hello. Now he tells his mom that I’m his friend. He also calls me “pictures” because I was more than willing to indulge him and take pictures of his toy cars.
  6. Group photos and impromptu photo sessions with the cousins.
  7. Love and Rockets by los hermanos Hernández. I received three books of Jaime’s comics from Sean for Christmas and read through them faster than he expected.
  8. Watching Danny at work. He recently started culinary school. So far it’s fun to talk to him about his classes and even more fun to eat what he makes. Even the simple stuff looks pretty.
  9. Collaborating with Sean to make a bicoastal mixtape.
  10. PostBourgie has been one of my favorite blogs for a while now. Thus, I was more than a little geeked to learn that they’d be starting a podcast. They’re only four episodes in. You should check it out too.

Paper bagging it…

Perhaps I shouldn’t have read Gustavo’s article on the dearth of comida Zacatecana in LA.

Such diversity is a natural result of decades of Mexican migration, but there’s one glaring anomaly: Zacatecas’ culinary traditions are virtually invisible in local restaurants.

This quirk belies demography. The state is to modern-day Southern California what Iowa was for a previous generation of Angelenos: a place known for its work ethic and its conservative values, and for sending hundreds of thousands of its residents to our sunny wonderland.

Now I’m hungry. Not for queso añejo (which my siblings and I always called queso de pata/feet cheese), or even asado (which I don’t really like and have never had at a wedding), but for a torta de chorizo (which I can’t have today, anyway).

My family doesn’t have a quesero, but we do have a chorisero. Every few months, we’ll get a paper bag with some chorizo links. It’s the best chorizo I’ve ever had, not the crap you buy at the store. Last time I had one, a few days after Christmas, was to prove to my Papá Chepe that I do eat.

I wonder if Mamá Toni has made any of her gorditas de frijoles lately. Those would be yummy today. Or capirotada.

Damn. I hope Mamá Toni saves me some.

Girasoles

I came home to find these on top of my kitchen table. For a moment, I was confused. I wondered if the new roommate had bought them or if someone had given them to her. I neared the bouquet and noticed the small envelope. My name and address were written on it in neat handwriting.

I opened up the card to find a note written in the same neat handwriting.

See you tomorrow, FW.
Love,
[redacted]

I smiled. Super smiled even.

Papá Chepe’s stories

When I first signed up for StoryCorps Historias, I planned to take Papá Chepe, my 89 year old maternal grandfather.

I’ve always been a bit of a Grandpa’s girl. Papá Chepe and Mamá Toni sold their Boyle Heights home in the late 80s. They still had homes in Tijuana and El Cargadero, Zacatecas. However, when they were in LA, they stayed at my family’s home. Thus, I got to spend a lot of time with Papá Chepe and Mamá Toni growing up. I’m grateful for this as well as the opportunity to have learned more about my grandparents’ youth. I’ve interviewed both grandparents about their immigration stories, but this was the first time I recorded the stories.

In the interview, Papá Chepe speaks about being a feisty toddler, dating in 1920s Zacatecas, being a bracero and working in the lettuce fields of Salinas, coming to LA for the first time, his family and his proudest achievement. That would be donating his home in Tijuana to an orphanage. Oh yeah, he also tells the story of el blanquillo that I’ve always loved.

The entire interview is in Spanish. I apologize in advance for my pocha accent.

Historias de José Ureño

Unconditional

I watched as mom slipped on a pair of shoes and clipped a sponge curler into her bangs.

“Adrian’s taking me to the Hat. Ask him if you can go too,” she suggested.

I shook my head, “I already told Danny I’d go with him to 5:15 Mass. Besides, I just had some chili cheese fries from there last week. Do you know you can get tomatoes and pickles on them?”

“Really?”

I changed subjects as she put on a light jacket.

“Mom, how often do I ask you if you love me? Once a month? Every other month?”

She thought for a moment before answering. “Probably every other month.”

It sounded about right.

The questions started in high school after she brought home Mama, do you love me? from the kindergarten classroom where she worked as a teacher’s aide. The children’s book focuses on the unconditional love between mother and child.

The sweet story resonated with me and soon I found myself imitating the little girl in the book.

“Mama, do you love me?” (Or papa, I posed the question to him too.)

Mom would half-smile at me. “Of course, I love you.”

Dad would respond, “Yes, daughter-child. I love you.”

It wasn’t as if I’d never heard the words from them before this point. My parents are affectionate and honest. Mom would sneak a note in to the bags I packed for a week away at Girl Scout camp. Dad would remind us he loved and cared for us after a stern lecture.

Years later, I still ask. I want to hear the words. I often go days and weeks without seeing them. Thus, the words provide some of that warmth I miss from their hugs and home.

But I don’t need to hear “yes, Cindy, I love you” like I used to. Instead, I see it as I ask for help or support. They come through. Always. They’ve been doing it my whole life.