Can I confess something to you?
I really want to be an abuelita some day.
(It’s Spanish for “little grandmother,” in case you were wondering.)
Don’t go jumping to any strange conclusions about my gender self-identification though! I have no desire to actually become an elderly latino grandma; I just want to be able to cook like one.
Actually, I blame it on the artwork that you see hanging all over the place in most Mexican restaurants.
It doesn’t matter which restaurant you go to, they all seem to have some variation of the same colorful painting — depicting this idyllic little scene of a quiet Mexican homestead out in the middle of the desert.
Of course the painting shows all sorts of cactus and yucca and stuff like that, but it also seems like there’s always a spindly tree or two casting a little bit of dappled shade on the old adobe house. Sometimes there’s a tired grey burro tied to the hitching post. They usually have a couple chickens scratching around in the dirt. There may even be a guy wearing a big sombrero taking a little siesta in the shade…
Y’know the painting I’m talking about?
Every time I see one of those paintings, I can’t help but think about the abuelita inside the old adobe cottage. You don’t usually see her in the painting itself, but you know she’s in there, cooking up a storm. (An incredibly delicious storm!)
She’s probably busy rolling out a batch of homemade flour tortillas, while a pot of refried beans simmers on the old wood stove.
At the drop of a hat, she can whoop out a batch of fresh salsa or seasoned rice that’ll knock your socks off! Tacos, burritos, fajitas, quesadillas, enchiladas, juevos rancheros, molcajete — even tamales and mole are part of her repertoire. Heck, she probably even milks the cow and makes her own queso fresco while she’s at it!
She’s got a string of dried chili peppers hanging from one of the rafters, right next to the braided garlic — and all of her produce comes from her hand-watered garden.
When you show up for just a friendly visit, she’ll meet you at the door with a big old crinkly smile — and then, in a very “no nonsense” sort of way, she’ll sit you down at the sturdy wooden table and stuff you so full of delicious food that you won’t want to even think about eating again for at least a week!
Yep, that’s the sort of abuelita I want to be…
It’s a work in progress though.
As much as I enjoy experimenting with food, learning to cook like an abuelita is gonna take awhile. She didn’t master it all at once, and neither will I. Fortunately, it doesn’t hurt to dream!
I just gotta take it one day at a time…
On a related note, I’m making homemade tortillas tonight (we’re gonna have bacon, egg, and zucchini burritos for dinner) — if you want some, you better come over while they’re still hot! 😉