My name is María. I want to tell you about two people who’ve made an impact on my life. One of them is my mom because she was a very strong person. She was left widowed, had eight kids and one thing I remember about my mom is how she was always working from six in the morning to six at night. We had very little opportunity to see her. We were a poor family and what I learned from my mom is that poverty isn’t as important as being generous, and being happy with what life gives you.
I remember one (out of many) Christmas where everybody had a little tree and their presents and my brothers and I were waiting for my mom to come home. I remember that day she came home at almost 10 at night with all these bags full of food. It was a beautiful Christmas! She set about buying chicken, made a salad, made us some sopa; she bought us a small piñata and also made us some punch. That same day we gathered some branches and decorated them as though it was our little Christmas tree. That is a Christmas I will never forget. That is why I admire my mother.
The other person I admire a lot is my grandmother because I think my mom followed her example, well, they taught us to always help others. I remember my grandmother was strong. It was difficult for her to show her feelings since she had participated in the revolution. She had fifteen kids. Of those, most died of hunger and she was left with four. My grandmother was very charitable. She would take off her coat to give to someone and for that reason she was an example, they were examples for me to follow. I remember one time my grandmother, she’s from Puebla, I remember that she would make mole; Mole Poblano (a special dish from the Mexican state of Puebla). She made it very delicious.
I loved the smell when she toasted the chiles, the sesame seeds, the chocolate, the tortilla, the bread. I grew up with that image of my grandmother. When I was older, I tried to make that mole. I remember I had all of the ingredients but it didn’t come out the same.
“I told her once, “Hey, grandmother, I’m following all your directions,” I said, “but it doesn’t taste like yours.”
“It’s a family secret,” she said.
“Yes, but what is your secret? I’ve put everything you’ve told me in it,” I said.”
“When you go into the kitchen you must not be upset. You should do everything with joy, do all of your cooking with joy – feel it. What your cooking needs is for you to add a pinch of love to all of your food, so it comes out tasting well,” she said.
So, I carry this memory and every time I cook, I add a little pinch of love and everything now turns out delicious.
Storyteller María Jimenez attended the workshop Lideres Campesinas: sembrando el futuro in Greenfield, California.