JASBETH MEDRANO |
University of Bristol
| Arts, Activism and Social Justice Summer School
| Bristol, United Kingdom
| Dallas, Texas
“Rajas con queso” was the first dish I learned from my grandmother on my dad’s side. She used to say that “a mis tíos los envenenan con las rajas” (you could poison my uncles with Rajas). It was such a simple meal that consisted of only vegetables and her famous cheese. While my version has become a bit gentrified because I just buy queso fresco from my local supermarket, I always think about how much better they would taste with her homemade cheese.
Looking back on it, it was quite amazing how she was able to create enough food to feed my 9 aunts and uncles on such a small budget. Both of my parents grew up in a small village with big families, meaning that my grandparents had to really stretch their food supply. My dad and uncles were piscadores de chiles (harvested peppers), so they got to keep any chiles anchos that fell off the truck. For this reason, my grandma knew quite a bit of recipes with chiles anchos.
However, this recipe holds a special place in my heart because it strengthened my connection to my culture and my family. To me, knowing how to make these delicious dishes created a new way for me to tell my parents how much I loved them. My dad is a picky eater in the sense that he will really only eat Mexican food. Knowing how to cook a meal both of my parents could enjoy meant that I could relieve their stress of needing to cook when they came home. This dish was a gateway to me feeling like I was contributing to the family. Since then, I have always made sure to keep our home clean and have food on the table when my parents got home.
Despite it being a bit taxing at times, my efforts and actions could never quite compare to everything they have done for me. I know what they left behind when they chose to migrate, and I know how hard they work to ensure my sister and I never have to worry about anything. To me, cooking is simply another way to tell them just how much they mean to me.