growing up mexican pt. 1 — mexicans & food

hi, internet-machine world! first things first … no, no iggy azalea lyrics here. as you may know, i lived in cd. juarez, chihuahua, until i was 11; then i moved to el paso, texas, and i’ve been here ever since. both my parents were born and raised in mexico, therefore their customs are what i grew up with for the most part.

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these customs may or may not be specific to the mexican culture, or even just the culture here in the borderlands, but i’m pretty sure some hispanics/latinos can relate to these things that made up growing up mexican for me. these are by no means official customs or realities that apply to every member of the culture. this was originally written as one humongous entry but i ended up with like 3,500 words, so i broke it up into a series for short-attention-span purposes. (i’m terrible at introductions … shut your unicorn face)

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growing up mexican is made up by infinite bits and tricolored pieces, but food is one of the most important aspects of mexican culture as a whole; not a lot of things can be compared to it. that’s why i’m starting off the series with some thoughts on mexicans and food. my mouth waters at the mere thought of tacos, enchiladas and flautas … triple yum. except caldo de res; i’ve despised caldo de res for as long as i can remember.

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there’s no guessing here, i’m a foodie. i love food because it will never stab me in the back and it will also never leave me. food is love. as a person of mexican descent, i praise y’all genius mexican ancestors for coming up with such amazeball-ness for the whole world to indulge on. put a plate of tacos in front of me and i will love you 5ever … well, i’ll probably love the tacos more than you (but that’s not the point, people!).

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for starters, you know you grew up mexican if you could just cross the street from home and there was an 89% chance that you could find a tiendita de la esquina (corner store). this was usually not an actual convenient store or a chain-name establishment but rather a house turned into a little store where you could find the basic necessities to avoid making a trip all the way to soriana, s*mart, supermercado gonzales or any other well-known supermarket in the city. for a mexican kid, these tienditas were the absolutely beloved pandora’s box of chucherías (junk food).

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you could credit your mid-childhood semi-obesity to having a nearby direct supplier of all your favorite flavors of sabritas, favorite kinds of galletas gamesa or those glass-bottle sodas you’d save to use for bartering for more sodas later on. these little stores were everywhere! therefore, making it super easy to attain whatever snack you wanted, whether you were a fan of sweets or a fan or spicy, crunchy stuff at a relatively cheap price.

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which leads me to sabritas themselves. to me, these were and still are life. the brand’s tagline is, “a que no puedes comer solo una;” to which i say damn fucking right, you just can’t eat only one. i’m mostly referring not being able to eat just one entire bag, rather than one chip alone as the tagline actually implies. if you don’t know what sabritas are, you need to stop what you’re doing right meow and drive over to the nearest us.-mexico border, get to the nearest available oxxo and buy yourself a bag of sabritas. sabritas’ american counterpart are lays but they hardly measure up to the mexican potato chips. like lays, sabritas has a wide assortment of chip flavors, textures and kinds … except far more delicious. (the taste isn’t the same; fight me).

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i literally owe my sudden weight-gain from ages 9–11 to sabritas alone. with all those flavors, how could i stop?! i mean we have the staples of the brand, then we also have the other kinds of equally delicious chips: rancheritos, doritos, ruffles, cheetos, churrumais, sabritones, etc. now i’m intensely craving sabritas right meow. let’s have a moment of silence for the short-lived, circa-2001 sabritas chamoy, otherwise known as the best-5ever flavor of chips known to man; none of that cappuccino-flavored shit here.

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it is all too common for moms to serve everybody’s plate with generous food portions for each person. once you sat down to eat, god forbid you didn’t finish all of your arroz or frijoles because you’d never get up from that dinner table. wasting food was completely and absolutely out of the question: “¡te quedas sentado hasta que te termines todo!” (you stay there until you finish all of your food!). my mom’s voice is in the back of my mind every single time i have a plate of food in front of me. this is why i live the fat life, my mom told me to finish all my food every time. (i love you, mom)

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it’s forever strange to eat from a plate without frijoles or rice because those are the main necessities of a plate of mexican food. home-made salsas are also a staple at my family’s table and so are chiles curtidos (pickled peppers). you know the only true struggle in life is that food is never spicy enough. it’s completely normal for my dad to ask for tortillas and chiles toreados at a non-mexican restaurant, right?

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three words: white corn over everything. elotes for life, man; no question about it. also, lime goes on everything; and i do mean everything. for all your poor unfortunate souls: lime = limon (green and badass); and lemon = lima (yellow and meh). you’re welcome. is there a support group for salsa valentina addicts? where can i sign up?

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visiting family equals eating in humongous proportions, until you passed out or rolled out of the chair into the couch. this happened at your mom’s house, your abuelita’s house, your tia’s house … and if you have a large number of relatives like i do, wave goodbye to a thin figure because there is no such thing here. so stop it with your being-thin chingaderas. abuelitas didn’t give a rat’s ass if you weren’t hungry, you were going to eat their food regardless. “¿tienes hambre, m’ijito? ¿no? toma, cómete esto. sí, está rico. ¡mira! siéntate aquí.”

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the phrase “no means no” doesn’t apply to food in a mexican family. you’re eating it and you know it. if there wasn’t any food at your relative’s house, don’t panic because i can assure you there’s a tiendita very near that you can walk to. ay, dios mio. to top it off, if you ate too much, you were a gorda/gordo (a fatty); if you didn’t eat enough, you were escuálida/escuálido (lanky). don’t even get me started on holiday eating … aka the reason why i attempt to watch what i eat during the rest of the year (or nahh…).  one of my favorite childhood memories involves making tamales from scratch at one of my tia’s house during the holidays along with my cousins. i’m pretty positive i ate more of the tamal dough before the tamales were actually ready. super delish and nutritious!

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this entry should’ve probably been titled “mexicans & food: a thesis” because i can go on about food 5ever. but i’ll finish off with mentioning the blasphemy that it was to say to your mother that you wanted pizza for dinner instead of what she cooked (this could be replaced with any other food attainable outside of the house at a restaurant or fast-food establishment) because you’d get some derivative of, “¿cuál picsa, cabron? ¡aquí en la casa hay comida!” as an answer. now i’m hungry … give me tacos, or give me death!

hasta luego, unicornangelfaces! ❤

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-v

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