My grandmother was the one who taught me how to cook at a very young age. She would always stress over the importance of knowing how to cook. At first she would always have me in the kitchen just to watch her as she would cook and to hand her the ingredients or whatever it was that she needed. As I got a bit older and more comfortable in the kitchen she would have me do the little things from stirring the pot to mixing all the ingredients together. Once I turned twelve years old I was able to actually get my hands dirty and cook in the kitchen under her supervision of course. I enjoyed myself and the small dishes that I would make, I would cook enchiladas and mini desserts like flan and tres leches cake.
My grandma is an early bird, especially when she has things to do. She woke me up one morning and said, “mija get up brush your teeth and let’s go to the grocery store, you are gonna help me today”. I was half asleep and I remember gruntly replying to her, “grandma I do not want to get up and go with you, just go and I will help you cook when you get up.” She suddenly grabbed the blankets and pulled them off of me. All I could feel was the cold crisp air that was coming in from the half broken window, I jumped up and threw on my slippers and left. When we got to the grocery store she handed me a yellow paper and in broken english she said, “read it to me as we go’’. As I started to read the ingredients off to her I noticed that I had no idea what we were going to make. I asked, “ grandma what are we going to cook ?” she said “I am going to teach you how to make something that my mom passed down to me.” I grinned in pleasure because I knew exactly what we were going to make … Tamales ! She started to explain to me why it was important to her for me to come and help her with buying the ingredients, she said that the first step to knowing something is to know the root of where it comes from. My grandma always used to say, “ a woman is not a woman if she can not cook nor iron.” Once we got home we started to unpack all the groceries. I washed my hands and threw my apron on and began to wash all the vegetables. I then started to cut carrots and potatoes into small portions. When I was done my grandma made me cover the tamale covers with corn mass. My grandma started to explain to me that when her and her mom used to make tamales that her mom would sit back most of the time and just watch her daughter as she cooked to make sure she was doing it correctly but to also ensure that she was doing it the way that her mother taught her. My great grandma loved cooking with my grandma, she loved the fact that she was able to teach her these dishes, so that she can pass them down. We stuck the pan into the oven and let it bake for about and hour. We sat at the table talking, and my grandma started by saying that the reason why she stressed the importance of me knowing how to cook was because she wants me to be able to pass these dishes down to my siblings and any future kids. She also explained that knowing these dishes keeps a culture tie.
As I got much older I would notice my two younger sisters would always watch me as I did my makeup in the mirror. It reminded me of when I was little and I would sit across the table and watch my grandma cook. I realized that I have to take it upon myself to teach my younger sisters how to cook and the dishes that were passed down to me. I started by teaching them how to make mexican rice. My little sister Deja kept on complaining and asking me why I was so on them about learning how to cook. I would respond, “ because when you get older you are going to have to learn and know.” I continued to explain to them that grandma would force me in the kitchen as a little girl and I never really got the chance to play outside with my friends like they do now. I told them that I would always whine and complain about not being able to go outside and do the things that normal kids did. This whole time while I complained and fussed a I never really understood, until one day me and my grandma were making tamales and she told me that she is happy she can pass these down like her mother did to her. Watching me make tamales on my own was one of my grandma’s happiest moments, because I knew how to make them and because I was culturally intact. I continues by telling my sisters that it is important for them to know how to cook at a young age so they are able to do for themselves, and also have some type of tie to our culture.
Till this day I am very grateful and will always be. If it was not for my grandma I would not be able to cook nor be able to completely and genuinely embrace my culture. I have realized that we sometimes need to step out of our own boundaries in order to realize who we are culturally. It is an achievement and I am more than grateful that I am able to pass anything down to my future kids. I am very appreciative for my grandma even when she did not allow me to go play outside because instead of letting me waste me time outside she was teaching me lessons and also my own culture.