USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘Stew’
Foodways

Mexican Stew

Informant was a 19 year old female who was born in Mexico and currently lives in Brazil. She came to visit me.

Informant: Even though we live in Brazil, we always eat Mexican food, my mom always found a way to make it. She made sure that we didn’t lose our Mexican identity through food. It was kinda embarrassing to invite your friends when we had stew.

Collector: Why was it embarrassing?

Informant: Because to people that don’t know it and haven’t tried it before, it doesn’t really smell appealing. Like I once made a friend of mine eat it, and I was so scared that she wouldn’t like it, but she did, thank God.

Collector: What is in this stew?

Informant: Well, there’s different soups, but the one my mom makes the most is this one with pork belly. It has corn, onions, a special pepper, garlic, and green sauce. The ingredients are what make it smell gross, but I’m used to it like I grew up with it. It’s something we also typically eat at Christmas, it’s a Mexican thing.

Collector: Is there any special reason why you eat this at Christmas?

Informant: I mean, it doesn’t mean anything s pecial like it doesn’t represent anything. It’s just because it’s warm and it’s cold outside. It’s funny, if I don’t have anything spicy in a period of a week, I start to lose it. I get mood swings, or I start feeling desperate for it, spicy food can actually be an addiction. I used to bring chili powder to school. (She laughs) I actually have a purse size of the chili powder, so I put it in my purse when I go out.

Collector: Why do you like this particular piece of folklore?

Informant: I like it because my family makes it and I’ve been eating it since I was little so I’m used to it. My first memory of it was when my grandmother made it in Mexico on Christmas. It’s always reminded me of home. It’s like a part of my identity.

I think that my friend’s story about her Mexican stew and how embarrassed she was to show it to others who weren’t Mexican was really interesting. It shows how she has such pride in her culture, that she doesn’t want anyone tearing it down because they don’t understand it. I personally always like to show people my Brazilian food, and I get upset when they don’t like it. I found it really interesting and enlightening how food can be a big part of our cultural identity.

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