Author Archives: Naomi Granado


Informant Information:

Clerisse Cornejo is a student at the University of Southern California. She comes from a mixed background (Japanese/Mexican), and is originally from Fontana, CA.


“So the tale is a wive’s tale, very common among a lot of Latino families. Uh, so as a child in order to make your hair grow thicker for the rest of your life (supposedly) you’ll get completely balded. The idea behind this is that as your hair grows back it’ll grow back thicker. I’ve looked into it there’s no actual evidence anywhere that says balding your kids will make their hair more thick and beautiful but that did not stop my mother from balding me as a two year old. I think the tale is mostly on my mom’s side and it was more common for the people (kids/cousins) that came before me. I have some cousins on that side of the family that were never balded as babies, so I think the practice has finally fallen out of use in my family.”

Q: Was there a ancient myth/tale associated with balding?

“Not that I know of.”


The informant mentioned that this practice is common in Latino families, and after investigation, it’s actually very true. I was able to find many articles detailing exactly what the informant said, especially on the belief that the informant mentioned. Apparently, it is common practice in Mexican culture to shave the heads of infant baby girls so that in the future they can have great hair, but I wasn’t able to find the origin of this old wive’s tale.

La Cajachina

Informant Information:

Michelle Pina is a student at the University of Southern California. She is from a Cuban background, and is originally from Miami, FL before moving to Los Angeles, CA for college.


“La Cajachina is on Christmas Eve which is called Noche Buena, and we have this thing called La Cajachina which is essentially getting a pit in your backyard and roasting a pig carcass over the fire. So first off you have to make the pit or get a metal tub with coals. For the pig, some people do a whole pig and some people do parts. So for the parts you’d add seasoning to the meat you’re gonna roast. You get the roast from the butcher which means it should be clean but if you want to clean it more you can grab a hose and hose the whole thing down on the rotisserie rack.”

Q: Is there any reason for a pig to be roasted?

“With Cuban food, it’s a lot of pork so it makes sense for it to be a giant pig.”

Q: Is the celebration standard in your family?

“Oh yeah, it’s super standard. Sometimes if it’s only my immediate family we’ll just roast the pig in the oven and call it La Cajachina, but if we’re with more distant family and there’s a lot of people then we’ll do the official La Cajachina.”


I found out that “La Cajachina” translates into china box, which is essentially the box that the informant puts the pig in to barbecue. This box, from what I found, originated in Havana’s Chinatown, where Chinese laborers worked in the 1850s. However, my informant told me that there’s a tendency in Cuba/the Caribbean to call anything weird or complicated “china” or Chinese, so the box might’ve not been Chinese in origin.

Barefoot in the House

Informant Information:

Michelle Pina is a student at the University of Southern California. She is from a Cuban background, and is originally from Miami, FL before moving to Los Angeles, CA for college.

Urban Legend:

“Whenever you’re walking around the house with your bare feet, no socks or shoes, when your grandmother or your mom sees you they’re gonna get mad because they think if you walk around barefoot on the ground you’re gonna get sick. Like because they think the ground is cold and your feet are awesome receptors of temperature so if your feet are cold your body’s immune system slows and you get sick.”

Q: Have you ever asked your grandmother/mother why they think that?

“I think it’s from their mothers telling them about it”

Q: Did you ever do research?

“Me in a fit of rage after my grandmother yelled at me for not having slippers in the house, I decided to do my own research and found that it was just an old wives tale and I told my grandmother and my mom and my mom believes me and my grandmother doesn’t.”


The informant’s old wive’s tale is fairly common among other Hispanic households. The informant told me her grandmother said this was supposed to prevent sickness. This is true in the present sense, but this wive’s tale could be traced back to class ranking. In Cuba and many other Hispanic countries, being barefoot is associated with being poor, as the many people in the country that are barefoot are peasants on the streets. Though this might not be what the informant’s grandmother intended, it could definitely be the origin of this old wive’s tale.

Man Door Hand Hook Car Door

Informant Information:

Joey Tan is a student at the University of Southern California studying Interactive Media and Game Design. She has a Chinese background, and is originally from Toronto, Ontario until moving to Los Angeles, CA for college.


“Ok so, so, a man and a woman were in a car and they drove to a forest to you know get the sexy times on and they were like making out, like you know light touching, and suddenly they heard a strange noise outside. And they stopped and the guy’s like ‘what is that sound?’ and the girl’s like ‘I don’t know I couldn’t really hear it that well’. So they went back to making out and getting it on, but suddenly they heard the strange noise again. This time they stop and the guy’s like ‘I’m gonna go check it out you stay here, don’t let anyone in, even if it’s someone asking for help. Don’t let anyone in.’ the girl says ‘yes’. So the guy leaves, the girl stays in the car, she doesn’t hear anything. She stays there for 10-15 minutes. She starts to worry because she’s hearing nothing and she’s like when’s he gonna come back. Suddenly she hears a long banging from the back of the car. Like from behind the car. She turns and sees nothing there but the banging continues. She sees someone scratching on the back of the car ‘Let me in’. She’s reminded of what the guy said and she doesn’t let them in. She stays there and after awhile the noise stopped. She didn’t know what to do, she ends up waiting until morning until it’s safer so she goes to sleep. She wakes up the next morning, the forest is still silent, there’s no one around, and she decides to leave to find her boyfriend. Just then, as soon as she left the car, she turned and noticed that man door hand hook car door. The end.”

Q: Where did you hear this from?

“My friend was sleeping over and he was like do you wanna hear this scary story and I’m like yeah. It took an hour to tell it which is the worst part.”

Q: Is this supposed to be messing around?

“He couldn’t stop laughing for 10 minutes straight, it was crazy.”


The informant mentioned that she did not know the origin of this story because she had only heard this from a friend. After doing more research, I found out that this “story” is actually a “meme” from a website called 4chan. Apparently, the original poster of this story wanted to make a parody of a creepypasta (a website for horror/scary stories, very much a part of internet culture) story, and by doing so created the “man door hand hook car” meme.


Tamale Recipe

Informant Information:

Clerisse Cornejo is a student at the University of Southern California. She comes from a mixed background (Japanese/Mexican), and is originally from Fontana, CA.

Traditional Recipe:

So on the other side of the family which is majorly Mexican like Mexican. We always try to get together on Christmas Eve and watch our tia make tamales. It takes a few hours and sometimes we help if she wants it. So the recipe is like masa on the outside which is like a corn based paste I guess that forms the outside of the tamale inside they’re usually stuffed with chicken, beef, or pork, and homemade chile. So at this point it’s all about getting the masa which you can make yourself or buy from somewhere else. I think my aunt usually buys it or she might even switch between the two actually. Then they soak the corn husks in hot water and this makes the casing around the entire tamale including the masa. It’s like a second layer. Once the corn husks are boiled they remove them from the water, add the masa, and fillings and spread it throughout consistently. Afterwards they’re folded in the proper shape and they’re steamed in this big pot called an oya. And they sit there for awhile and cook. After a certain amount of time we remove them and they’re ready to eat. I don’t put sauce but it’s typical for somebody to put more chile/another topping on their tamales.”

Q: Would you say this is a traditional/standard recipe?

“Definitely. I don’t think there’s too many unique ways to make tamales outside of picking different ingredients. We use pretty conventional ingredients so they’re pretty normal tamales.”

Q: Why on Christmas Eve?

“I think it’s because they take so long to prepare and make. So, families often make them for a special time of the year like birthdays or specific holidays they celebrate with their families.”


The informant’s recipe, upon further investigation, is fairly standard to other authentic tamale recipes. The only difference is that other recipes call for more chile oil/sauce. I was also able to find out that an “oya”, as the informant calls it, is actually a dutch oven.