Family Gorditas

Interviewer: Is there any food or dishes that have been passed down through your family and that you share with others?


Informant: Well we do this thing every year for the past twelve years where we make Gorditas and my whole extended family is invited as a way for us to get together and celebrate being a family.


Interviewer: And when did the tradition start?


Informant: One of my uncles died and my family was more spread out so it was sort of a way to reconnect.


Interviewer: And who started it?


Informant: My mom started doing it because the uncle that died taught her how to make the dough for the gorditas and no one else knew how to do it.  So from then on each year we have a night at my house.


Interviewer: Has your mom passed down the skills to you?


Informant:  I know how to make them now after helping her for so many years but I don’t know the ingredients off the tops of my head just because she is always there to help me.  So I guess f my mom was older and she wanted was worried about the recipe getting forgotten, then she would right it is down but for now it’s more of something we do together.


Interviewer: And do other members of your family help?


Informant: Usually everyone does something to help.  My aunts, or my mom’s sisters, usually help assemble the gorditas or help with other food that they want to bring.  And my uncles usually take the time that the food is cooking to gossip and catch up. My youngers cousins and siblings usually all stay in the living room or something to just eat and play.  And then the middle kids or like the older kids around my age with help to do dishes and clean up.  So everyone pitches in in some way or another.


Interviewer: And does this happen the same time every year, like is it a set holiday?


Informant: No, it’s more of a healing thing.  Like the food and the coming together helps people feel better and we usually plan it around something happening in the family and the food helps us come to terms with how we heal and move on.


Interviewer: That’s interesting because a lot of people have specific dishes to help them celebrate good things or like birthday and things like that but it makes sense that it could also be to comprehend and deal with more serious things as well.


Informant:  Yeah like it would seem off for me to eat the gorditas or prepare them other than in that context and with those people.  It’s kind of sacred now.


Background: The informant is a Junior at USC studying Non-Governmental Organizations and Social Change.  She is Mexican American and comes from a large family and extended family based in the greater Los Angeles area.  The informant is also the roommate of the interviewer and a close friend who shares many cultural traditions. This piece to her was very special and personal but also something she enjoys sharing with her friends because it provides a glimpse into her own family history.


Context: This interview occurred during a lunch meal with friends where we discussed similar cultural practices. However, the informant and interviewer happened to also be roommates earlier in the year and were able to experience the family tradition together.  The informant invited the interviewer to participate and engage in the gathering at her home and was able to witness first-hand the power of the food.


Analysis: For this piece, I was lucky enough to experience it in person and then interview the informant after the fact just to gain a better understanding of why and how the tradition came to be.  It was great to see similarities in the family gatherings that I have in my own home and them compare it to what I was witnessing.  Also to understand the meaning behind it after having already experienced it made it more special that she had invited me in the first place.  And it was important to see that food has many different aspects for those who create it, it is often wholly different to have something from a restaurant and then to have something homemade and the effect it has on the person consuming it.