Folk Recipe – Milpitas, California

Hot Salsa Recipe

Ingredients: 3-4 cups tomatoes (chopped & seeded), 1 ripe mango (peeled & chopped), 1/3 medium onion (chopped), 1 clove mashed garlic, 2-3 jalapeno peppers, 1 habanero pepper (chopped & seeded, optional – heat lovers only!), 1-2 T tomato paste, juice of 1 lime, ¼ cup cilantro, chopped (optional), and 2 T balsamic vinegar.

Combine all ingredients except habanero in glass or metal bowl. Stir gently.  If using the habanero pepper, prick pepper and cook in boiling water for about 5 minutes, until soft.  Wear latex gloves. Remove from water and take off flesh, discarding membranes & seeds. Chop and mash as finely as possible.  Add to salsa and stir.  Clean work area & discard gloves. Let salsa sit for at least one half hour before eating (to let the flavors fuse).  Serve with tortilla chips.

The informant stressed that the salsa is always made with fresh ingredients straight from a personal garden.  The salsa is made at the height of tomato season in the summer for the best flavor.  Also, it is made when people come over to socialize.  It is usually made by her and her daughter as a bonding mother-daughter experience.

The practice of the women making the food is very common.  It seems expected that a food preparation practice would be a female bonding experience since women are stereotypically seen as the dominating figure in the kitchen.  I think that the salsa recipe reflects a Mexican influence that inevitably happens when living somewhere like California where there is a wide variety of authentic cuisines available.  Additionally, the weather in California contributes to this folk recipe, since one could not grow such flavorful fresh tomatoes, peppers, etc, in their own backyard without a hot environment.