Tag Archives: salsa

The more salsa you eat while pregnant, the hairier the baby

Main Piece

Informant: Some Mexican families believe that when you are pregnant the more salsa you have the hairier the baby is gonna come out. I didn’t like salsa a lot, and I was pregnant at the same time as my cousin and she loved salsa, she would chug it. So our family would joke that her baby was going to come out with a full head of hair and mine was going to be bald. 

Interviewer: Was it true?

Informant: Yeah, all my cousins’ kids had a lot of hair, even on their back- they looked a little monkeyish haha. Mine had hair but it was normal hair, no back hair though. Plus, it all falls off so does it really matter at the end of the day? … Do you want your child to be born with hair? If you did, then eat salsa! I also think about pregnancy cravings and trying to make something out of it. It reminds me of the saying that spicy food puts hair on your chest, but in this case it is a baby. 


The informant is my mother, a Mexican woman who is first-generation and the oldest of 3, who was born and raised in San Ysidro,CA  a border town just north of Tijuana, Mexico. Influenced by memories and conversations with her great great grandmother, many of her practices, customs, and beliefs were passed down from her maternal side of Mexican customs. Fluent in both English and Spanish, the informant has always felt conflicted about her culture as she wanted to fit in with American customs but wanted to preserve her Mexican heritage and traditions. The informant had her first child when she was 18, and worked her way as a single mother with two kids to attain her Master’s Degree and is now the Executive Vice President at a non-profit health clinic that serves the community she was raised in.


It is often a running joke in our family that the informant is the only one who could not handle her spice, and when this is brought up my family jokes that she is the reason all of her children came out to be bald. Wanting to learn more about this joke and its superstitious origins I asked her about it in the interview that we had. 


I think this superstition is impacted by the dietary qualities of Mexican food as well as pregnancy cravings that many expecting mothers have. Usually, the spicier food or salsa you eat the tougher you are viewed to be, and this thought could have transpired to create the origins of this folklore. I also think it has to deal with the masculin stigma revolving around what “toughness” constitutes, and usually hair is a more masculine trait so the tougher the baby the tougher/more masculine the baby.



My informant’s family’s Salsa recipe.

A can of tomatoes (16oz)

A handful of cilantro from the bushel

A little less than a quarter of an onion

Two Serrano Peppers, unstemmed

Take all the ingredients above and blend them together. Once at a good consistency, not too watery, able to see slices of the cilantro in it, sprinkle the top with garlic salt to taste. Blend again. Serve with tortilla chips.



This definitely has the feeling of definitive folklore, as it has been passed down from generation to generation, family to family, race to race, even making adjustments for people’s tolerance levels of spice. The recipe has now become the salsa recipe for so many different people and walks of life. For my informant in particular, what started as a way to taste and remember home, has turned into something that he has inadvertently passed along to his friends, who use it all the way on the other side of the country with their family and friends.

The salsa recipe seems to be more than just a recipe but also a story of this family. It is fascinating that they have kept the recipe, and passed it down to all of the parents, children, and children’s friends, swearing that the recipe is theirs, even though they do not even speak to the person who brought the recipe into their life. I cannot help but feel my informant’s grandmother remembers her estranged son, the same way my informant remembers him, every time she makes this or eats this. It is almost as though she is keeping his memory and presence alive because after all there are so many salsa recipes out there; why stick with the one that surely causes the most heartache?

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.