EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, I wanted to write about my roots, the strong Latinas in my life, and of course, delicious Mexican food. 

I recently made a seriously sabroso Mexican meal handed down from my grandmother.  A simple dish of enchiladas rojas. Warm corn tortillas dipped in enchilada sauce, stuffed with cheese, and fried in a pan. On the side, a nice serving of arroz and frijoles de la olla. 

To me, this food means so much and warms not only my stomach, but heart.  

I still remember my grandmother, dressed in her robe, rollers in her hair, up at 5 a.m. She’d be making a hearty portion of enchiladas for her family. 

It was a labor of love, a towering stack of enchiladas that we could reheat for days. The original meal prep you could say!  She’d be up before dawn making breakfast, lunch and dinner for her family.  It’s something she’d been doing pretty much for decades, since she was just 20 years old. 

My grandmother was a single mother of three children. She raised her children in the now-demolished projects in Segundo Barrio.  My mom can still remember her mother never having her humble casita without food, even while having to get her three little ones to school and herself to work.

She was also very proud of having the cleanest apartment in the barrio. Just because they were poor, she’d say, didn’t mean they couldn’t be clean. 

My grandmother, who was from Juarez, always looked like a movie star. You’d never guess she’d work sewing garments at a factory or lived in the projects in South El Paso. Old photographs depict her petite stature; she always well-dressed, her beautiful long dark hair curled perfectly, and her dark almond-shaped eyes piercing the lens. Amid all that beauty, her strength can still be felt – even in photos. 

My grandmother walking down the street of Juarez.

My grandmother was – and still is tough. She was the disciplinary for her kids. She was the nurturer. She was the breadwinner. She was everything. She still is everything to all of us. 

Eventually, my grandmother moved out of the barrio. She, my aunt and my mom saved money and moved into a home by the time I was born.

We had no furniture at first, but I never noticed.  The house always felt like a home. The sounds of sizzling chorizo, or boiling beans with a hint of garlic, or freshly blended chile colorado was always there. The smells, as you can imagine, were amazing. 

I was always in awe of the magic she could create on a budget – just tortillas, sopa, cheese, chile and tomato sauce. My grandmother’s food was such a big part of my childhood. Watching her peel potatoes for her guisado while talking about her life at the table is one of my most fond memories.  

She’s always been such a dedicated, strong, hardworking woman, and she did it all while always having our pancitas contentas. Now, with my own son I find myself so busy as well. I always make time though, right before work, or at night while he is asleep, to cook him up a bowl of fideo or make him some enchiladas con sopita.  

I want him to have the same memories and taste for the amazing food I grew up on….the food that reminds me of my own grandmother. 

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