Aida San Diego, CA – Born: Guadalajara, Mexico
How could I not interview my mother for our very first ‘Ethnography’ post? Born in Mexico, she infused her daily cooking with inspiration from her native land, her mother’s cooking and what her mother-in-law taught her about Persian cuisine. She makes the most delicious stews, soups, and bread I have ever had and this soup always made the weekly menu growing up. Her soup is delicious, simple, and so good on a cold, rainy day or when you are in need of a little homemade love. Enjoy!
- What is the one meal that you can always count on to bring your family back to the table?
Soup, this soup specifically. When the kids smelled this throughout the house they all would come running to the kitchen for a bowl.
- What is your fondest memory of food from your childhood?
Fresh tortillas from the tortillerí – you could smell it for miles and we would wait in line for it. Sprinkle it with a little salt, roll them up and eat them just like that.
- How has your cultural upbringing affected your views and lifestyle about food?
The way my mom cooked for me, everything was fresh and was made from scratch and in large portions. We never had sugary drinks, just light lemonades and agua frescas. We always ate together, and enjoyed each others company and conversation. This is something I always did for my family too. Have fun with the kids at the table and enjoy a nice conversation together!
*I can attest to this as I never had a single frozen or prepackaged meal in our household growing up. -Ziba
- What is one bit of advice you would give to readers for refining their skills in the kitchen?
Make a recipe the easiest way possible at first, use whatever you have on hand and it will come out delicious. Practice, practice, practice just that! Try to always use fresh vegetables and herbs if you can, it tastes better and is great for the kids.
An anytime, Mexican soup. Serve this with warm, corn tortillas spread with mayonnaise, roll them up and dunk them right in.
2 tbsp of canola or olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic, minced
1 7.5 oz/200 g of a small pasta (shells, alphabet, etc.)
1 6oz can of tomato paste
10 cups of water
1/2 bunch of cilantro, roughly chopped
1 chayote, cubed*
3 tbsp of chicken flavored bouillon, powdered form
Salt, pepper, and lime to taste
- Heat up a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add oil and then onions and cook for a few minutes, enough to start releasing their aroma but you do not want them to brown.
- Add the garlic, sprinkle in a small amount of salt and pepper and saute for another minute.
- Add your pasta and fry it up a bit (a minute or two).
- Add your tomato paste and fry it up a bit (about a minute) to release its aroma and start browning it up a bit.
- Add your chayote (or vegetable of choice), water and cilantro and stir.
- Bring your water up to a boil, add your bouillon and then bring it down to a simmer. Simmer until your pasta is al dente and then remove it off the heat. (Check regularly so that you do not overcook your pasta)
- Warm up some corn tortillas and spread each one with mayonnaise. Serve soup with a squeeze of lime juice and roll up your tortilla and dunk it into your soup. ¡Buen Provecho!
*Vegetable variations – 2 small zucchini or 2 carrots (cut in quarters), mixed frozen vegetables or frozen peas.