My mama and abuelita (grandma) were good cooks. My mom always had a nice dinner on the table when my dad got home from work and my abuelita also made wonderful meals which always included dessert. Yet I never saw my mother bake or make staples like tortillas. My abuelita might have but I don’t remember seeing her make them either. My mom made delicious tacos and rice and beans while my abuelita made things like ‘dulce de membrillo’ (a sweet from the fruit quince) and capirotada (a bread type pudding made during lent) and special things like buñuelos (fried flour tortillas in syrup) for the holidays. And of course they made the best tamales in the whole world!
The thing is, they never taught me to cook and the only recipe passed on to me was how to make Christmas tamales. I think of them often when I’m in my kitchen, wishing I could pick up the phone and call and ask how to fix a certain dish or invite them to come taste test one of my dishes. If they could see me now they would not believe the cook I have taught myself to be. They would be astonished that I could actually make my own tortillas and bread rather than buy them at the store. My sweets would rival some of my grandmothers and my creativity in the kitchen would not have gone unnoticed.
Today I made up a bakers dozen of corn tortillas for tomorrow’s meal. As I watched my hands working the dough I smiled to myself and thought of the very special ladies who would have been astonished at my skills in the kitchen, and they would have been proud.