An Interview with Mom

For my blog on interviewing someone who cooks for you, I really wanted to talk with my mom because I feel that she is the person who has cooked the most for me. Also, I was interested to see how her cooking has changed from when I was a kid, to my life today. Here is our conversation:

What did I hate eating when I was younger?

“Eggs. You used to hate to eat eggs. I always told you they were good for you and you always told me no because they smelled and looked bad. You also hated fruit; you said it had no taste and I would always try to force you to eat them, but you always made dirty faces like you were going to vomit. Then I knew that it was something you were not interested to eat.”

How did you start cooking—what made you want to start?

“I started cooking when I was a teenager because my mom always said when I get married and have a family, the way I was going to keep my family good, healthy, and happy, is by making my own meals.”

What is your favorite meal to make?

“My favorite meal to make is Chiles Rellenos, because I like the chile and the cheese. I also make it with Mexican rice and refried beans. Only me and my daughter like them, that’s why I do not cook them that often. But that is my best meal and the one that I love to cook. It is my best meal and I like the way they taste.”

Skyler Lewis (w:en:User:Double.reed)

Is there a special meal that reminds you of me?

“Yes. When I make Fettuccine Alfredo and that is why when you are home, I enjoy cooking it and I know you enjoy eating it too. Also, because I know you like it and it is one of your favorite dishes and you always ask me, “Mom, can you cook it?” I also like to make breakfast on the weekends; it is the best time of my life because we all eat as a family and those are the times you never forget.”

Did you have any kitchen disasters?

“No. I like to use what I have to use and little by little, I clean it. I am the type of person that I do not like to make a mess and need space to cook better.”

What’s a memorable food experience?

“A memorable food experience was when I used to make tamales with my dad and my mom. Every time we did the tamales, my dad would fill them in with pork, meat, and chile. He would fold them in, put them in a bucket, put the right temperature and the right time to cook, then all the family would get together and enjoy the tamales. We had a lot of good compliments that the tamales were good and I will never forget that in my life.”

Do you wish you made more of something?

“Yes. I wish I knew how to cook more different meals, not only the Mexican ones, but the Italian, and the Chinese. Maybe one day I will take some classes to cook different meals and enjoy them with my family.”

Do you enjoy cooking, or do you do it because you have to?

“I enjoy cooking and the reason is, I work mostly the whole day and by me cooking, it makes me feel that I love my family and I know they enjoy it too. I am glad that the way I cook, my kids, my husband, and I enjoy it. I know the best thing for your health is based on who cooks for you.”

As I was asking my mom these questions, I found myself surprised by some of her responses. Since I never asked her questions about cooking before, it was interesting to hear her thoughts and how she feels about it. I usually only ask her what she is going to cook and when it is going to be ready. This interview opened my eyes to how much my mom values cooking and how cooking plays a special role in her life. I appreciated how my mom likes to cook my favorite meal when I come home and how she enjoys cooking for us. At times, I feel that she cooks only because she has too, but I never realized that she looked forward to it after a long day at work. I was surprised when she told me that I used to hate eggs and fruit because I eat both of them today. It is interesting to hear from a parent how your tastes have changed over the years.

It was interesting for me to hear how my mom began cooking because I never knew the meaning behind her learning how to cook. As I thought more about it, I realized that this is the characteristic of many Hispanic families with daughters. They want their daughters to learn how to cook at an early age so when they are married, they can cook for their husbands and kids. Also, I was surprised to learn that my mom was thinking about taking classes to learn how to cook different meals because she had never told us that before. From this interview, I came to have gratitude for the things my mom cooks for us and the effort she puts into it because even after a long day at work, she still makes sure that we have a meal to enjoy.

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San Francisco’s Mission District

As I walked the streets of the Mission District, the first thing I noticed was that the area seemed to be very diverse. I could not help but notice that there was a variety of different cultures represented in this area. It was not simply Hispanic based, which is how I always thought of it. On every corner, you could see different types of restaurants and shops that you would not expect to see. As we began our tour, I was interested in learning more about the culture of the Mission District and what it represents. What I came to learn is that this area has a lot of history and culture behind it.

The first place we visited, La Victoria Bakery and Café, is one of the oldest buildings in the mission and has a lot of history. Walking inside, I immediately felt like I was in an authentic Mexican bakery, with the murals on the walls, the decorations on the ceiling, the bold colors, and the kitchen in the back. As a lover of Mexican bread, I could not wait to try their pan dulce. The Concha, which means “shell”, was so soft and the iced flavoring on top was sweet. The Elote, which is baked in the shape of corn, with its yellow filling inside, had the perfect blend of softness and chewiness. At Humphry Slocombe, an ice cream parlor, their many types of ice cream made it difficult to pick one. I decided to taste the Brown Sugar Fennel, which had a perfect blend of brown sugar and ice cream. The ice cream was very creamy and rich; you could really taste the flavor in each spoonful.

Looking at the alley of murals was fascinating because it was interesting to hear the significance behind each mural. One of my favorites was the mural of the Virgin de Guadalupe, as she is a prominent figure in my culture. One of the places I liked visiting was the Mission Minis cupcake shop. Mission Minis bakes a variety of bite-sized cupcakes in unique flavors. I had the Cinnamon Horchata, a Mexican rice milk cake with soft cream cheese frosting and sprinkled with cinnamon on top. The cupcake was moist and the frosting was creamy. One other place I enjoyed visiting was the Mr. Pollo restaurant because the cooks prepare the food in front of you. I like how you could see how your food is being made and what goes into it. We enjoyed a delicious vegetarian meal and I like how they let their cooks try their own recipes. Being in the Mission District was a great experience and the food was delicious as well!

Caramel Apples with Chocolate Sauce!

Sitting in the kitchen looking at my ingredients (two caramel apples, a bag of spicy seasoning, chocolate chips, and a jar of peanut butter), my instant thought is to make a fantastic dessert. Not knowing where to start, I begin by melting the chocolate in low heat for about five minutes, until it is soft and smooth. I soon smell the warm aroma of the melted chocolate fill the room. Next, I put a teaspoon of the spicy seasoning to add more flavor to the chocolate. If you want your chocolate sauce to taste spicier, feel free to add more of the seasoning. To kick it up a notch, I add a spoonful of peanut butter to give the sauce more texture and what you end up with is a thick, chocolaty confection. I cut the caramel apples into slices onto a large plate and drizzle the chocolate sauce all on top. This is looking like a very tasty dessert!

Looking at the reactions from my family as I was making the dessert, I could not wait for them to try the finished product. Their expressions as they took that first bite said it all. They could not contain their excitement and complimented me on making such a great dessert. I even joined in the tasting and had a couple of apple slices myself. You could taste the flavors of the rich chocolate, creamy peanut butter, and milky caramel as you bit into the apple. I felt a sense of accomplishment that everyone enjoyed my dessert and I would say that I passed the “Chopped” challenge!

A New Dining Experience!

Standing in the heart of Chinatown, looking at the little shops and the people walking the streets, the atmosphere was captivating and made me feel as if I were in a whole new place. Being in Chinatown for the first time, the Chinese writings on the windows, the decorations on the buildings, the cooked ducks hanging by the window, increased my eagerness to explore this place even further. It was like having a taste of China for the day without actually leaving the country. As the day started, I could not wait for this new food experience to begin!

The tea at the Red Blossom Tea Company was so smooth it sent a warming sensation through my body. It was very soothing and made me feel relaxed and calm. When heated, the tea leaves reminded me of seaweed and had a strong, musky scent. The fortune cookie at the Fortune Cookie Factory tasted like shortbread and different from the ones I have eaten at Chinese restaurants. It felt like I was eating an authentic fortune cookie since I was standing at the place where it was made. The pastries at the AA Bakery and Café looked so delicious and the aroma of the soft dough and crème-filled breads made me want to buy one right away. The food at the Four Seas Restaurant was amazing. Trying the Beef Chow Fun, with its juicy beef, chewy noodles, and glossy exterior, was one of my favorite dishes. Biting into the golden sesame seed balls was like eating fresh, warm bread. The warmness of the first bite was unbelievable and the soft, gooey interior looked like jelly. If felt like having a warm doughnut that had just been taken out of the oven. Chinatown opened my eyes to a whole new food experience and I enjoyed every minute of it!

Best Burritos Ever!

It was the morning after Fourth of July and I found myself waking up in my cousin’s room exhausted from the night before. My family and I had come to Los Angeles two days prior to spend Fourth of July with my aunts and cousins. We always have a blast when we come to Los Angeles because we do not get to see my aunts and cousins that often. So, the prior night, my cousins and I did not go to bed until around five or six in the morning. A couple hours after I woke, I heard a faint noise in the background that sounded like people cooking in the kitchen.

Soon, I smelled the aroma of warm tortillas, eggs, and beans enter the room. The smell was so delicious that it prevented me from going back to sleep, but I was too exhausted to get out of bed. Soon, I heard a knock on the door and my mom walked in and asked me if I wanted breakfast. Judging from the smell that came from the kitchen, I could not refuse. Twenty minutes later, after pulling myself out of bed, I was at the table staring at a plate with two freshly made burritos. Inside them were warm beans, fluffy eggs, and spicy chorizo. The first bite was delicious, I could taste all the flavors hidden inside the flour tortilla. All the flavors mixed together; It was one of the best burritos I ever had. I was glad that I did not skip out on breakfast and was soon asking for seconds. This was the perfect start to my morning!

Memorable Thanksgiving – Steven Fernandez –

Sitting around the table, we could not wait to indulge in the Thanksgiving meal laid out in front of us. The adults were sitting in one table and the kids in another. As I was talking to my cousin, we could smell the aroma of my grandma’s tamales surrounding the kitchen and I could not help but to stare at the food on the table. The anticipation of wanting to fill my plate up with food consumed me. Before we are able to eat, we go around and say what we are each thankful for. As soon as my little cousin is finished, all I see is people heaping their plates with food from every direction. I join in the madness and serve myself some of the glazed chicken and moist turkey that caught my eye. Next, a large spoonful of the fluffy, white mashed potatoes with smooth gravy and my grandma’s golden tamales. I could almost taste each serving as I put it on my plate. Last but not least, the warm, toasty bread fresh out of the oven is stacked on top of my plate.

The first bite created a sensation in my mouth and before I knew it, I was not paying attention to anything else happening in the kitchen. All I could focus on was the plate in front of me and how scrumptious everything looked. Soon, everyone became distracted with all the food and all we could do was eat. No conservations were made for about five minutes until everyone craved their appetites. Once everyone was finished with their meal, the desserts appeared. I could see the shiny pumpkin pie coming out of the oven along with the golden-brown chocolate chip cookies. I was really looking forward to the pumpkin pie, as it is one of my favorite desserts. The smell of coffee filled the room. Soon, everyone had their dessert including myself with my cup of coffee. The rest of the night consisted of laughs and full stomachs; this was one of the best Thanksgivings ever.

Caramel Apples! – Steven Fernandez –

A memorable food that included an apple would be the times my family and I had caramel apples during our summer trips to Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Since I was around ten years old, my family and I would always go to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk every summer. That soon became a tradition of ours and we would not go one summer without taking a trip there. Usually, it would just be my parents, siblings, and I, but some of my uncles and aunts joined us a couple of times. Our routine would be to stay at the Travelodge hotel and walk to the Boardwalk, which was about three blocks away. My family and I always enjoyed our times there and we have created great memories every summer.

One of my memories about going to the Boardwalk is that my siblings and I would always want a caramel apple before we left so we could eat them during the drive home. Before we even left for the Boardwalk, we would talk about how we were going to get caramel apples and how delicious they were. The soft green apple, covered with rich, creamy caramel and crushed peanuts. My siblings and I could not wait to get our hands on them and bite into those delicious treats. The first thing we would smell when we entered the Boardwalk was the warm aroma of the caramel apples. Seeing them on the display case increased our appetites and made our mouths water. The first bite was the best: biting into the rich apple and tasting the flavors of the caramel and peanuts. I remember we could not even finish them during the ride home and we would have them for dessert later that night. Till this day, every time I see a caramel apple, it brings me back to our trips to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.