By Angie Galindo Perez
A heartwarming moment between a mother and daughter. Cooking pozole, a Mexican meal, and learning about their roots.
As my Mami took the groceries out of the bag, I could see the excitement in her eyes as we would soon begin our Mexican Christmas tradition. Soon, Mami would show me how to make Mexican pozole, the recipe her own Abuelita taught her.
“Put your hair up in a bun, wash your hands, and help me cook Mija,” Mami said to me, as she started playing cumbia music on the stereo.
“Okay, Mami. Relax,” I said.
“Sorry Mija, I’m just excited that my little girl is finally going to take a part in our family traditions,” she said, as she put on the pork to cook.
“Before I start telling you the story, can you please chop up some onions and garlic?” Mami said as I reached into the grocery bag.
“Our ancestors, the Aztecs, were smart. I always wonder, how did they know which plants were edible,” she said.
As I struggled to chop the onions and garlic, I almost cut my fingertip with the small sharp knife. Mami glanced over and motioned for me to step aside. In a flash, Mami chopped up the onions and garlic, dropped them into the pot of boiling water with the meat, and placed the lid on top.
“The Aztecs were one of the greatest empires in Mexican history,” Mami said. “The Aztec empire had strong warriors whose victories honored their gods. Especially the god of war and of the sun, Huitzilopochtli.The Aztec’s prisoners of war would be used in a human sacrificial religious soup that they called ‘pozole.’ But the colonizers of Spain arrived and changed the Aztecs’ customs. The Spaniards converted the Aztecs to Christianity. Through these new and enforced beliefs, the Aztecs were taught human sacrifices were wrong and that? they should use animals such as cows and pigs for their practices, instead.”
As she talked about the Aztecs, my mouth dropped open wide. Mami saw my face of horror and she laughed. Then, she stroked my hair back to my ear.
I sat quietly for several minutes, thinking about everything Mami just said. As Mami lifted the lid from the pot, the steam warmed the house from the cold winter breeze. Mami took out the meat from the boiling pot and placed it on a separate plate. She opened the can of white hominy and poured it into the same boiling water that cooked the meat.
“Wait, Mami. So, how did your Abuelita teach you how to cook pozole?” I asked.
Mami looked outside the window and sighed. I could see the expression in her eyes. She missed her Abuelita.
“My Abuelita was the gem of the town and was loved by everyone. My Abuelita’s name was Flor, which means flower in Spanish and her name fitted her personality. She always wore traditional flowered blouses or skirts and always smelled like flowers. Every day she would wake up at sunrise and set out to collect all types of flowers. Did you know I was Abuelita’s favorite grandchild? Shhhh, don’t tell your uncles and aunts,” she said as she put her finger to her lips.
Mami opened the lid to check if the hominy was cooking. She pinched the hominy to check its softness.
“It is a bit hard but it’s cooking nice,” she said. “Now, it’s time to put in the seasoning. For this pozole to taste good, you need to add oregano and salt.”
When Mami put the seasoning in, it fell down gently like the snow.
“Anyways, she took care of my siblings and me when my parents immigrated to the United States,” Mami said. “One day, my Abuelita called me to come into the kitchen and told me to help her cook pozole. She showed me what ingredients to put into my pozole and which method works to get that delicious and unique taste.”
“Those were the best days,” Mami said. “The days that remind me of my childhood. I wish you could have met my Abuelita. She died six years ago. I wish I could have been there for her during her last days. She went away peacefully in her sleep. Abuelita’s legacy continues and I can see her reflection in you.” She pointed her finger at me and tapped me gently on my chest.
“Why do you say that?” I asked.
“You have her determination, kindness, and curiosity,” Mami answered, as she patted my head. Then, she walked to the stove to taste the pozole.
“Mija, come here and taste how good our pozole is,” she said and motioned for me with her hand for me to come over.
My mom handed me a spoon full of pozole. As soon as I tasted it, I imagined Mami and her Abuelita tasting the pozole with all of its flavors: the oregano, the soft pork, the saltness, and the white hominy.
“It’s ready to be served!” Mami announced.
Soon, we will share our pozole with the whole family!
My mother has always been my inspiration. On Christmas Eve, it’s my mother’s tradition to cook pozole for our family to eat. I was helping my mother cut onions for the pozole when suddenly the idea of writing a flash story about a mother and daughter cooking a meal would be an interesting story. Originally, I wanted to take an approach to today’s immigration problem in the United States since this flash piece involves immigration but I felt that this story should head towards a heartwarming moment. I want this story to help the reader reflect upon their relationship with their mother.
Angie Galindo Perez is a high school senior enrolled in Environmental Engineering and Technology. She has taken two Advanced Placement classes and several College Now classes. Apart from school, some of Angie Galindo's interests include reading, writing, listening to music and visiting new places. She currently lives in Queens, New York City.