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August 29, 2023

Mexican Hands: Exploring recipes that were developed by our honored matriarchs, mothers, abuelas, tías and hermanas

By: Mando Rayo

In this episode, we discuss how we can honor the matriarchs of nuestras familias. The kind that with their bare hands can flip tortillas over a blazing comal, work and pound masa for tortillas and tamales, and make salsas with their Mexican Hands. Get to know the stories behind the dishes and recipes that are near and dear to our hearts. Guests include Diana Valera from Tamale House East in Austin and Ellen Riojas Clark, Ph.D., Professor Emerita at the University of Texas at San Antonio.



The full transcript of this episode of Tacos of Texas is available on the KUT & KUTX Studio website. The transcript is also available as subtitles or captions on some podcast apps.

Intro Hi, my name is Bessie Martinez and I’m a first gen entrepreneur and Latina community founder. To me, tacos sounds like chopped potatoes thrown into a sizzling skillet on a warm Saturday morning while listen to my mamá in the background singing to her favorite [indistinguishable] song at the top of her lungs. This is Bessie Martinez and you’re listening to Tacos of Texas on KUT.

Mando Rayo Mexican hands: the ability to deliver tortilla over a hot comal or open fires without burning yourself. What’s up, taco world? I’m taco journalist Mando Rayo. And welcome to the Tacos of Texas podcast season tres produced by Identity Productions in partnership with KUT and KUTX Studios. And we’re back exploring taco culture in Texas through the eyes of the people in the Lone Star State. So grab a warm and fresh tortilla, add some mantequilla, and get ready for some muy tasty taco conversations. Today on Tacos of Texas, we’re talking about Mexico hands, the kind of hands that flip tortillas over fiery comal with their bare hands, the kind that work that masa so easily into tortillas, sopes, huaraches, y mas. Join us today to talk about how these recipes continue to be developed by our honored matriarchs, our mothers, abuelas, tias, and hermanas. We’re talking to seasoned cook and restaurateur Diana Valera of Tamale House East, whose strong Mexican hands have been making tortillas for over three generations. Then we’ll speak with Professor Emeritus at the University of Texas at San Antonio, Dr. Ellen Riojas Clark to hear what she’s learned through her research and cooking, join us on today’s Tacos of Texas. I got Mexican hands. Do you? I got the ability to flip a tortilla on a comal or open fire without burning myself. That’s the cooking style I grew up with. But I’m not the first Mexicano to do it. Because you know what? I learned it from my mother, and she learned it from her mother. And she learned it from her mother. It’s this idea that making or cooking something with your hands goes to a deeper level. It’s something that’s in your sangre. Even eating with your hands gives you a sense of being grounded and just, I think, more connected to the food. For years, we watch our beloved mothers and matriarchs work those hands into the masa, into making those dishes we all love and crave, and that give us nostalgia of being a kid again. It’s that care that they give, whether it’s “Una tortillita para mi y las quemaditas para papa”. It’s the love and attention that moms give us that make everything taste better. But you also see it in their rugged and tough hands when they wake up before everyone else to knead on that masa as the manteca courses through their fingers to make sure that onions are cut fine and that tomatoes are the freshest, or when they go out of their way to make that special huevito con chorizo for you. When you look at your abuelita and mother’s hands, you can see the wear and tear and love that they have given us through the work they’ve done in our family’s kitchens. While their work may have gone unnoticed, even in or within our families, I think it’s time to honor the love and work they have given us through their own Mexican hands. [music] [crunch sound effect] Oh, it’s taco time. And now here’s a word from our sponsors from me. Vamos a Chuco Town con Visit El Paso. It’s the hometown of this taco journalist. For those craving an outdoor adventure, El Paso has all you need. And more than you expected. Enjoy the city’s convenient location to nearby state parks and sites and explore miles of mountain trails, natural beauty, animals and more. Towering above the city of El Paso is Franklin Mountain State Park, the largest state park in an urban setting. You can hike rugged terrain in 37 square miles of desert wilderness, scrub vegetation and open space and conquer over 125 miles of multi-use trails that are especially popular with mountain bikers, Hueco Tanks State Park and historic site. At Hueco Tanks, visitors can hike, try rock climbing and bouldering, birdwatching, study nature, picnic, and stargaze. Also available are guided and self-guided tours to view ancient rock glyphs. Stop by the interpretive center in a historic ranch house to learn more about the park and its history, muchas gracias to our friends at Visit El Paso for sponsoring this podcast episode. Follow Visit El Paso on Instagram and Facebook at Visit El Paso or on their website at Visit El Paso dot com. [music] No fees equals more tacos at Amplify Credit Union. With fee free banking at Amplify, you’ll never pay another account fee, overdraft fee or transfer fee ever again. And no fees means un poquito mas de sabor. It’s not a bank, it’s a credit union. And their goal is to remove the obstacles that stand between their members and financial success. So they turned off all their bank fees. Because it’s not just about giving back. Sometimes it’s about not taking in the first place. And you know what? Amplify is the first financial institution in Texas to put an end to bank fees. Amplify charges $0 in overdraft fees. That’s right. Zero. Amplify offers fee free banking to both personal and business members. To learn more, go to go amplify dot com slash tacos. [music] Our first guest is Diana Vazquez-Valera. Doña Valera worked in her parent’s original Tamale House alongside her mother, Carmen. She lived in Mexico and Peru before returning to Austin to open up her own restaurant, México Típico, and eventually helped her five children, opened the Tamale House on East Sixth Street. At age 72, she continues to run the all female team at Tamale House East. Let’s welcome Diana to the studio. We’re in the studio with Diana Vazquez-Valera, matriarch of the Tamale House.

Diana Vasquez-Valera Yes, I guess that is my title now and is due to I’m already 74, so I guess it’s my turn.

Mando Rayo So tell us a little bit about yourself and how you actually got into the restaurant business.

Diana Vasquez-Valera My parents opened the original tamales house on first and Congress. It’s no longer there. I was probably about 12 or 13 and I would see my parents going to this little it was probably about 300 square feet and they were producing tamales and tacos. And I naturally was curious and wanted to be a part of it. I took a liking to it immediately and started cooking and started preparing. Started running on the register, doing everything that is required of a restaurant. And so I had an early introduction to a restaurant. It was a to-go place. It wasn’t a full service.

Mando Rayo But what are the earliest memories you have of maybe her teaching you to use your hands to to make something for the family?

Diana Vasquez-Valera Tamales nowadays are, the majority of tamales, are made by machine. But back then, and even now, with our restaurant, they were made by hand. So I can close my eyes and just see the women that she had making the tamales. All mothers with families and working. They would have these huge bundles of masa and put in all these spices in it and and work in it, working it with her hands, you know. And I tried to do it. My hands were so little then. Not very much bigger. But it’s hard. It’s hard. And they would just work so hard at it and make sure and always tasting it, always tasting it and and slapping it around and these big bundles and throwing the masa over there and. And then the shucks having to get all the shucks prepared and and cleaning them and taking all the little hairs out and making sure they were soft enough to spread and spread them by hand. And then the filling was another thing to do. Yeah. Cooking the meat. And then I remember these tamales. Back then, she would make it with a hog head. And so I remember these big hollow heads, which scared me at first. I was just a kid. But. But, boy, did they give the flavor to the tamales. They just had so much mantequita, real lard. Yeah, that it was tamales. When you feel them, I mean, the mantequita would just come out of the little shack when they would wrap them. And each one, each tamale, all these thousands of tamales that they’d had to fill and count. And then they’d be gone once you cooked them. People would just eat them up so fast and we’d have to make more.

Mando Rayo You couldn’t keep up with the demand.

Diana Vasquez-Valera No, no. But I do remember so distinctly how those ladies were just it was a party. They were just mixing that masa and slapping it around and laughing and telling jokes. And I said, Why are they mixing it so much with their hand when they just get a blender or something? But they never did. It was all by hand. Iit was long hours. A lot of work. And they got through it and I just remember I’m going to make my tamales like that, but I don’t know who’s going to do it because I don’t know who’s going to want to do this. And, you know, but we do it and we make them by hand. And it’s basically the same method that my parents used and that these little ladies and they were all about my size. Yeah. And it I don’t know how six or seven ladies fit in 300 square feet with all these pots that were bigger than me. Yeah, I’m five feet and these pots were huge. I could fit in the pot and all of this was going on, and the window was buzzing with people and the lines were out the door and all this laughing and shouting and clanking. And it was just a big circus.

Mando Rayo It was a big party.

Diana Vasquez-Valera It was a big party.

Mando Rayo I mean, that’s part of our memories that we collect, right?

Diana Vasquez-Valera Yes. Because even now to this day, in my kitchen, with the Tamale House on Sixth Street, I have to have music going and my employees, they’re the same way. They’re all laughing, having fun at it. Because if you have to think about doing all of these tamales, hundreds of tamales, and just stand in there with no emotion, how boring and how long the day would be. And so it is a party. And I think that that happens in homes sometimes because when you make tamales during Christmas, it is a party. It is something that brings the family together and friends and it’s something that requires a lot of work. But you don’t feel it if you make it a party.

Mando Rayo Mhm. And what are the some of the things that you cherish that you received from your mother, whether they’re cooking utensils?

Diana Vasquez-Valera First of all, her commitment as she was committed to making her business a success so that she could provide for her children. And she did. She was a good mother. And it took getting up early every day. And back then, it was a seven day week. I think about the selflessness that she had. She just it was always her family and others first. And she she always left herself on the last. I would have to force her, Let’s go do this. Let’s do this, you know, to to find enjoyment in other things and to break away. Because it’s easy to get stuck on one thing and forget about yourself. And you always need to to make sure that you take care of the caretaker.

Mando Rayo Mhm. And is that something that you carried with you?

Diana Vasquez-Valera Oh, yes. I take care of myself. Well, I do, but, I do not have the word no in my vocabulary, even when it should be no.

Mando Rayo Sure.

Diana Vasquez-Valera I say yes or let’s see, how do we do it? I just feel that if you say no to begin with, forget it. There’s no possibility. So I do have that attitude that she had about making things possible. And I do that. And I will work if need be, long hours or what needs to be done. And I love a party.

Mando Rayo That I do know.

Diana Vasquez-Valera Yes, you have enjoyed our parties.

Mando Rayo We have. When you walked in, you mentioned a couple of items that you still hold or you still use a spoon and a pot. Can you talk a little bit about that?

Diana Vasquez-Valera Yes. You know, I had a customer the other day. I went to the table. Can I go to the back to table to check everything? Okay. And anything I can get you? And the customer said, Oh my God, this is so good. How do you do it? What do you do? She says, I try to make tamales, but the texture, it just it’s so, so soft, so yummy, and all the flavors just go through. And so I told the customer, I said, Well, you know, it’s this, this and that, but you really got to get the masa and the ingredients down. And you can only get that with your hands and with some experience. If you put someone in the kitchen that’s unhappy. And they try to make tamales. They’re going to come out hard. They’re not going to come out good. Yeah. But if you put someone in there that their hands are an extension of themselves and they’re happy and they can feel they’re going to mix them up because we still mixed them masa by hand. We don’t use a whole bard. We don’t use a big mixer. Maybe it’s superstition. I don’t know what, but my mother didn’t use it.

Mando Rayo Yeah. And I think when people are at home, they’re like, Well, I followed the recipe. I think the missing element is the feel or mom’s touch.

Diana Vasquez-Valera Yes, the mama’s touch.You have, you have to touch it. Yes. You. You have to care about it. And you do have to love it. And you have to be proud of it. You don’t want to sell anything or even give anything away. That is not an extension of yourself and how you feel about what you do. And so that’s. That’s something that I did learn from my mother. Yeah.

Mando Rayo Thank you so much for sharing what you’ve learned and your process and your ways. And I feel like we need to honor this work.

Diana Vasquez-Valera And all the mothers.

Mando Rayo And all the mothers. How do we do that?

Diana Vasquez-Valera I think that that is people like yourself and yes, me, but all the other little restaurants sit around and doing their best and creating and maintaining the traditions of their families and sharing it with other people, that it needs to be appreciated as an art, and it’s an art that is dying. I still make the tamales with one helper and the others join clean in the shucks. But you know, there’s just two of us that create this consistency of the masa that create this meat that tastes. And it’s it’s something that many people don’t want to do. Don’t aspire, but they enjoy eating it. And so I always the people that help me to make the tamales, which could be one or two. I love them to death and I thank God for them all the time. And as often as I can, I give regalitos and I make sure that they’re happy. That they’re paid well and that they are happy and that any problems they may have. I tried to help them with it because all those people that work in restaurants and in the service industry have had a hard time and they need to be appreciated. And whatever we can do to continue the traditions, what you do, what I do, what other mothers do, what other businesses do is so important because the world is moving so fast that we sometimes forget that what made our families great, what made our communities great, are all the mothers that never gave up and that always, always love their families so much to to do whatever it took to provide for them, to educate them, and to pass on whatever was taught by their grandmothers and their great grandmothers. And so it’s been a long journey and I hope it’s and continues to be a long journey. When my children wanted to open the tamales house and do what my mother did and what I did, I said, Oh my God, they’re all good eaters, but I need to pass to them something more importantly, which is the tradition and the pride of still being in East Austin, still doing something that my grandmother’s did and her mother did. And if I can impart that feeling, that belief of of importance, of value, of preservation, I’m done. I’ve done my job, you know, because then they will take care of it and they take those values to their families. And by the way, I my first grandbaby I had so, you know, I’m busy with kids and I only had to wait about 50 years.

Mando Rayo But now you got another loved one to pass on.

Diana Vasquez-Valera And he’s a good eater.

Mando Rayo Yeah, that’s how they start and that’s how we all start.

Diana Vasquez-Valera But thank you so much.

Mando Rayo Thank you

Diana Vasquez-Valera For allowing me to share my life and my experiences and all of the people that made me and help put my values together. And thank you for continuing to do the work that you do to spread the good news about Mexican food and Mexican families and traditions.

Mando Rayo [music] Oh, it’s taco time. And now here’s a word from our sponsors from me. Located deep in the heart of South Texas, Laredo is the beginning of the Lone Star State and a travel experience that is American, Texan and Mexican all in one. This location lends itself to a perfect blend of culture, language, culinary influence and ambiance that can only be found in deep in the heart of South Texas. This small Spanish villa was founded in 1755 on the banks of the Rio Grande. Walk around the historic downtown and discover landmarks that are significant for both Laredo and Texas history. Some landmarks include San Augustin Plaza, Republic of the Rio Grande Museum and San Augustin Cathedral. Laredo’s warm weather creates a perfect ambiance for a weekend of fun and relaxation. Mexican, Tex-Mex, and just about anything else has a Laredo flair that sets it apart. So come for the authentic Mexican food and stay for the flavors. Whatever you crave, you’re sure to find an amazing array of enticing selections. Muchas gracias to our friends at Visit Laredo for sponsoring this podcast episode. Follow Visit Laredo on Instagram and Facebook at Visit Laredo, Texas. Or on their website w-w-w dot Visit Laredo dot com. Our next guest is Dr. Ellen Riojas Clark, a professor emerita at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Her research examines ethnic and cultural identity and cultural studies topics. She is executive producer for the Latino Artists Speaks, Exploring Who I Am series, and she has various youth and adult publications. You might also remember Dr. Riojas Clark from our episodes on United Tacos of America. Well, Ellen, thanks so much for being on Tacos of Texas. I really appreciate you. We need to honor you with a some kind of taco award for being best mentor for Armando Rayo.

Ellen Riojas Clark Sounds good. Sounds good. I’ll take and accept that. Okay.

Mando Rayo As you know, we’re talking about what I call Mexican hands. This idea of how do we really look at what we’ve learned from our mothers, our abuelas, our matriarchs in learning how to cook in recipes. So my first question to you is, can you describe these Mexican hands, if you will, that fed you growing up? What was cooked when you were growing up and how did you see them doing that?

Ellen Riojas Clark Well, I probably have a different perspective on this than what you expected, because my mother came from Fort Worth, Dallas area. So I did not grow up with Mexican food per se, or Mexican-American food. And her mother died when she was very young and she didn’t have a grandmother. So she mostly learned cooking from magazines and books. She was a real reader. So basically she would learn what to do at that time. There were no cookbooks or recipes in newspapers regarding Mexican food. So consequently, at home, we grew up with regular fare, as it might be described. And she continued her learning and education within Gourmet Magazine and so forth that my dad would bring her home. So it’s a different perspective. But my dad’s family was here in San Antonio. So, yes, they made tamales and buñuelos and so forth, which I did learn from them, even though I wasn’t in close contact with them. But then my mother and I did start exploring the whole idea of Mexican food and then regional food, as Adán Medrano describes it, la comida de la casa. And then that became my intensive part of a researcher. And I’m a researcher. So that’s the part that I then did. I had a real cultural awareness, you might say, in terms of who I was and who I was, was determined by more than just the regular food of where I grew up, which is a white neighborhood. We would go to the West Side church and driving back we would go to a [indistinguishable] and and buy corn tortillas. And that was like the most tasty treat of all. My dad carried a salt shaker in the car and on the way back from the west side to the north side, we would eat tortillas with salt. Just enjoying the warm tortillas with the salt on them. I think that that what I became aware of was mostly the hands that made them. Yeah. It didn’t matter what color your hands were or from what culture the food came from. As long as you made it with passion and with eagerness to to learn about that food.

Mando Rayo Yeah. One of the things that we’re looking at and I’m curious about is your research around how women have these internal practices or even their lived experiences to cook these traditional foods. What have you learned about that through your research?

Ellen Riojas Clark Well, not only my research, but my culinary experience, because my mother would make homemade bread and of course, she would knead the dough is the same thing you do when you do tortillas, flour tortillas. You knead the dough and you let it rest in between. And so there are culinary practices that exist among all ethnic and cultural groups. So if you’re in a contained neighborhood or situated context, then you learn the context of the food that surrounds you. Comida casera is that of your house. And if you were fortunate enough to have grandparents of those and your tias and uncles. So it just depends on how you grew up and where you grew up. And then finding out that part of your own identity is food. Your culture is reflected through the food. So that’s what to me was really important. So the practice of making bread was just carried over to the making of tortillas, the harina, or to make buñuelos because you have to knead it so well and roll it out so well. So some of those internal practices, I think, were when we make tamales, we worked hard all day getting everything done. And she had always taught me to have the right pots, the barro. So I never make the meat for my tamales in a metal pot because it doesn’t project the same kind of heat, you know, the same kind of flavor. And so I have huge ollas that you have seen and that I use to cook the meat with and huge ollas that I use and made out of barro that I use to masar of the dough or the masa for the tamales. So it’s respecting those practices that I found out the research were internal. And so I think some of the other things that we use in our informal practices is what I consider the symphony of cooking. You know, I love music. So, so the symphony cooking to me is always a sound. And I’ve got my my instruments right here. [rapidly chops knife on a cutting board] You know, the chopping. Yeah. And you chop an onion with like this [chops rapidly] or fast and then the jalapeno, you go like this [chops slightly slower] and slices and the tomatoes, it’s a softer cut. And so the sounds are different for what you use to cut onions, tomatoes or whatever. And so the knives that you use are also different. And the other one that I love is the sound, of course, of the see if you can guess what this one is. [sound of stone grinding]

Mando Rayo Molcajete!

Ellen Riojas Clark Recognizable, right?.

Mando Rayo Yeah.

Ellen Riojas Clark Recognize you can’t and this is a really tiny one that’s kind of broken because it’s so old. I have about ten molcajetes. And when I teach cooking, I give everybody a molcajete  and then I tell them, you’ve got to have. For cominos, It’s a grinding sound. [sound of stone grinding] And once you had the garlic, it’s a little bit softer.[sound of stone scraping]  And once you add the chilies, it’s a round. [sound of stone being dragged around the molcajete] But you can just play with the sound of a molcajete. And talk about historical background, you know, that goes back to, you know, the volcanoes in Mexico, right?

Mando Rayo Yep.

Ellen Riojas Clark And all of these instruments are really in codices, you know, in Mexico and come forth from Indigenous backgrounds. But you know what I love the best? The instrument that I love the best is a palote. And the palote, I’ve got to I’ve got a really beautiful one here that I bought in Italy, and it’s mechanical engineering in terms of putting stress on a material to roll it out. And so the smaller the rolling pin, the more pressure compress on it as you roll and roll out the tortilla into a thin thing. If you use the big palote, the one that has a two handles on the side, the big one, that’s for rolling out pastry that has a lot of shortening on it. And so if you’ve got shortening, a lot of shortening, it’s going to roll out smoothly. You don’t need to apply so much pressure. So that lady, whoever she was probably in in the 20s or 30s in South Texas, San Antonio, South Texas, probably told her her husband, Hey, viejo, get that broomstick that’s over there and cut it into a 12 inch thing and then sand it for me and I’ll use that to roll out my tortillas.

Mando Rayo Well, that’s beautifully said, Ellen. And so how can we learn and appreciate the value of these techniques that you talked about and then honor the women that may not get celebrated the way chefs do?

Ellen Riojas Clark Of course not. Not even the family appreciates it sometimes other than to say, oh, it doesn’t have enough salt, or are you missing this or missing that, or I don’t like the way you change the recipe. But you’re right, we don’t value the women that do that. The chefs, they don’t work in home kitchens. They work in restaurant kitchens or industrial kitchens. For them, consistency, very precise consistency is the measure of good food. So their recipes are documented to the grams. You have to measure everything and cook it precisely. And that restaurant then has that reputation. The food always tastes the same. So for us as women in the kitchen, a lot like water for chocolate, it depends on our mood, how our food turns out. And most of the time, of course, it’s fantastic. So how do we appreciate that? I think that we’ve got to make sure that families understand the value of home cooking. Oh, comida casera  Like I said, I understand the work that goes into it. Understand the limitations of budget and about the number of people in the family. We don’t know the culinary practices of home cooking. We’re just starting to bring them out into the public eye. And I’m talking about formal spaces. Do it in a formal space at a museum or whatever, so that everybody becomes aware of why the culinary practices of the home have now extended into the public spaces. Because here in San Antonio, every restaurant is from Jalisco. Right. I think every person born in Guadalajara is here and Jalisco is here in San Antonio. And the reason we have so many of those restaurants is because the food is reminiscent of what home cooking was. So our comida casera is now entering the small spaces of small public spaces. But yet the comida casera has changed also. Because, you know, was a new generation 2023. Are you going to make tortillas every day? No way. You find out who sells them, who makes the best ones, and and buy them. Do you grind every spice you need on the molcajete? No. You probably go find the good ones. I think we need to promote the abilities of contemporary women in the kitchen who serve contemporary food and traditional food. And also about the grandmothers like me that probably I still cook every day, though. That don’t cook as much anymore. But to preserve that history. So it’s by archiving handwritten recipes. Some women do have them by oral histories, taping all of those homemade recipes and also to videotape them cooking. I think that’s the magic of nowadays that we can preserve all of this.

Mando Rayo Well, thank you so much, Ellen. I really do appreciate you coming to the studio. And as I mentioned, it’s always an honor to have you on our programs, whether it’s a podcast or one of our shows. And we’ll definitely have to catch up next time I’m in San Antonio.

Ellen Riojas Clark Okay! Come down and we’ll cook together.

Mando Rayo Yes, let’s cook together. [music] I feel so comforted by today’s episode. I feel so warm and fuzzy. It made me also think of all the hands that kept me well-fed growing up. And that I also encountered on my aventura as a taco journalist. As you can tell, I’m really passionate about celebrating these home cooks, these storytellers, these moms, these abuelas, these matriarchs who have what I call Mexican hands. Special thanks to our guest, Dr. Ellen Riojas Clark and Diana Valera of Tamale House East in Austin, Texas. Shout out to all the hands que hace masa and some of my favorite tortillas in Texas. The ladies that work in the cocinas. Chacos Tacos in Corpus Christi. Isabel’s Cafe in Port Isabel and all the ladies in their own home kitchen every day. This has been Tacos of Texas podcast developed and produced by Identity Productions. If you enjoyed today’s episode and are craving more taco content, go to our web site at w-w-w dot Identity dot Productions or follow us on Instagram, TikTok, Facebook and YouTube at Identity Productions and United Tacos of America. This is your host, Mando “Hecha La Manteca” Rayo. Vamos a los tacos! On the next proximo Tacos of Texas: decolonizing tacos. We skip the meat and talk to vegan taquerias and taqueros throughout Texas. And we’re not just talking about Meatless Mondays.

Outro The Tacos of Texas podcast is presented by Identity Productions in partnership with KUT and KUTX Studios. Our host and producer is Mando Rayo. Our audio is mixed by Nicholas Worthen and Everett Calderon. Our story producer is me, Sharon Arteaga, and our creative producer is Dennis Burnett. Music was created by Peligrosa in Austin, Texas, and King Benny Productions, located in the Quinto barrio of Houston.

This transcript was transcribed by AI, and lightly edited by a human. Accuracy may vary. This text may be revised in the future.


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October 10, 2023

Inside Houston’s Encuentro: The Native American Roots of Texas Mexican Food

The complex cuisine of Texas goes back before the land was known as either Texas or Mexico. In this episode, we visit Houston’s two-day, anthropologic culinary event Encuentro. We learn about the Native American roots of Texas Mexican food from both scholars and chefs present at the event.


October 3, 2023

Salsa Magic

This episode includes a breakdown of the salsas that complete our favorite tacos, from taqueria style, to hot sauces. It includes the science of peppers to a local hot sauce brand’s origins. Then we’ll go into my home kitchen to make one of my favorite salsas and how to pair them up with your favorite tacos.