The Five-Star Plate

by | May 11, 2021 | 0 comments


Today, I cried at the nearby mercado here in Oaxaca, Mexico, when I tasted the blue-corn tortillas with huevos con rajas verdes. I’m no foodie and have only missed corn tortillas in Portugal.

But the food here is sublime — the mamey, the atole, the nopales con salsa de tomate, the gelatinas, los dulces and nieves. I eat like a rich person — whole grain, organic, packed with herbs and spices. Epazote. Oja de aguacate. I hallucinate. Dozens of salsas and chiles.

And today, I broke down sobbing as I poured the huevos onto my homemade tortillas. Abuelita raised me on corn tortillas, cafe con leche, guisaditos with very little meat. Pan dulce.

For a moment, I am six years old, back home in the Panhandle of Texas, middle of nowhere, and it’s 4:00 pm, and my abuelita has gorditas for me — not fried — comal only, filled with black beans and queso fresco she’s smuggled into Texas. It is 1960. I smell corn, freshly ironed linens. Hear Mami’s rancheras, the click of her scissors. . . . She’s making me new panties with lace, quinceañera dolls to sell too, this time in lavender. The newest baby babbles in his crib.

My white classmates have harrassed and called me names all day. Circled me. Another long day. And I am home now.

Everything will be OK, I tell that little girl. You have all this.

You have inherited this five-star meal.

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<a href="" target="_self">Bárbara Renauld Gonzalez</a>

Bárbara Renauld Gonzalez

Bárbara Renauld Gonzalez is a writer from Texas, the oldest of eight children. Her father was a sharecropper, King Ranch refugee, and her mother was born in Mexico, a Mexican Revolution revolutionary. Her novel, Golondrina, why did you leave me?, was the first Chicana novel published by the University of Texas Press. She is also the author of The Boy Made of Lightning, an interactive children’s book on the life of the late, great, voting rights activist, Willie Velásquez. She is currently developing The (S)Hero’s Journey, a series of children’s books about the marginalized (s)heroes of Texas, and finishing her first Tex-Mex adult fairy tale.


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