Authentic Tortillas and Beans | Kitchen Explorers | PBS Food

Authentic Tortillas and Beans


National Hispanic Heritage Month is an annual month long observation from September 15th through October 15th. It recognizes the contributions of Hispanic Americans and celebrates Hispanic heritage and culture in the United States.

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month I’ve asked Mexican-American food blogger, Gabriela Lopez of Gabriela’s Kitchen, to share one of her favorite recipes from her childhood.

As you will see, her childhood memories in the kitchen have not only kept her connected to her culture but has greatly influenced her relationship with food and family.

“My grandmother’s gas stove had four burners and all four were always full. On one she’d simmer a huge pot of pinto beans, on two others a pot of New Mexican green chile and another of red chile. On the front burner she’d flip flour tortillas on a hot comal or griddle and lovingly stack the hot, handmade tortillas between a folded soft clean kitchen towels. This was the meal I’d look forward to with each weekly visit to my grandma Ida and grandpa Lorenzo’s adobe home.

“I learned how to clean beans at their kitchen table where it was my grandpa’s job to remove the out-of-place pebbles and malformed frijoles. The black, shriveled, broken, and small beans got tossed aside. Grandma would then rinse the plump freckled beans, put them in a big pot with a few slices of bacon and place them atop the gas stove to cook for three hours. Two and a half hours in, she’d add salt and simmer them for a half a hour more.  The end result was simple, humble and soul filling.

“My grandma Ida would let my brother and I help knead and roll-out the dough for the tortillas. Although ours weren’t perfect round discs my grandma would cook them up on the comal. My brother would eat his immediately, while I was so proud that I’d take it home and keep it until my mother convinced me that I would make one next week and I would sorrowfully toss away the stale tortilla.

“We learned the importance of coming together as a family to create and share in a meal through these experiences as small children in the kitchen. Allowing children to take on small tasks like cleaning beans or kneading and rolling out dough gives them the confidence and interest in cooking that will not only provide them with fond memories but also help them have a healthy and happy relationship with food for the rest of their lives.”

Gabriela Lopez was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico and currently lives in New York City. She is the publisher of Gabriela’s Kitchen, a Latin recipe focused blog and is mentored by legendary chef, cookbook author, and restauranter, Zarela Martinez.  She highly recommends Martinez’s cookbooks but especially her first, “Food From My Heart” which is part memoir and part cookbook and documents her experience growing up on a ranch in Mexico.

Other noteworthy Latino food blogs worth exploring:

Zarela Martinez’ Website
Pati’s Mexican Table:
The Otherside of the Tortilla:
A Chica Bakes:
The Mija Chronicles:
Cooking in Mexico :

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