Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Southmost Taco Tales: Part 1

by: Michelle Mejia

It's hard to think sometimes that I grew up with flautas-

Si las enrolladas…

I remember being at my grandma Tocha's house, my mom's mom, and watching Bozo the Clown on her fancy brown couch in the living room. Back then she was still La DOÑA Teodiosa--her fierce and scary name that only became cuter as she got older. 

In the background, I could clearly hear the jingle de la XEMS, a border radio station that was too powerful, even for Bozo, for it would blast "radio mexicana. . .matamorense. . .XEMS"

a reminder of the division

 Since then I knew I was (an)other person from Brownsville, frontera with Matamoros. Side by side. Bien enrollados en la cultura. Rolled up in culture-- en la onda--the wave. 

I would occasionally walk to the dining room and join the cluster of adults working--enrollando flautas. Tocha or my mom would hand me a fresh corn-rolled tortilla, that I would then take back to the sofa. 

Siempre. Always. The words I heard on a daily basis before the age of 5: Flautas, pollo, carne, tortillas, paquetes, changarro

My grandma was still the head of the business by the time I came into existence. My mom, dad and I were just spectators--or occasional helping hands--occasional hungry stomachs. This would not last forever, since she decided to sell her business to a goddaughter--I believe this was in the early nineties. 
                                                                       Easy to Go Tacos, 2344 Southmost Blvd. 2010

Almost a year ago--Texas Folklife gave me the opportunity to delve into my deepest cravings - -tacos-

con cebolla, 
sin queso. . . 
with onion
without cheese--
no cilantro--
de bistek porfavor! bistek please!

I was to do some research about Southmost taquerias . . . 

which led to the unlocking of some of my deepest childhood memories. 

I was discovering and creating an "antojo" with every question I asked and every answer that was given to me--not just about the literal food, but a craving for a family history, to a greater extent--the history of my neighborhood--of a communidad that creates stories through the food they make--either for pleasure or survival.

This is just a probada, a ration of what is to come. 

I got the tail end of "el changarro" my parents would tell me, for I wasn't there for the height or the hype--only for the spinoffs. 

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