Amazing Authentic Mexican Cuisine You’re Going Love

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The indispensable role of women in Mexican gastronomy

Taste of the Town: Yolotl Mexican Restaurant

By Angie Helvey, Contributing Writer | Photos by Brittney Waterman

The woman of Yolotl Mexican Cuisine offer authentic dishes

When Maria Garcia was growing up in Mexico
City, she was looked after by her maternal grandmother, her “abuelita,”
along with her cousins, while their parents worked. Her grand-
would take the children to the market every day to buy fresh produce
and other ingredients. When they returned home, the kids would help her
clean beans or wash vegetables to prepare the family meal. “Since we
were little ones, we helped in the kitchen one way or another doing
small things,” Maria says. “Now, as an adult, I understand those things
were her way of teaching and introducing us to the kitchen. And that is a
big part of Mexican culture.”

When discussing Mexican food, we have to talk about
women and their influence on Mexican gastronomy. The recipes are crafted
mainly by women and are passed down from generation to generation,
mother to daughter. “Sometimes the recipes aren’t written down,”
explains Maria. “It’s just ‘call mom and ask her how to make this mole.’
And she will tell you, ‘Grab a little of this, a little of that.’”
The transfer of knowledge in the kitchen is highly valued. “Let’s say
your mother-in-law really likes you, right?” Maria says, “She will be so
kind as to give you her great-grandmother’s mole recipe.”

As Mexican food influences and Latino flavors spread
like wildfire throughout the United States and the world, the phrase
“authentic Mexican food” is used frequently. But truth be told, the
recipes differ regionally, created with what’s locally available in
terms of ingredients and preparation methods. “A lot of what is known as
Mexican food now is mestizo food, the fusion of two worlds that
collide,” Maria explains. “Like tamales. Tamales existed before the
Spanish conquest, but when they came they brought lard, sugar, animal
products, and spices that didn’t exist
in Mexico and began using those ingredients in the tamales.” This is how traditional Mexican food has evolved.

A large plate of authentic Mexican Cuisine

As a native Mexican woman and the owner of Yolotl
Mexican Restaurant, Maria believes that recognizing the value of women
in Mexican cooking is more important than ever. Our society demands that
women are responsible for cooking for the family and caring for
children, but they also need to contribute financially, leading them to
trade home cooking for faster, easier alternatives. Though the freedom
and liberation of women is a wonderful thing, women are losing their
connection to the kitchen. “By doing this, we disconnect from our
family. The function of women in Mexican society
is deeply rooted in gastronomy.”

Maria has cultivated a team of women in her Yolotl
kitchen dedicated to presenting traditional, home-cooked Mexican
cuisine. “What I’m doing here is reclaiming our value, not just as
cooks, but as working women offering what we eat at home, how our
mothers and grandmothers taught us, and what we learn from each other
because we are from different regions,” Maria says. Yolanda is from
Oaxaca, and Juanita is from Michoacan. Maria and her sister Zulema are
from Mexico City. All the women cook, and Zulema is in charge of the
desserts. “Women have knowledge and tricks from growing up in the
kitchen,” explains Maria. “It’s your instincts, your history, your
memory, and we all have different experiences. One of us will say, ‘I
remember going to this town and eating this thing,’ and then we’ll try
to recreate it or make something even better.” Maria wants to empower
other women to use their talents to make their way. “Let’s open those
businesses. If you make great salsa, sell it. If you make the best
tortillas, sell them. Let’s get the help we need to provide for our
families and ourselves.”

In 2010, traditional Mexican cuisine was inscribed on
UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of
Humanity, especially recognizing women because “their knowledge and
techniques express community identity, reinforce social bonds, and build
stronger local, regional, and national identities.” “We should be
proud of our heritage, proud of our food,” Maria says. “And it’s a
matter of education for everyone, including Mexicans, to learn the
gastronomy of other states to support our culture.”

Visit Yolotl Mexican Restaurant to experience
traditional Mexican home-cooking presented by hard-working, diverse
women, sharing cuisine from their family’s kitchens. The Day of the Dead
and Mexican Independence Day are both coming up, and Maria and her team
are hosting celebrations that will include traditional Mexican food,
drinks, art, history, and education. Maria hopes to break barriers and
squash negative stereotypes of different groups. “Through food, art, and
activities, we can bring people together,” she says.

The Yolotl logo

Yolotl Mexican Restaurant is located at 13140 SE
172nd Ave #122, Happy Valley. Check out their menu and website at, or give them a call at 503-855-4732