Papá's Molcajete

Relationship: Child of im/migrant
Papá's molcajete with salsa verde
Papá's molcajete with salsa verde

The bowl was a deep gray that contrasted my plain white countertops. Next to it lay charred jalapenos and tomatillos. I was eight, and I was enamored with Papá's molcajete. “Quieres aprender, mija?” Do you want to learn? He asked me, and I nodded eagerly.  My dad hoisted me onto the counter and pressed the pestle into my hands. The volcanic rock dug into my palm as I gripped it tightly. He took my hand and guided the pestle, crushing the peppers. We were making my Abuela’s salsa verde. This was not the first time my dad made Abuela’s salsa. As the youngest of fourteen, he was left at home with his mom, while his older siblings went to school. Papá became my Abuela’s sous-chef, and she taught him all of her recipes, including salsa verde. My dad's family left Mexico to find work in America, and my Abuela brought her molcajete to continue making salsa in Las Vegas, Nevada. Cooking has been a way to show love in my family, which is one of the main reasons why my dad enjoyed teaching my family how to cook. My dad tasked my brothers with roasting carne on the grill, but salsas, rice, and beans were my territory. Papá would sit me on the kitchen counter, or pull up a stool, and we would cut and grind the salsa ingredients. After growing into an adult, the molcajete is still my preferred method of creation; partially because my dad taught it to me specifically. He wasn’t showing me how to grill with my brothers, he was gifting me an entirely new skill that my Abuela had given him. Out of all the dishes I make, Abuela’s salsas, made in Papá’s molcajete, continue to be my favorite.  

Place(s): Guadalajara Mexico, Las Vegas NV
Year: 1985

– Lily Lopez

Relationship:  Child of im/migrant Child of im/migrant