The Essential Kitchen Wisdom We Picked Up From Mom 

The Essential Kitchen Wisdom We Picked Up From Mom 

How to tie your shoes. How to share. How to squeeze a tube of toothpaste to get out every last drop. How to stand your ground. How to love fiercely and unconditionally. There are many, if not infinite, lessons we learn from Mom. With Mother’s Day on the horizon this weekend, we asked some friends and family of Masienda to share some lessons they’ve learned from their mothers, tías and abuelas when it comes to cooking and eating. After all, for many of us, they’re our first teachers in the kitchen and can be a lifelong source of inspiration.

Read on for their touching, witty and wise reflections.

Pictured above: Lengua Madre in New Orleans, Louisiana. Photo by Denny Culbert.

Ana Castro
Lengua Madre, New Orleans

My sister and I were raised by our Abuelita, who recruited the help of her daughter, my auntie Paty to assist in our upbringing. We are a reflection of their sacrifices and effort, everything we do is for them and by them.

My grandma is an extremely gifted home cook, who is quick to improvise and is hell bent on never using a recipe. She used to say: "A la mejor cocinera se le queman los frijoles" which means “Even the best cook will burn the beans." I think of this often when things don't go as I expected them too with a dish, I always find the humor in it and rescue a lesson learned.

Lawrence Smith
Chilte Tacos, Phoenix

My beautiful mother Shellie Smith is very special to me because she has always been my biggest supporter. From pursuing my NFL dreams to now opening our very first restaurant, my mother has always been my biggest cheerleader.

I learned a lot from my mom, but the most important thing I learned is that butter is a chef's best friend!

Asaret Arroyo
Chilte Tacos, Phoenix

I am honoring my mami Tere, my beautiful tia who raised me alongside my parents. She embodies the female image of a warrior who fought against all odds to reach the land of opportunity. Our entire family is forever grateful for what she has done to move our family forward. Gracias mami!

I learned a lot from my mami Tere; she was a magician in the kitchen and I never once saw her using a measuring cup. Everything she touches turned into a flavor, transporting me to my abuelitas kitchen in Mexico every time. The most important thing I learned from her was that you should never ever cook while you are mad because that would almost always show up in the food.

Maricela Vega
Chico, Atlanta

My mother Antonia Vega-Flores is from Guanajuato, Mexico. She is my lifelong muse. She represents to me a legacy of strong willed matriarchy within my family. Pushing forward her children has always been her number one goal in life, quite selfless if you ask me as I see myself doing just that.In addition to being a very loving mother, Antonia is quite skilled in the kitchen and I would argue that she’s a chef in her own right. Her delicacies include atole de garbanzo, frijoles de la olla con chile pasilla, corundas y salsa de jitomate and her pozole rojo de puerco.

My mother has taught me that everyone is unique or as she puts it, “Cada quien a su manera.” In a time where people will be so quick to tear you down, even in your culture, my mom’s clear cut words have saved me from any self doubt.

Alex Dorros
Siembra, Seattle

I’m honoring my mom Sandra— my teacher, friend, and sidekick in the kitchen. She taught me that food is medicine and showed me the meaning of resiliency.

I’ve learned from her that the energy you put into your food and those around you are the most important parts of cooking. Your emotions translate into flavors and shape the experiences of people who eat your food and share space with you. And it’s okay to make mistakes. By breaking rules and trying things that feel unconventional you can make pretty amazing discoveries.