Family Traditions

by Jose Zavala

How many times have you eaten at a restaurant and said, “That was good, but it doesn’t compare to homemade.” This is the way I feel after every time I eat at Mexican restaurants all over the U.S. I recall eating made from scratch flour tortillas, mole, chalupas, and flan. The only thing bigger than the flavor of my mother’s wonderful dishes, were the serving sizes. It was not until I became assimilated to this country that I realized the side effects of feasting at every meal. My taste buds were getting all they could handle, but unfortunately so was my calorie count. I recall that my mother never used canola or vegetable oil in her cooking; she would always have a huge tub of lard next to her stove to use in a wide variety of foods.

In many Mexican meals utensils are not common, as the tortilla is used as the main tool for picking up foods. These are made from scratch eating utensils that could pack close to 80-90 calories alone before the actual main course is yet to enter your mouth. When making hard shelled tacos, my mother would bring a clop of lard to a light boil, deep fry the soft tortilla, and form the hard shell out of a floppy corn tortilla. Here in the U.S., I have become aware of a common theme in the males of my family and that is the wide bellies. I realized that if was to have a healthy life, the diet I was raised with would have to change. Instead of eating my mother’s tortillas, I could substitute them with a low-carb corn tortilla (corn has less calories than a flour tortilla) or just use calorie-free forks. When cooking certain Mexican dishes I have neglected to use my mothers tactic of using good old fashioned lard, but instead resorted to using low-fat cooking oils or in some foods I use olive oil. In making healthier choices when preparing dishes I was raised on I have come to the conclusion that I'm maybe saving myself extra time on the treadmill, but with the sacrifice also comes the authenticity of flavor of the meal.

More pages