It’s not often that someone truly sees you. That they observe your way of being in a way that without knowing your story triggers empathy and connection. As I stood outside waiting for my ride, Claudia Rosas outstretched her hand placing it gently above my heart. “You don’t have to carry this pain anymore,” she said. “It’s okay to let go now.” Then she hugged me and flashed a brilliant smile waving goodbye as my crew and I headed back to our hotel for the night.
In the car, my photographer Adele and videographer Natasha both exclaimed, “Wow! She really got you!” Both had some intimate knowledge of some tough things I was going through. Our conversation quickly turned into recapping the events of the day. The truly magical, touching and emotional experience we had spent cooking and learning with Claudia and her family. The impact of her words didn’t leave me for the rest of the night.
Claudia Rosas is a single mom and an Indigenous woman from the Totonac peoples, who understands what it means to be seen, and more often — not seen. Despite the discrimination, misogyny and racism she has faced, Claudia is thriving. Her mother is her mentor and rock. Her two children are her inspiration and joy. Together they offer one of the most profound cooking experiences you’ll ever encounter.
“In Mexico, we have this problem. We cannot say we are racist, but in the society there is classism. Hierarchy,” she explains.
“The society doesn’t accept you if you are Indigenous. And I want to show the people my ancestor’s story. That I am proud of my roots.”
When we visited Claudia and her family it was in February, pre-pandemic. We were hosted in a modest apartment in the Lomas Hermosa neighbourhood of Mexico City, where she immersed you in the magic on her Indigenous roots through cooking and storytelling. Dressed in traditional clothing, she speaks a fluid mix of Spanish and English about the dishes you will be preparing together.
She takes care to explain the history of the ingredients, their medicinal properties and how the flavors work together to produce delicious soul food. She is also not shy at all about sharing the challenges she has faced raising two Afro-Mexican children with Indigenous roots in a society where mainstream Mexican culture adheres more closely to its colonial roots.
“We’re forgetting the principles of the Indigenous people. The generation doesn’t want to continue with their languages or with their stories or with their recipes because we feel embarrassed,” says Claudia.
“I learned that you need to set your value because society will never give you this.”
It is clear that Claudia recognizes the power of her ancestral history as an anchor point for her family.
“The ancestors teach that food is a blessing from the Gods. And we forget this beautiful process.”
“When you receive something from the earth, you need to say, “Mother Earth, thank you for this”… After you offer the earth different things, flowers and fruit to say thank you. My ancestors taught me that we have a gift in our hands.”
And the food we cooked together was incredible. Grilled plantains, stewed cactus, grinding together the ingredients for mole and flattening and cooking tortillas. It felt like sharing a family meal, even though we’d only just met hours earlier.
“When you prepare food you need to feel love inside yourself,” Claudia tells us.
“I feel proud because all these recipes my mom taught me and she obtained this wisdom from her father, her grandmother, her mom and the other generations. Because my mom all this time played with me in the kitchen and taught me this, now I don’t want my kids to forget.”
There was so much power and beauty in our time together. Although Claudia was imparting her stories, knowledge and ancestral wisdom — she was also keenly aware of each of us as we worked together in her kitchen. An observer, a human, a woman who relies on her history and intuition to guide her, Claudia opened her heart to each of us. An example she hopes will set her children on a path of strength, happiness and knowledge that their family is a powerful reminder of hope and that they belong. It’s no small wonder that Claudia saw directly into my spirit.
When we finally sat down to eat together the warmth and love that had been poured into the experience by her and her mother had truly provided a feast for the soul.
To book an online cooking experience with Claudia you can contact her through her Instagram profile or email her directly at [email protected].
Seed Sauce Recipe
- Chile Morita
- A garlic clove
- Half an onion
- Sesame or sesame
- Olive oil
Brown the Morita chilli, the peanuts and sesame seeds in a pan (They have to thunder to know they’re ready) We put the chillies in our blender or in our molcajete (mortar and pestle) and we begin to crush them, we add the onion and garlic so that they mix together, we add oil and salt to taste, then we add the sesame and the peanuts without grinding them, we just add them with a spoon, We move them to a plate so that we can enjoy them with a freshly handmade omelette.
We put the plantain on the embers, or on the flame of your stove and let its skin burn. Then peel the skin and mix with all the other ingredients. Make balls and crush them and put them in the pan we can eat our sauce and with a salad.
- Purple Onion
- Fresh tree chilli
We put the avocado with the seed in a bowl and add all our finely chopped ingredients and mash together. Add salt to taste and that’s it!