Food for Living: Three Stories about Healthy Food bringing People Together

by Stephanie MacLean for Co-op America Quarterly

Secrets of Salsa

When Angeles Segura was a child growing up in Guadalajara City, Mexico, freshly made salsa was a necessity in her family’s kitchen. If it wasn’t on the table, her father would be the first to question, “ ¿Donde esta mi salsita? ” (Where is my salsa?)  

Now an adult, Segura moved to Califor- nia almost two years ago. She enrolled in anEnglish class at the Anderson Valley Adult Center in Boonville shortly thereafter to learn the language that would help her reach out to the wider community. She had no idea she’d soon be helping to put out a cookbook thatwouldreachthousandsofpeople— andopendoorsforherinsideherown   hometown.  

It all started when, during the twice- weekly English classes, the students—all women immigrants from different regions of Mexico—wouldbringinsnackstoeat   duringbreaks.  Theirsnacksinevitably included a container of homemade salsa. The women started comparing and swapping recipes, soon inspiring their teacher, Kira Brennan,  tofigureoutawaytousethe diverse recipes as a classroom exercise.

Brennanencouragedthewomento describe recipe ingredients and history in English. The variety of the recipes and thestories behind them amazed the English teacher—some   of   the   salsas   utilized    traditional ingredients (tomatoes, jalapeños, andcilantro);  othersblendedmangoes   with oranges or cauliflower with potatoes.  It didn’t take long for Brennan to hit onthe idea of making them into a book. The womenreactedtotheideawithvaried degrees of amusement and puzzlement.  

“Wecouldn’tbelieveanyonewould   beinterestedinabookaboutsalsa,”   says Segura.

ButBrennanpersistedandbroughta   fistful of papers to Maria Goodwin, English editor, asking, “Can we make a book outof this?”

(Article continues on p15 of the PDF)