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)