Las Tortillas de Maíz por Favor

Green mosaic plate by Lynn BridgeTex-mex Plate #4

by Lynn Bridge, with ceramics by Roberta Mitchell

To continue with passages from The Tex-Mex Cookbook: a History in Recipes and Photos, I give you a quote from Robb Walsh’s chapter entitled”The Myth of Authenticity”:

In the early 1900s, Europeans were the highest rank of the Mexican caste system; next came the Creoles, or criollos, colonists of supposedly pure European blood who were born in the Americas; then mestizos, people of mixed race; and at the bottom were the natives or indios.

This piqued my interest, since, as a child, I was vaguely aware of a similar caste system in the Mexican-American culture with which I interacted often.  However, I had no concept of how discriminatory social practices were in my part of the world, with the most native, or Indian, of Spanish-speakers coming out with the short end of the stick.  Walsh goes on in this chapter to quote an article by Jeffrey M. Pilcher, entitled “Recipes for Patria”:

Mexican leaders of the nineteenth century hoped to build a modern patriarchal nation based on Western European models.  Cookbooks provided a valuable means of indoctrinating women into this new order by emphasizing European dishes and disparaging Indian foods…Corn became a symbol for disorderly and unsanitary elements of society such as street people and backward villagers.

Could this be the reason I love corn tortillas and masa so much?  Is it my disorderly and unsanitary nature coming to the fore?

Green Mexican food plate in mosaic by Lynn Bridgedetail of Tex-mex Plate #4

When I made this plate, I was thinking of verde (green) sauce, but, also, I was thinking about how complementary colors, such as green and red together can make each other stronger in feeling.  This plate contains several ceramic elements from the hand of my mom, as well as all the forms of glass I love so much.