*BLOG / FOOD / Latin American food / Mexican food

The Craft of Cooking + Perseverance

Clarita Trujillo cooks huaraches on the sidewalk using a portable grill to attract customers to Tacos Clarita. / Francine Orr, LA Times

Nowadays, many chefs are often associated with razzle-dazzle and celebrity – as any Food Network fan can attest.  But what about the steady hard-workers who are just as dedicated to the craft of cooking, yet never reach fame?  Who continue making meals and opening restaurants even in the toughest of circumstances?   And whose dishes are just as good as those of any glamorous, credentialed chef?

Today, the LA Times brings us the story of one such cook.  Her name is Clarita Trujillo, and she’s been making huaraches, pambazos and other Mexico City fare for nearly 25 years in some of LA’s eastside communities.  At one point, she found fame doing cooking demonstrations on the TV show “Hola Los Angeles.”  But it was short lived.  Mostly, Clarita’s various stands and restaurants have been able to just barely scrape by.Still, Clarita preserves.  The article explains that her dedication stems from childhood:

Ever since she was a young girl, her quesadillas, her soups and her barbecue had beguiled people — at her children’s school, at the market and at the encyclopedia company.

Food was the one thing her stepmother, Mama Elena, taught her to take seriously.

The first time Trujillo was left in charge of the kitchen, she burned the pork, burned the chiles and forgot to boil the beans. Mama Elena came home and beat her hands red with a metal spoon.

“She always told us,” Trujillo said, “‘Eating is a ceremony. Everything has to be perfect.'”

Read the fully story on the LA Times website.

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