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  • Interview with Teresa Virgen Castro / Una Entrevista con Teresa Virgen Castro
  • Charles H. Rowell, Marcus Jones, and Florentino Flores Castro
  • Interview with Teresa Virgen Castro
  • Charles H. Rowell, Marcus Jones, and Florentino Flores Castro

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Christina Lopez de Blanco and her grandchild
Mata Clara, Mexico

Photo by Marcus D. Jones © 2007

[End Page 122]

This interview took place on February 21, 2007, in Mata Clara, Veracruz, Mexico.

ROWELL: Have you lived in this community all of your life?

CASTRO: Yes, I am from Mata Clara. San Francisco, Mata Clara, Cuitlahuac municipality, Veracruz.

JONES: Have you lived here all your life?

CASTRO: It's been three years since I came back. The whole time I was gone I worked in Mexico City.

ROWELL: Why did you return here? Was it love for this community? Did you miss it?

CASTRO: I worked my entire life in the kitchen. I don't know if the two of you have been to Mexico City before. I worked in a very prestigious restaurant, Night and Day. That was its name, but it no longer exists. It's located at Insurgentes and Reforma. That business was very beautiful. It was already running when Mexican composer Agustin Lara was alive, serving food a la carte, whatever the client wanted.

JONES: But now it's closed?

CASTRO: Yes, it is. A Mexican man bought it, and he neglected it. They found drugs on him, and that was the end of the restaurant.

ROWELL: What is your favorite food to cook? What is your favorite recipe?

CASTRO: I liked to make everything, because everything was served à la carte. There, we made filet mignon, steak in mustard sauce, garlic steak, garlic soup, onion soup, dried-beef soup—whatever the client wanted. It was all Mexican food. The owner was an Arab, so then we would make Arabian food, including tabouleh salad, sour cream, ground beef with wheat. A lot of Arabian food was made when I started working there. We made [End Page 123] whatever the owner wanted: everything from "pozole" to hot-flower soup, to jalapeno broth. There was also a dish called Texas-Style Chicken. That was it: I worked my whole life. Now I've been retired for three years.

JONES: And how many years did you spend there?

CASTRO: About forty years.

ROWELL: Is there a dish or any particular food that is common to this city, as some dishes are common to the city of Veracruz? For example, there are some dishes, say Fish Veracruzana, Chicken Veracruzana. Is there a dish that is particular to Mata Clara?

CASTRO: Here, for important celebrations- fifteen-yearbirthdays or weddings-we make roasted pork, mole, little bean tamales (so we don't have to give out too many tortillas), and rice. There are very few occasions when they serve spaghetti or something like that. People are more accustomed to rice, to mole, to roasted pork, and little bean tamales.

ROWELL: What does it mean to you if someone says you're Afro-mestiza or of African descent? What does it mean to you that this community contains people of African descent?

CASTRO: The people from here?

JONES: For instance, if we're on the street and someone says, "She's Afro-mestiza; she's a black Mexican." What does that mean to you?

CASTRO: Actually, we have—according to people in Mexico City—we have a Veracruz accent. But I don't feel that I have it. Even so, they immediately identify me as being from Veracruz.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Maybe it's because of the cursing, right?

CASTRO: I don't know, but maybe it is because of that. Then they say, "She's from Veracruz," because we have a reputation for being foul-mouthed. But it's because that's how it is. And here, it's not as bad as in Alvarado, where people address each other on the basis of curses against each other's mothers.

JONES: I know. I have a friend in Alvarado. Every word is something . . .

CASTRO: Special.

FLORES CASTRO: The thing is that throughout the whole country and different parts of the world, Veracruz is known...


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