#4: Francie Martínez Vicondoa

“The first time I went to Spain I was 19, and my mother had told me about a gentleman who had bought her bed, and it was the only thing of value that she had. I found out where the gentleman lived that had bought the bed, and I knocked on his door and I said, ‘I’m Maria Martinez’s daughter, and I was just wondering if you still had her bed.’ And he said, he seemed a little irritated when he said, ‘Yeah I have her bed and everything else that she owned.’ He said, ‘I only wanted to buy the bed but she made me buy everything.’

So he took me into this dark little room, and the floors were dirt and it was dark and he had a little lantern – and this was in 1972 – and he pointed to this little cabinet. He said, ‘See that cabinet? That was your mom’s cabinet.’ And he said, ‘I don’t even know what was in there.’ He said, ‘I haven’t even ever opened the door to that cabinet.’ So my mother had closed the door to the cabinet to come to the United States, not knowing that 25 years later – a quarter of a century later – her daughter would open the door to that cabinet.

I opened that little cabinet and I realized that I was the connection between the past generation and the future, that if I didn’t write those recipes down and do something, that they would be lost forever. So at that moment I started writing recipes and I started interviewing some of the immigrants that had come in the early-1900s and I put the book together.”

(Near Sacramento, CA. June 15, 2013)