How to decor an American kitchen with Mexican art

What makes a Mexican kitchen? Find out here!

That world was an endless expanse that began at the door between the kitchen and the rest of the house, whereas everything on the kitchen side of that door, on through the door leading to the patio and the kitchen and herb gardens was completely hers—it was Tita’s realm.

Like Water for Chocolate, Laura Esquivel

What is an hacienda style kitchen? What is a Mexican style kitchen? 

Bring Tita’s Mexican kitchen to your kitchen, her beautiful recipes and her everlasting love to Pedro. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have a hacienda style house. If you love Mexican art, you can add a touch of rosa mexicano or some Talavera pottery to your Mexican style kitchen. Why not serve your delicious roasted salsa in a handmade Mexican molcajete bowl?

What is Mexican style? What is hacienda style? It is your style, the one you choose to celebrate your love to vida, to Mexican culture. Any Mexican folk art piece you select for your home, for your kitchen, brings Mexican history to your home. It could be Mexican indigenous history, or it could be colonial history. 

Gathering, familia, cooking together—that makes a Mexican kitchen!

The heart of a Mexican home is the kitchen. For hundreds of years, women of Mexican families used to gather in the kitchen to make tamales. Sisters, mother, grandmas, all around a big table, would be assembling pollo tamales, pork tamales, rajas tamales. The young would learn from the old, kitchen and life tricks, chatting and drinking. That’s what makes a Mexican kitchen! Gathering, familia, cooking together, celebrating la vida!

Tita was the last link in a chain of cooks who had been passing culinary secrets from generation to generation since ancient times.

Like Water for Chocolate, Laura Esquivel

Mexican decorations for home

Become an artist, inspired by Mexican art

If you decide to add a touch of Mexican decor to your kitchen with Talavera tiles, you’re bringing to your kitchen a colonial art tradition from the 15th century. Talavera tiles were originally crafted in a town from Spain called Talavera de la Reina, internationally known as the City of Ceramics. Later on, in the 16th century, Spaniards introduced that same Talavera technique to Puebla, Mexico. Your Talavera tile backsplash has a Spaniard-Mexican history. 

You can also love your kitchen with some home decor from Mexico, like a tree of life. Or with a colorful ceramic sun, a wall clock, and hand-painted ceramic fridge magnets. Playfully, embellish your kitchen with Mexican craftsmanship. How about a delicate Talavera spoon rest, ceramic tile coasters or a tortilla basket? With some details, here and there, you can warm up your kitchen with many beautiful accents, like sarape or wicker placemats. Why not some milagro charms? Dream, play as a Mexican artist.

It was really a shame that as Tita was answering this questions, saying that her secret was to prepare the mole with a lot of love, Pedro happened to be nearby, and that they looked at each other for a fraction of a second like conspirators, remembering when Tita had been bent over the grinding stone.

Like Water for Chocolate, Laura Esquivel

Mexican recipes, Mexican food

For your Mexican cocina

A Mexican kitchen needs those special aromas, the ones we remember from our abuela’s cocina. I still remember the spicy and earthy smells of the mole verde my abuela Maria used to prepare. Even though I really like red mole, its sweet flavor with a hint of chocolate, mole verde is home for me. And how about a good caldo de res, with tuétano, chayote and calabacitas. My mouth is watering now, just by thinking about delicious tacos with tuétano and salt. 

Prepare your favorite Mexican dish with a lot of love, con mucho amor. Coce los frijoles con tus condimentos favoritos. Nothing like a bowl of frijoles recién cocidos, con tortillas bien calientitas y salsa fresca. After an hour of boiling, I add to my frijoles a peeled sweet union and salt. Why? Because my abuelo loved frijoles prepared that way. He would open the olla to make sure my grandma didn’t forget to add the cebolla. Every time I eat them, recién cocidos, I remember him. 

Enjoy some books with wonderful Mexican recipes here!

She was so absorbed in her contemplation of the child that she didn’t notice Pedro coming into the kitchen. At this moment, Tita looked like Ceres herself, goddess of plenty.

Like Water for Chocolate, Laura Esquivel

Mexican family traditions, here and there

La cocina es ese lugar tibio y suave en donde se comparte el cariño. La hora de la comida es sagrada. Todos se sientan alrededor de la mesa, en un ritual comparten una hora juntos de platica, mientras comen la sopa, el guisado y el postre. It’s a ritual, a family ritual that brings dad, mom and children together, every afternoon.  

Unlike in Mexico, in the US la comida most likely becomes la cena. Our schedules don’t allow us to have lunch with our family. But if we try, we can have a wonderful familia time at dinner. 

Esperanza went to the best school, with the object of improving her mind. Tita, for her part, taught her something just as valuable: the secrets of love and life as revealed by the kitchen.

Like Water for Chocolate, Laura Esquivel

Mexican culture traditions, la hora de la comida

When living in Torreón, Mexico, my cousin Conchita and I would visit my aunts every Wednesday for lunch, after school. As teenagers, they would ask us to help in the kitchen. They taught me how to set a table. I remember, we would split el agua fresca into two matching jarras, and place one on each side of the table, as well as the tortillas baskets. 

Those afternoons were a delight. The conversation was about planning the weekend, about my aunts’ sewing projects, or the little candy store they used to own. It was peaceful and joyful comida con la familia. When I remember those miércoles con mis tías, I still smell their kitchen aromas. El aroma delicioso de sus guisos. I loved pouring the agua fresca into those hand blown glass pitchers, and smell the lime, the horchata, and the jamaica flavors.

Soups can cure any illness, whether physical or mental —at least, that was Chencha’s firm belief, and Tita’s too, although she hadn’t given sufficient credit to it for quite some time. But now it would have to be accepted as the truth.

Like Water for Chocolate, Laura Esquivel

Mexican soups! Para la pancita y el alma.

Así es. Nada como un caldito de pollo para sanar la pancita y el alma. I love caldos, and I think I owe that to my mother. When we chat, she always mentions “Me hice un caldito de pollo”. One of my sisters does the same. For anything que le fue mal, or a little bit unpleasant, caldo de pollo to the rescue! It is a family thing. Sometimes, we change the recipe to caldo de res. But it’s always a caldo, or at least a sopita. Anything “caldudito” to cure those illnesses that we start sensing. 

Last week, for some reason, while walking in the store, I had the urge of sopa de fideos. Yes, a simple sopa de fideos. I found a little package, and prepared it. OMG! It was the perfect cure to a simple nostalgic feeling, that I couldn’t totally identify. But my delicious sopa de fideo, cured that funny feeling. 

… perhaps I am as sensitive to onions as Tita, my great-aunt, who will go on living as long as there is someone who cooks her recipes.

Like Water for Chocolate, Laura Esquivel

You don’t need a Mexican home style to celebrate your Mexican heritage or your love to Mexican food. With some Mexican kitchen gadgets, like a molinillo para un chocolate espumoso y calientito or a Talavera napkin holder, you can bring the mystic of a Mexican traditional kitchen to your kitchen. 

The most important thing you need to do is to cook with love. Cook, like Tita, con mucho amor your favorite Mexican dishes. Because the secret of a Mexican kitchen is love, love to la familia, love to celebrate food. 

Like Water for Chocolate, where our quotes come from

All the excerpts in this article belong to the love novel Like Water for Chocolate by the Mexican novelist and screenwriter Laura Esquivel. This beautiful novel follows the life of Tita, a young Mexican woman from Coahuila, Mexico. Each chapter starts with a Mexican recipe, connecting the dishes to Tita’s daily life. If you read anything by Gabriel García Márquez, you will love Like Water for Chocolate or Como agua para chocolate (the original Spanish version). 

And now that you’re here, why don’t you go to this blog post Journaling With Mexican Inspiration, where you’ll find beautiful journals and notebooks inspired by Mexican art. If you like the Santa Cecilia, the todo tipo de música L.A. Band, you will enjoy this post Latino Happy Songs By La Santa Cecilia. Leave your comments, and your ideas for future topics, all related to our wonderful Mexican heritage. Let’s bring our Mexican culture to our American life!

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