Mother visits Spanish Class

Marybell Alvarez-Acevedo
Senior Jillian Sward grabs tortilla dough to flatten it as Concepcion Rodriguez shows Sward where to place it.

Evelyn Camargo, Staff Reporter

Spanish teacher Marybell Alvarez-Acevedo and her first period class received a very expected “surprise” May 11. My mamá, Concepción Rodríguez, brought a basketful of tortilla-making ingredients to P-106. As my mom entered the room, students stared in confusion until I appeared from behind my mother and said, “I brought my mom.” Alvarez then greeted my mother in Spanish and introduced her to the class as my younger sister, Daniela,  helped me place the basket on a chair.

While Alvarez was translating my mother’s fluent Spanish words, I began making the salsa. My mother then took out the ingredients, which were water and corn flour, and proceeded to explain what she was doing in Spanish. The students listened and watched as they saw how easy it was to make the tortilla dough. After the dough was ready, my mother demonstrated how to flatten it into a thin circle.

As my mother used her tortilla presser, she said, “Este era de mi mami, y ha sido mío desde que yo tenía diez años — This was my mom’s, and it has been mine since I was 10 years old.”

In addition, my mother asked if anyone would like to get his hands “dirty” and make a tortilla. Some students were hesitant, looking around the classroom waiting for someone to take the first step towards the table where my mother stood waiting. Finally, after Alvarez persistently encouraged the students, senior William Hickey stood up and said, ¨Fine. I’ll do it.” Alvarez cheered Hickey on as he tried to understand the Spanish instructions my mother was giving him. My mother instructed him to take a small amount of dough and make a small ball in his hands. Then she told him to place it in the tortilla presser. After placing the dough, Hickey closed the top and pressed the lever against the top of the presser. He then flipped the tortilla over and pressed the lever one more time. Hickey placed the almost-finished tortilla on a griddle and left until it was time to flip it over.

After Hickey made the first tortilla, one by one each student stood up and made one. As soon as the tortillas were done getting heated, my mother distributed them to whomever made one. After the students received their tortillas calientitas (warm), they walked towards me to fill the insides of their tortillas with the spicy flavor of homemade salsa and queso fresco (cheese).

“Is this fancy food in Mexico?” sophomore Kat Cox asked.

“No, this is very common food in Mexico, and sometimes there is not enough money to even buy cheese, so sometimes the tortilla is just eaten with salsa,” I replied.

Mouths dropped open, but Alvarez and my mother backed me up and agreed with what I said. Students were surprised that this simple Mexican dish was what many families would eat every day because of the lack of money.

Furthermore, some students went back and served themselves another flavorful tortilla. Senior Sean McDonald kept going back for more and even went on to place some tortillas in a napkin for later. Surprisingly, the salsa was tolerable even though I made it extra picante (spicy).

The class’s willingness to actually try an authentic tortilla took my mother by surprise because she thought that the students were going to make fun of her. She had explained to me earlier that day that she thought no one would actually want to try the salsa. After the students finished eating their tortillas, my mother left with a bundle of thank you’s and a huge smile on her face.