Once a week for three hours in the middle of the day, a group calling ourselves Mujeres Unidas en Fe (Women United in Faith) gathers in a church on the other side of the mountain from my home. About a dozen are Spanish-speaking women who are learning English, and an almost equal number of us are English speakers who want to improve our Spanish.
Two weeks ago, we crowded into the kitchen while Carmela gave us a lesson in making mole verde. Beatriz moved among us with a photo album from her daughter Gabriela’s quinceañera, the 15th birthday celebration that is both religious ceremony and party—and a very big event in Mexican culture. Beatriz pointed out every member of her extended family in the many pictures, and we oohed and aahed at the beaming and beautiful young woman in the middle of them, dressed in a shimmering royal-blue gown with cascades of ruffles and lace to the floor. Laughter and animated conversation filled the parish hall when we shared a feast of the mole and heaps of tamales, refried beans, and rice, followed by slices of sweet dulce de leche caramel cake. Continue reading