We’re headed south of the border today, all the way south to San Bartolo, Baja. We consider ourselves lucky in that we’ve twice been to Baja – Los Barrilles.
The countryside is a picture of contrast with the waves of the Sea of Cortez breaking against the desert sands and cacti standing tall alongside the seashore, with spectacular sunrises and sunsets.
The locals are kind and welcoming, it’s truly a place where one can go to just take in the serenity and be at peace. This guest post was written by my monkey sister, who has lived in the area for over 5 years. She and her husband live among the locals and over the years they have developed a profound love of the culture and of the people. It is through them that we are gifted with stories from south of the border.
Doña Antonia ~
She lives in San Bartolo, north of Los Barriles. She came from Guadalajara as a young bride but sadly it was not meant to be and soon her groom was arrested for domestic violence and sent back to a Guadalajara where he was jailed. Unlike mainland Mexicans, (at that time) Baja Californios do not put up with such things. When the letter arrived from her groom stating that he had not only served his sentence, but that he had also purchased a home and wanted her to come back to him; she bravely ignored the request and stayed in San Bartola.
In 1970 work had begun on building the trans-peninsular highway from the USA border to Los Barriles. Determined to make a life of her own she cooked food to sell, to the work crews, from the side of the road. She tells the story that her food was terrible because no one had taught her how to cook. She had no skills; just a young woman trying to survive. A highway civil engineer working on the road crew noticed her efforts. Out of the kindness of his heart he drove her to La Paz and bought her a set of pots and pans, as well as serving dishes which she used to cook for the road crew.
Over the years she taught herself to cook and it wasn’t long before she was able to put the word out that she was available to cook for wedding parties. People from all around hired her. They would pick her up and take her home with them, and she would live with them, sometimes for as long as three days cooking breakfast, lunch and dinner for huge parties of people.
After years of cooking and catering for others, she retired. Now-a-days, she catches the bus to Los Barriles where she sells her bucket of food in the parking lot of Chapitos grocery store. Everybody loves her. She has many Mexican and gringo amigos.
I am so fortunate to call this wonderful woman, Doña Antonia, my friend. She is funny and she is as sharp as a tack. She rocks!
Recently, Doña Antonia, invited me to her home where she taught me to make her salsa and what she lacks in modern kitchen conveniences, she makes up for with her passion for cooking. There is no exact measuring, it’s made from scratch and put together with love, the most important ingredient.
Doña Antonia’s Salsa Recipe – it’s good on everything!
- wash tomatillos
- cut the tomatillos in half and put them into a pot of water
- add some dried arbol chiles to the pot
- crank up the heat and bring the water to a boil
- cook until soft, strain, and save the water from the cooking
- add to taste, garlic, salt, cumin, cooked tomatillos, chilies and saved water into a blender
- sit a spell to visit and enjoy the kitchen courtyard
How lovely that your sister lives among such wonderful people that when you travel you can enjoy such relationships. Dona Antonia sounds like a fabulous strong woman and I’d love to try her salsa. #FoodieTuesday
Thank you for stopping by, Phoebe.
I wonder if women back then measured much. My grandmother was the same – she never measured. Used to drive my mother crazy — she measured down to the last grain. Thing is, when the meal was ready, it never made much of a difference. I’m in between the two, I think. I measure but am not a stickler. Sometimes, I just guesstimate.
Dona Antonia sounds like a delightful woman. Not going with her husband really paid off, eh? Good story, Patti. Very heartwarming. Thanks for bringing it to FoodieTuesday!
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I agree Marcia, I’m in the middle when it comes to measuring. Some things I’ll measure off, such as a cup of flour, other ingredients, not so much. A pinch of this, a pinch of that! Thanks for stopping by!
I love that last picture and what a great life-story too – interesting post. I love to hear about the lives of ordinary people from different parts of the world, it’s one of the things I travel for (and read blogs like yours!).
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Thanks Amy, I would love to meet Dona Antonia one day, she has such a story!
Patti, What a story! This is my favorite thing about traveling is meeting people and listening to their stories…and yum…salsa!
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Thank you Corinne, it helps that I have someone south of the border who knows her way around and has such an extensive network of amigas.
wow – that looks super super hot — just right up my alley — I need to try this when I am in France (where I will have a proper kitchen ) 🙂
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I know, it looks really good doesn’t it, although I think the heat would do me in! 😉
Great story Patti. Made me think of a lovely lady I met in St. Thomas. She was also brave and an amazing cook:) I’m going to try to make this salsa!
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Thanks Tracey! I’m so excited for your upcoming adventure, looking forward to following!
Ahhh, I love Dona Antonia’s salsa and I love her too! If you have a chance, buy something from her bucket o’ food. It is awesome! Pablo
Hopefully, the next time we visit we’ll be able to meet not only Dona Antonia, but you and Silvia and all of the amigos! I so appreciate your support of the blog!
That monkey sister is a hoot! She is quite a cook herself. The best peanut butter jelly and goat cheese on a corn tortilla I ever ate was made by her hands. Maybe some one will write a story some day about Auntie Roxanne’s strange cooking! Have so much fun and give R and D big hugs for me.
She is a hoot alright! And I have enjoyed more than one of those PBJGC tortillas – they’re good!
Fantástico! Loved it and looking forward to making our way down to Monkeyville one of these days!
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Thanks Jill! You and Viv should definitely make your way south to Monkeyville, I know they’d love to see you and they have the most incredible little piece of paradise.
I absolutely loved this story on Doña Antonia, Patti! How blessed you are to have a wonderful friend like that. What an absolutely amazing life story she obviously has and what an amazing treat to be able to cook with her! Good post 🙂
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Thank you Mike, for the kind words. Dona Antonia is actually a friend of my friend (my monkey sister) and she shared her story. I hope one day I’ll be able to cook with her as well, although I suspect the spice level of her salsa would make my throat burn!
This was a great story about an area and the people who live there. I am also friends with the Monkey sister I am One of her Bro’s. Even D is cool!
I love the area and I love the Monkey sister and her D. Ted, we, the neighbors will be down in May. Can’t wait to meet you and maybe we should try making some salsa. Thanks for sharing your story mi Amiga #5.
Thanks for reading, Pamela. I do love my monkey sister (and her D) and all of her amigos that support the blog.
I agree, D is a cool dude. Thanks for reading, Ted, and for your support of the blog. I love my monkey sister’s south of the border amigos!