My best childhood memories include big family BBQs at my grandparents’ house, jumping off the diving board anywhere my mom would let me, riding bikes with my brother Dana, and of course Mexico.
My grandfather’s parents were Mexican immigrants. He grew up in Texas in a bilingual home, then ultimately enlisted in the Army where he served in WWII and became a featherweight boxing champion. He was so good at boxing in fact, that he was ultimately recruited to fight with the Marine Corps as well.
After his service he met my blue-eyed, red-headed grandmother in LA. Together they were a spitting image of Ricky and Lucy Ricardo.
After getting married they opened a German sandwich shop and hofbrau in LA. Grandpa was the chef and I don’t know why he chose German food, but my guess is that he was trying desperately to assimilate into the country he loved so he and his family would not be stigmatized by his immigrant heritage. Spanish was never spoken in the home my mother grew up in.
By the time I came into the picture though we ate Mexican food a lot. Even though my mother was the one with Mexican heritage, my father was a self-proclaimed Mexiphile and it was a rare day that our home wasn’t stocked with homemade salsa and guacamole (pronounced wah-cah-moe-lay, please). Chips were optional.