Passing down family recipes have kept tradition alive and thriving throughout many generations. Alma’s Mexican Food is an amazing example of preservation of culture through unwritten recipes and unspoken influence between women of Latinx families.
In the 1970’s a young Concha Lopez traveled from Culiacán in Sinaloa, Mexico to Humboldt County. Her influence in the kitchen is beyond words and inserting the value of cooking through showing instead of telling passed down her culture to her daughter Alma Vega-Lopez. Her flour tortillas were among the food passed down.
“All I saw was her cooking. She never taught me, I only watched her cook,” Vega-Lopez said.
Alma’s Flour tortilla recipe has been passed down three generations to granddaughter Brenda Martinez who learned from her mother.
“My grandma taught my mom, and my mom would just make them at home,” Martinez said. “People would tell her they were so good that she should sell them. After that they started selling them by the dozen.”
Throughout time it only seemed right to open their own food truck and showcase the food being made. Turning home cooking into a full functioning business is not easy.
“Well, Keep pushing forward, keep fighting, and put in hard work to become the owner of your own business, because it’s better that way,” Vega-Lopez said.
About 25 years ago, Alma’s Food Truck made its debut in Arcata and since then they have thrived through keeping ancestral roots as its main priority. Learning how to cook from your elders is rarely straightforward.
“She won’t be able to sit down and write a recipe. It’s a little bit of this, and a little bit of that,” Martinez said of her experience learning how to cook from her mom.
Cooking is a feeling and full body experience. Connecting with your culture through traditional and modern dishes is something every Latinx family knows. As for the future of Alma’s Food Truck, it is in Martinez’s hands.
“I have to keep the roots or it’s going to go to shit,” Martinez said.
People are constantly astonished with the capability that women have to run their own businesses. Martinez and the women in her family are not strangers to the comments and backlash that women face in the business world.
Martinez explains from her experience as a woman in business,“You’re judged more. You’re criticized more. You are not taken seriously.”
Throughout the 25 years that Alma’s has been open, the bond between the family has only grown stronger.
“What I love about cooking with my family is that my daughters love my food.And I love to see her face happy,” Vega-Lopez said .
They serve an array of burritos, tacos and quesadillas. Including having options for breakfast, lunch and early dinner. Vegan and vegetarian options are available.
Alma’s Mexican Food can be found next to the Riptide Cafe on Giuntoli Lane,Arcata, CA. Hours open 10:30 a.m. to 4p.m. Monday through Friday.