Doña Vale

On July 17th, I celebrated 39 years of making and selling Memelas at my stand, so it’s gone very well. When I decided to be a single mother and choose this path, I was criticized by everybody. Some tried to spoil my dream, but my tenacity is my strength and it gave me the courage to push forward.

I am from a pueblo called San Mateo Rio Hondo in Oaxaca. Growing up on a farm has left its mark on me forever. I can’t see another way of cooking than from scratch and understanding the cycle of food. That is why the only place I felt comfortable when I arrived in the city was in the Central de Abastos, as close to the ingredients as I could get.

Before the Street Food show on Netflix, I was published in other culinary books, and chefs from all over the world have come to taste my food and record me for their social media. Outsiders are surprised by how we do things here, but around the plaza, nobody is. All this attention not only brings people to my business but others too. I don’t think people often see the value, but we all keep our heads down and do what we do: cook good food daily!

I believe that after my time is up, my daughter may choose to take up the mantle. Initially, I wanted her to choose her own path because challenges make you grow. Now she is here with me learning every day, but in the end, it will be her choice.

Today, people usually talk about comida callejera (street food) in a demeaning way, but I think it’s excellent. I make comida callejera. It’s delicious, original, and the tradition of every state. Just because it’s called comida callejera doesn’t mean it’s less than anything. We cook what’s most original because we love it!