Creamy Enchiladas, Not Flautas

The Texas Story Project.

Before moving to the United States, Gabriela Medina lived in Monterrey, Mexico where her entire life had been rooted in Mexican culture.

One day, however, she met the love of her life, a young man who took a vacation from his job in the U.S to visit his hometown and friends. Destiny united them both when Alejandro Montes de Oca was looking for his childhood friend, Gabriel Medina, who also happened to be Gabriela's brother. Eventually, both teens fell in love and planned to start a family and life together in a distant land, away from Gabriela's mother country. Life in America would prove arduous as different sets of ideas and customs infiltrated through her new home; nonetheless, Gabriela Montes de Oca eventually learned to be an open-minded individual, accepting all cultures, and finding a home in her current residence, San Antonio, TX.

In July of 1992, Gabriela married a U.S. citizen and left her home in Monterrey, Mexico to live in San Antonio, Texas. She was familiar with very little of the American culture and knew almost no English. Additionally, she did not know anyone besides her husband. She felt lonely far from her friends and relatives. Luckily for her, her husband enjoyed showing her around the city. She slowly became acquainted with local restaurants and stores. Nonetheless, the first year of living in the States seemed foreign and peculiar. The food, language, and culture were completely different from her hometown. What was supposed to be Mexican food was completely different from the food in Mexico. She once dined in Jacala Mexican Restaurant on West Avenue and ordered creamy enchiladas. She thought to herself, "Finally, some real Mexican food. My home away from home." Sadly, they were not what she expected them to be. Instead, she received a typical Tex-Mex dish accompanied with Mexican influence and Texas flavor. She even thought she had gotten the wrong order and told the waiter that she had ordered enchiladas and not what she believed were flautas. Gabriela realized that the enchiladas consisted of Tex-Mex cuisine and she slowly began to know true Texan gastronomy. Soon, Gabriela became accustomed to the flavor, and eventually savored Tex-Mex enchiladas.

Another difficult situation Gabriela faced was the language barrier. When she arrived to Texas, she knew no English and no one besides her husband spoke Spanish. Gabriela felt as if she had to start her life over again. One of the most basic human interactions, communication, was almost non-existent in her new American life. Her frustration led her to San Antonio College. There she took an English course and associated herself with the youth. She felt welcomed and comfortable through her new friendships. But that was not the case when she went through her daily errands. Gabriela would see Hispanics at stores and feel relieved. She would ask them for help in Spanish. To her surprise they would just stare at her and say "No hablo español."

It was hard for Gabriela to comprehend that someone who was Mexican or of Mexican descent did not speak her language. Her husband, Alejandro, explained to her that most of the Hispanics she encountered were second generation Mexican Americans who no longer spoke their native language. Gabriela learned to not go by looks since not everyone who looked Mexican spoke Spanish. Eventually, she picked up English and, little by little, San Antonio started to feel like home. Because of Gabriela's experience in San Antonio, she believes that people should not limit themselves but rather embrace new cultures and languages. This has been her experience and what has worked for her. She now lives a happy life in her new home and cannot imagine living anywhere else but Texas.

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