Volume Three, Issue 4

Making Masa

Ramon Jimenez

I mix the masa by hand
Until it takes on the perfect texture
I make a ball and flatten it with my press
Letting it cook to the sounds of hissing cast iron

As air pockets form,
I flip it to the other side
When ready, it’s time to make a taco
Skirt steak kissed with garlic and orange juice
Beans mashed with onions, suffering and happiness
Boiled and diced cactus mixed with tomato, cilantro, lime and struggle
And salsas so spicy that mouths are made speechless
All are acceptable fillings

I would never disrespect it
With grainy ground beef and the blandness of taco seasoning
Shredded yellow cheese and thin cuts of iceberg lettuce
Nor would I ever replace it with the whiteness of a flour tortilla

And I love to turn it into enchiladas
Frying each one in hot dancing oil
Covering it in a red sauce of garlic and chile guajillo
Rolling each one with shredded chicken or fresh cheese
Never putting it in the oven like my friend Todd
Who views my food like a neighborhood zoned for gentrification
All of the spicy redness replaced with a casserole of flavorlessness
A poor imitation that lacks roots, context and authenticity

And unlike Todd,
I only want to prepare my food the way it was taught to me
Because masa is everything,
Nourishment, survival, history and culture
My lifeline to a world that others may never understand

Ramon Jimenez: " I am a writer and educator who resides in Seattle, Washington. I teach language arts and I run a summer youth poetry program. I write poetry that focuses on immigration, my culture and geopolitics. I am interested in exploring the differences in power that overlap the human experience."

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