Marisela Meets the Metate

I’ll be writing a story for each of the San Antonio Missions from a child’s perspective. In the story of Marisela, who is Spanish, there are no other girls at the mission who are Spanish. Her mother suggests she make friends with one of the Indian girls who can speak some Spanish. Marisela does so and visits an Indian dwelling for the first time. The Indian girl, Ana, invites her in, where Ana’s mother is   grinding corn on a metate, a flat stone used for that purpose. Next, her mother pours a liquid mixture into a bowl of the cornmeal. She proceeds to form a lump of dough from the corn mush. Then, she pinches off a small ball of it and begins patting it back and forth with her hands. The circle is finally placed on a comal (a flat stone surface resting on coals). When she has let both sides cook for a bit, Ana’s mother places it on a clay plate. The Indian lady tears off a piece of the cooked circle and offers it to Marisela to taste. It smells so good that Marisela doesn’t hesitate to try it. “Tortilla,” Ana’s mother says. Marisela eats the rest of the tortilla eagerly.

A happy Marisela skips home to tell her mother about the tortilla and asks her why their family doesn’t eat tortillas. Her mother is disdainful of the suggestion. She tells her daughter that they are not Indians, so they eat bread made with wheat supplied by the mission.

Marisela is disappointed but has a plan. She brings Ana and her mother, along with the metate and the other cooking supplies to her dwelling. Marisela has her mother taste the tortilla that Ana’s mother makes. In spite of herself, Marisela’s mother agrees that the tortilla tastes good. What do you think happened after that?



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