Published April 13, 2019

Luz Maria Lopez was born in the small town of Morocoy, in the state of Quintana Roo on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula after her parents moved there from Michoacán. Her mother was a prodigious cook, and Luz grew up learning the many traditional dishes of the region, including cochinita pibil, tamales de hoja de platano, and panuchos, as well as dishes from her mother’s home state of Michoacán in the west of Mexico. “Since I can remember, I was in the kitchen helping my mom cook, and I always enjoyed doing it, learning the techniques, from how to roll up a good tamal—messing up a lot on your first tries—to how to make a perfect handmade tortilla, and know the exact time to flip it and not be afraid of the hot comal.” Luz moved to Austin, Texas, in 2001, and Virginia the following year. She has lived in the Charlottesville area ever since, and is an active participant in the vibrant local Mexican community. Luz continues to cook the treasured recipes she learned from her mother, and she shares them with other members of her community. Never does an Easter go by when she is not cooking capirotada or tamales y atole for the Day of the Dead. “I have two beautiful daughters that love my food and I’m trying to teach them everything I know about our traditions. I’m really proud of who I am and where I’m from.” Now her daughter Princey will apprentice with her.

Learning Experience

Virginia History in Song

What can songs teach us about history?