So what’s Doña Cholita? We’ve been asked this question so many times, we thought it’s about time we answered it. And what better timing, today Doña Cholita celebrates her 90th Birthday!
Doña Cholita is Jefte’s beloved grandmother. Doña is a respectful term for an older woman, the feminine version of Don. Cholita is her nickname, her Christian name is Soledad. In México most Christian names have a ‘nickname’ that go with them, if you know someone called Jesus chances are they will be known as Chucho or chuy, Jose = Pe Pe, Ignacio = Nacho and so on.
Méxican women are the matriarch of the house, most importantly they are in charge of the kitchen. A Doña is like the elder, a woman treated with the utmost respect. She is invariably the keeper of the family recipes. If a Mexican tells you, this is my grandmother’s recipe, then you know it’s going to be out of this world.
Cholita is (or was, she still lives in her own house! but doesn’t still cook), as to be expected, an amazing cook. While in México living with Jefte and his family a common meal time comment was, you should try Cholita’s (insert whatever we were eating). A comment that might grate on a lot of women, a Mexican man will almost always compare his wife’s cooking to his mother’s cooking and you know that his mother’s cooking will always be surrounded in a childhood nostalgia that makes it almost unbeatable. Not helped by the fact that more often than not the grandmother will pass the recipes and secrets of her cooking to her children, but her daughter in-law, not a chance.
So in my mind Cholita became this cooking genius. Jefte and I spent a lot of time in Mexico in the kitchen with his Mum, Mirna, keen to learn those little tricks that make the difference between almost nailing it, and getting it spot on. Jefte had always spent a lot of time in the kitchen, learning from both his mother and grandmother.
And so the story goes, Cholita wasn’t one of those evil mothers in law, she suffered this exclusion, her mother in law was also an amazing cook. She even ran cooking classes, but she refused to teach Cholita anything. So Cholita resolved to not do the same, she taught Mirna as much as she wanted to know and in tern Mirna has done the same with me.
When it came to naming our business we wanted something that told a story, something that encapsulated our passion for food, something that had an authenticity to it that showed our connection to México and to our families. Something that we could be proud of. Doña Cholita is the Juarez family Matriarch, a beautiful, strong woman who really was an amazing cook, it felt like the perfect fit. When Jefte’s dad told Cholita what we had named our business, her reaction was one of gratitude. Feliz Cumpleaños Cholita, que dios te bendiga.