This month, we sat down with chef, content creator and cookbook author, Andrea Pons. We loved learning about her passion for food and where it all started for Mamacita.
Can you provide a quick introduction of yourself and what you do for our audience?
Hi everyone! I am Andrea, I was born and raised in Mexico but now live in the beautiful and rainy city of Seattle. I work as a full-time Production Manager and I freelance Food Styling and Recipe Development. My true passions are storytelling and food which is what led me to write my cookbook Mamacita! When I am not working or cooking, I try to spend most of my time outdoors or in nature. This year I am really looking to do more fall hikes and get back into my half-marathon training.
When did your love of food and cooking start?
As early as I can remember. I grew up barely eating out and spent a lot of time by my mother’s side in the kitchen. I don’t exactly remember how old I was when I first received my first Easy-Bake Oven, but from that moment on I was hooked. I created every type of batter you could imagine and loved experimenting with different recipes. My grandparents used to raise quails in their backyard and I remember collecting eggs with my sister so I could make cakes (not exactly the most edible cakes) but the feelings of satisfaction and excitement I received from a perfectly bouncy round coming out the other side of the oven has never left. In the same manner, my parents raised my sister and me to never shy away from food. I remember being as young as five and trying sushi for the first time. For me, food has been love at first bite.
What was the inspiration for Mamacita?
Titita Tere, my grandmother on my mother’s side has always been my biggest inspiration. A strong woman with an even stronger work ethic-- Titita Tere taught me that anything I wanted to achieve in life was possible. She raised all six children on a single salary after all. And in those times, being a single mother in Mexico was incredibly difficult and frowned upon by society. Unfortunately, Titita Tere was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease shortly after my family immigrated to the U.S, and with time I witnessed the person I love most slowly lose herself. One of the few items I have from Titita is her original recipe book which was passed down to my mother and then to me. Every time I make one of her recipes, I am reminded of the humid Saturday evenings at her table, sitting by her side, waiting for the rain to
come and leave just as quickly as the food she prepared for us disappeared from our plates. Mamacita is a collection of her recipes, my mother’s recipes, and my own. While the initial inspiration was my Titita, this book has grown into something bigger than a bond between grandmother and grandchild, it is now my family’s legacy and the way that I can thank my parents for the sacrifices they had to undertake for my sister and me.
Can you share a favorite holiday recipe with us?
Oof! This is a tough question for me as holiday recipes are always my favorite. For the main dish, I would have to go with Bacalao a la Viscaina. This traditional Spanish salted cod stew is eaten by my family every year on Christmas. The flavors are so rich and warm that it is sure to light a cozy fire inside your belly. And for dessert, a warmed-up slice of Rosca de Naranja. This Orange Bundt Cake was my Titita’s star when she had her bakery La Española running. She would make a batch every morning and run out by the afternoon. Growing up, this cake always made an appearance during Christmas time, and I now make it every year in her honor. Both of these recipes can be found inside Mamacita.
What does your personal wellness routine look like?
Taking care of my mind, body, and soul are my top priorities. I start every morning by writing my “Morning Pages” a habit I learned from Julia Cameron in her book An Artist’s Way. It is a way for me to journal and start my morning with gratitude, from there I take Sami our pup on a mile walk, I return and usually do 30 minutes of movement, anything from running, strength training, or yoga, after a dry brush and quick shower, I then start my day with dandelion tea and about ten minutes of reading. I secretly have a whole life before my workday begins, but to me starting each day with “me” is essential for my wellbeing. After I finish my wellness routine each morning, I feel like I am on top of the world and ready for anything the day might bring.
What’s a top wellness hack or trick that you love to share?
I love sneaking extra wellness into what I eat or drink during the day. I add Astragalus Root extract to my morning tea, which helps with inflammation, boots immunity, and aids cardiovascular health. We often forget that food is medicine. My top wellness hack would be that when you are feeling down, stressed, or just simply out of it, to start with food. Our mind and body work as one, whenever I feel pressure at work or in life, I focus on feeding my body the most nutritious food I can to help my mind lower stress.