What Does Our Mexican-American Hyphen Look Like? - Sietefoods.com

We say that our “hyphen” is the symbolic way of explaining our Mexican-American culture—explaining that our culture is neither solely Mexican nor solely American, but rather the combination of both. But, our hyphen is also literal. It is the literal symbol (-) that bridges, connects, and ties our cultures together into the singular “Mexican-American.” 

Beyond literal translation of what our hyphen looks like in text, are symbolic stories, experiences, traditions, and relics that the Garza family shared with us, prompted by the question: “What does your Mexican-American hyphen look like?”

Miguel Garza Siete Family Foods

Q: What does your Mexican-American hyphen look like?
A: My family gathering around the table for a meal because it’s a Tuesday—which is to say, “My family gathering together 'just because.'” In my household growing up (and now at Siete, too), family comes first. We don’t really need any reason beyond that to come together, share a meal, and have a good time at any time.  

Siete Family Foods: The Table Lotería Card

Veronica Garza Siete Family Foods

Q: What does your Mexican-American hyphen look like?
A: It looks like delicious, melty quesadillas, or “cheese tacos” as we call them. I also think of spaghetti or brisket for dinner on Christmas with my family. Or “cheese sauce” (which is salsa with cheese). It looks like: keeping a stack of tortillas in the fridge at all times; having perfect spanish pronunciation, but a limited spanish vocabulary; and celebrating with piñatas at every birthday party, cascarones at each Easter, and cumbias at every wedding.

Aida Garza Siete Family Foods

Q: What does your Mexican-American hyphen look like?
A: It looks like me, and my life. It’s being proud of who I am as an individual—both independent of, and in relation to my mexican heritage. It’s growing up proud of who I am because of the love and respect I have for my roots and my family, as my mother taught me.

But it’s not just one thing—I think of my mother running around the kitchen. She was so fast, and always, always, always playing mexican music in the background. We (the kids), would sit and watch her run around the kitchen because she could do it faster and better than us. For fear of us messing up a meal, she only trusted us to do the chopping!

It also looks like my grandparents living next door, coming over and leaning against the wall, watching over us. It’s being told, “Don’t run on the grass!” from our Grandmother Cha Cha. It's honoring and respecting my grandparents, parents, and never talking back.

It looks like memories of my childhood household, and who I’ve become living in the world far from the border.

Siete Family Lotería Card

Linda Garza Siete Family Foods

Q: What does your Mexican-American hyphen look like? 
A: La Virgen de Guadalupe—my grandmother’s home was filled with relics and paintings of La Virgen. She was so devoted. I still have a beautiful pewter statue of La Virgen in my home that my Grandma Alicia brought to me from Mexico about 20 years ago.

La Virgen de Guadalupe Siete Lotería Card

Rob Garza Siete Family Foods

Q: What does your Mexican-American hyphen look like?
A: Siete Family Foods Logo

Becky Siete Family Foods

Q: What does your Mexican-American hyphen look like? 
A: Laredo, TX—or rather, the influence of growing up in a bordertown like Laredo. For example, I don’t speak Spanish, yet I can’t bring myself to say “underwear”—we call themchones. Boogers aremocos and feet are patitas in my house. 

Like most discussions around our Siete culture, the Garza's answers to the questions of W
hat is The Hyphen?, What Does our Mexican-American Hyphen Feel Like?, What Does our Mexican-American Hyphen Taste Like?—and now, What Does our Mexican-American Hyphen Look Like?—are nuanced. For some, it looks like a family relic of La Virgen de Guadalupe. For others, it looks like the traditions of gathering around spaghetti on Christmas. To each Garza, however, our hyphen is both literal and symbolic of connection. It’s what connects our past—our family, our roots, our traditions—with our present values and practices, like always putting family first, and being proud of our family culture.