Who’s blogging: I’m Lesley Téllez, an American woman living in Mexico City and the author of “The Mija Chronicles.” I’m originally from Southern California and also spent about eight years in Texas. My husband and I moved here from Dallas in 2009, and I immediately fell in love with the food — the street stands, the markets, the little hole-in-the-wall fondas. I’m also third-generation Mexican-American, so I didn’t grow up speaking Spanish or even pronouncing my last name the right way. Mexico City cuisine, for me, became a way to connect to the culture. I post a lot about me fitting in Mexico, cultural issues I’m confronting, and my food adventures in different parts of the country. Plus I’m always trying to educate myself about Mexican food. A few years ago I completed a diploma program in Mexican Gastronomy at a Mexico City cooking school. I also co-founded and run Eat Mexico, a tourism company in that specializes in street food, taco and market tours in Puebla and Mexico City. If any of you are ever in town, come eat with me!
Explain your blog name:My dad calls me Mija, which is the Spanish word for “my daughter.” It’s technically a mashing-together of “mi hija” and can also be written m’ija. It was one of those words that really felt Mexican-American to me. I wanted it as the name of my blog because it reflected who I was, and because when I moved to Mexico City I thought I’d be confronting a lot of Mexican-American identity issues. That happened to some extent (example: it’s really weird to suddenly be in a place where everyone looks like you), but mostly the food took over. Unfortunately I wasn’t prescient enough to name my blog something with Mexico or tortilla or salsa or taco in the title. But I like the name Mija.
Blogging since: January 2009
Blogging from: The Roma neighborhood in Mexico City, which is known for its trendy restaurants and bars. I’m usually blogging from home, and you can hear all sorts of sounds outside my window: car alarms, a saxophone riff from the music school next door, trucks driving by asking to buy scrap metal, and a trumpet and drum from the wandering band that plays on sidewalks during lunch time. I adore this city. There is no place like it in the world.
Most popular post: Homemade Enchilada Sauce in Three Easy Steps gets a lot of hits (it’s mostly Diana Kennedy’s recipe, so I can claim no credit), followed by How To Make a Proper Chile en Nogada, which has step-by-step photos and history of how to prepare one of Mexico’s most patriotic dishes. A lot of readers and friends have told me they really liked one of my more personal posts, A Note to My Younger Self, about my recent visit to Spain and how it got me thinking about following my dreams.
What you’ve learned about food while blogging: I’ve learned that food is a direct tie to culture, and that it’s constantly evolving. Mexican cuisine is really a mix of Spanish, Asian and Arab influences. Every time I travel somewhere outside of Mexico, I’m struck with how much the food has soaked up from elsewhere. I also truly believe that anything made with love will taste good, no matter what.
Where do you get inspiration for your posts? It’s impossible not to be inspired living here. You’re practically enveloped in food smells as soon as you step out the door. For me it’s more about finding the time to sit down and write about my ideas, which is getting increasingly difficult as my business gets busier.
What have you learned from blogging? I’m surprised at how small the world is. A friend told me her friends in Hawaii had read my post about grinding chocolate by hand, and I’ve been able to connect in person with readers in Spain and Houston and Oaxaca. I’m also just continually amazed that people even read me at all. It’s such a solitary act, blogging. A lot of times I forget that I’m putting something out there into the world that might resonate with someone. I still get a little thrill every time I receive a comment.
Where else can we find you online? I’m on Facebook and Twitter, and I occasionally freelance articles for different outlets in the U.S., most recently The Los Angeles Times. Reforma newspaper, one of Mexico City’s big dailies, also recently did a video in Spanish on my Eat Mexico tours.
What are your favorite food blogs? There aren’t a ton of us writing about Mexican food in English, so I feel like we’re all a small community. I love Pati’s Mexican Table and Mexico Cooks, which is written by a fellow expat here in Mexico City. I read The Other Side of The Tortilla, La Cocina de Leslie, Dos Gildas, What’s Cooking Mexico, Muy Bueno Cookbook and A Little Cup of Mexican Hot Chocolate. In Spanish, Gabriela, Clavo y Canela always has great recipes, and I also love Saborearte Entusiasma for her photos and insights on Mexico food culture.