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Zachary Stories

Guatemalan Culinary Rockstar: Aurelia Escobar

by Jen Gennaro, Editor 
I met Carmen and her mom Aurelia a few weeks ago at our Aji City pop-up event we held to kick off Hispanic Heritage Month. Originally from Guatemala, Aurelia lives now in California but is visiting her daughter here for a few weeks in preparation for Carmen’s wedding this weekend. As it turns out, Aurelia has culinary skills that are out of this world. “She’s not just a cook–she’s a rockstar in the kitchen,” Carmen says. “She creates masterpieces.”
Not one to believe everything I hear, I needed to test some of Aurelia’s cooking just to, you know, make sure I wasn’t gonna publish any lies. My doorbell rang last night, and there on my doorstep was Aurelia’s grandson with a care package of Guatemalan tamales. After extensive taste-testing, my family and I 100% agree with Carmen’s claims–Aurelia is a rockstar in the kitchen.
Carmen says it best: “Aurelia Escobar is a talented cook with a passion for bringing people together through food, infusing her dishes with delicious flavors and cultural richness. Originally from Guatemala, cooking is her way of expressing love and connecting with others. Her culinary skills are out of this world. From traditional Guatemalan recipes to creative fusion dishes, Aurelia’s meals are always a delightful experience. Her love and dedication shine through every dish she prepares, making her an incredible mom and an inspiration to all. Aurelia’s tamales are legendary! They’re her signature dish and always a crowd-pleaser. The flavors and textures are simply mouthwatering.”
So what’s the difference between a Guatemalan tamale and a traditional Mexican one? For starters, Guatemalan tamales are the size of burritos. Just one of them is a full meal. They’re also wrapped in banana leaves instead of corn husks, which gives them a sweet flavor. They’re made of corn flour (masa) mixed with chicken broth and other flavors, and stuffed with chicken, glazed over with a flavorful sauce known as a recado. Carmen says her mom has a secret ingredient in her recado, which makes them the best back home in California. “She also garnishes hers with small plums–my favorite part,” Carmen says.
Thanks for sharing a bit of your heritage with us, Carmen and Aurelia!

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