Mary’s Salsa

by MichelleR on February 27, 2012

My grandfather was a funny man and he loved to eat! My grandmother always made sure the household was under control, even in times of crisis. My grandmother would make fried beans from scratch and homemade tortillas for every meal. My mother learned how to make her famous enchiladas from my Grandmother. She would layer the enchiladas with homemade tortillas and smother it with meat, cheese, lettuce and tomatoes. She would layer it like lasagna and top it with olives and salsa. Then we would cut it into triangles like a pie. It was by the far the best dish my mother ever made. I remember our house always smelling good from my mother’s cooking.

When my father was a boy he used to have to walk over hills every day in Veracruz to get to his parent’s house. He would even have to cross through an Indian Valley, where it was his confidence that made him friends with the locals. He was so strong because of his daily hike over the hills. In 1939, when he was a teenager he left Veracruz for the United States. He had a friend who helped him settle in the U.S and find work. Being “Strong as an Ox” my father started to make his way as a boxer. He soon met my mother and it was love at first sight.

My father invited my mother to one of the biggest boxing matches in San Francisco. My mother, escorted by her brother, sat in the crowd awaiting my father’s match. My father, who had never let his nerves get to him before, was suddenly overcome with her presence in the crowd. It was the first match my father ever lost.

My mother was one of seven children. My father was one of six. It was no surprise that my parents had thirteen of us. When my father quit boxing, he became the man who laid out all of the streets in the Bay Area. He would tell us about the history of the Bay Area, and how certain roads separated the large Woodside homes from the servant-worker homes.

Every Christmas Eve we would take up an entire row in the Church for Christmas Service. After service we would go home and open up all of our presents. There was so much wrapping paper that it would stack up all the way to the ceiling. Every Christmas we would all get a pair of skates, so that on Christmas day we could skate all day long on the icy roads by our house.

On Sunday’s my Dad would BBQ. He would cook chicken, burgers, ribs, everything! My Mom would top everything off her special salsa. After dinner all us girls would get together to help my Mom get ready. We would do her make-up, dress her up and even put long eyelashes on her. Every Sunday my Mom and Dad would go on their date. All of us kids would run out to wave good bye as we saw their silhouettes sitting side by side in the bucket-seat driving into the sunset.

My father’s doctor still calls him an Ox at age 93. Our family continues to grow and gather for holidays. My parents love and compassion gave my family strength in times of need.








Salsa means “sauce” in Spanish comes in many different ways, the most common being chopped tomatoes, onions and chile. We had salsa with every meal – with steak and pinto beans, tacos, tostadas, even over green beans. My job, even as a little girl, was to help make the salsa for our meals. I typically save my salsa making for fresh salsas, including this fresh tomato salsa. “Salsa Fresca” or “Pico de Gallo”, as this salsa is often called, is easy to make, especially because it requires no cooking. Just be careful when handling the chilies.

Fresh Tomato Salsa Recipe


2-3 medium sized
fresh tomatoes (from 1 lb to 1 1/2 lb), stems removed, finely diced

1/2 red onion, finely

1 jalapeño chili
pepper (stems, ribs, seeds removed), finely diced

1 serano chili pepper
(stems, ribs, seeds removed), finely diced

Juice of one lime

1/2 cup chopped

Salt and pepper to

Optional: oregano and
or cumin to taste

1. Start with chopping up 2 medium sized fresh tomatoes. Prepare the chilies. Be very careful while handling these hot peppers. If you can, avoid touching them with your hands. Use a fork to cut up the chilies over a small plate, or use a paper towel to protect your hands. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and hot water after handling and avoid touching your eyes for several hours. Set aside some of the seeds from the peppers. If the salsa isn’t hot enough, you can add a few for heat.

2. Combine all of the ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Taste. If the chilies make the salsa too hot, add some more chopped tomato. If not hot enough, carefully add a few of the seeds from the chilies, or add some ground cumin.

Let sit for an hour for the flavors to combine.


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