It is bizarre how one dish can pack so many memories, especially many repressed memories. As Hasia Diner states in their book Hungering for America, “Because food is so tightly woven around childhood, family, and sensuality, it serves as a mnemonic, an agent of memory."
The huevostada reminds me of when I was 10 years old. During this time, my parents decided to get a divorce. My father left my mother to take care of four children, all on her own. My mother, unable to speak English, undocumented, and with no education, managed to get a job as a substitute preschool teacher. They hardly gave her any hours, and the job had a very low wage. She tried her best to support us with the money she earned, even going as far as collecting cans
Yessenia Cruz's Food Story
Yessenia's Mom's Huevostada Recipe
Leftover refried beans
Begin by preparing your toppings. On a large cutting board, begin to slice the lettuce into small pieces, aka shred it.
When the lettuce is cut, put it in a colander and rinse it off with some water.
Rinse off the board, place multiple slices of ham on it, and cut them into small squares. (Cut as much as needed)
Once the toppings are done, begin to prepare the eggs by whisking them.
Add a pinch of salt to the eggs. Mix.
On a large non-stick pan, add a little oil, enough to prevent the eggs from sticking.
Add the eggs to the pan and slowly move the pan in a circular motion to coat most of the pan. The egg should not be very thin or thick. It's supposed to be about the same thickness as a tortilla.
When the egg is ready, warm the refried beans in a separate non-stick pan or the microwave—your choice.
This dish is simple to build. Place the egg flat on a plate. Spread the beans on the egg, enough to cover the entire thing. Then cove the beans with lettuce. Once this is done, sprinkle a handful of ham on top, and it's ready to eat. Enjoy with your hands, tortilla, or with a fork.
from the trash and selling them in the recycling center. It was never enough.
She would make us stay after school to eat school food and only be home for dinner. But our dinner consisted of the same food items: hot dogs, spaghetti, alphabet soup, sandwiches, ham tostadas, and sunny side up eggs with either beans or rice. Sometimes both if we had leftovers. If we were lucky, we would get good ingredients—food from the food banks.
My mom tried her best to make what she could with a small budget, but she didn't know how to do it on her own, so we fell into a cycle. We would have the same foods over and over again, to the point where we got tired of them. But one day, my mother decided to get a little creative with the foods she made. Thus the creation of the huevostada. With four ingredients, she made a whole new dish that we were able to add to the menu. She would often make these "strange" food creations, some coming out good and others coming out decent. But it made dinner time a little more exciting.
After a few months, maybe years, my mother's creation came to a halt. We started to receive help, my mom was accepted into the food stamps program and government housing. We moved out of the house we rented into a three-room apartment that would change the rent based on how much my mother could pay. This helped my mom, who was struggling to pay rent before.
My mom also started to go back to school. She took English classes, math classes, and childhood development courses. She is still currently finishing her high school requirements and is expected to graduate this summer. With her improvement of English and experience from her childhood development classes, she got a job as a pre-k teacher assistant. We started to do better financially, and the huevostada soon became a thing of the past.