Nicole’s Story / Breakfast Burritos and Menudo

Breakfast Burrito: Eggs, Soyrizo, Cheese, Black Beans, crema, and Mom’s spicy homemade salsa

Menudo: Vero’s Restaurant in Pasadena, CA. Served with sliced radishes, onions, and cilantro

Nicole is a valley girl, she was born in North Hollywood and grew up in Sun Valley in a Mexican household. This is where she lived with her mother, brother, grandparents, and aunt. I can only imagine what this might of sounded like, a bustle of noise and laughter and yelling and singing. It was in this home that Nicole learned how to feed people, something she is really really good at. As she set up the table she told Marilyn, “I never like to let someone leave hungry.” This is very true and was very evident this day. 

For this meal, Nicole was putting all of her favorite things into a breakfast burrito. Beans, eggs, chorizo, and papas, were some of her favorites as a child. Her mom and aunt used to cook this for the whole family, with her grandmother making the chorizo from scratch and Nicole helping with what she could. 

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As we walked in, the table was set up beautifully with vintage Mexican Talavera plates and bowls of fruit and pan dulce. The coffee was boiling and so was the menudo. Nicole was chopping fruits and veggies, weaving her way in and out of conversation only to ask if we needed a coffee refill or wanted to try some fruit or cucumbers. She would then go back to chopping and coming up from concentration to “Honey” at Josh her boyfriend or throw out a boisterous laugh. You can hear Nicole’s laugh from the street. In fact we could hear her laugh as we were walking up to the door. It’s a laugh that’s full of life and love and quite possibly my favorite.

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As the other guests arrived, we gathered at the table and Nicole started to serve us, each of us getting the most robust burrito you could imagine and served with all the fixings of salsa and sour cream. If that wasn’t enough it was also served with a bowl of piping hot menudo with a side of radishes, cilantro, and chopped onions. As everyone was served, Nicole finally sat down, serving herself last. I hadn’t seen Nicole stop all morning. Moving from side to side, checking in on us to make sure we had enough coffee, and snacks, all while chopping and peeling, and laughing, and chatting. 

We started to eat and we all fell silent as we took the first bite. The silence was broken by the mmm’s and yums and the sound of the clinking of spoons and knives. We passed around the fixings and started to share stories of food and memories. Josh and his best friend Dave told stories about their travels on a bus last year. Dave sharing a story of affection about his father. Our friends Robyn and Brandon, doting over their growing baby boy Isaiah. Marilyn and Josh reveling in their love of brass music with Josh later bringing out his tuba to play for us. I feel this moment was almost mimicking in a way what Nicole might have grown up with, a house full of people, food, music and sound.

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Once the food settled in our happy and content bellies, Marilyn and I looked at each other with half closed eyes. After a good meal one needs a good nap. We both agreed that we had never been so full in our lives. However, the amount of food was only equal to the amount of love Nicole was showing us this day. She felt like mom in the kitchen, happy to host, happy to serve, happy to have people in her home. Nicole’s generosity is unending, perhaps this is why she is one of my favorite people, it’s evident in her laugh, in her hugs, and of course in her food.

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Written by Joanna and Photos by Marilyn

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