Popular YouTube Channel Provides a Look at My Great-Grandmother’s Life on a Rural Mexican Rancho

Watching the popular YouTube channel "De Mi Rancho a Tu Cocina" is like stepping back in time.

Did your ancestors live on a rural Mexican rancho? If so, you will want to subscribe to this fabulous YouTube channel. Even those who are not of Mexican descent, but who are just into authentic cooking, culinary history, or experiencing new cultures will want to follow this channel.

I presented at the We Are Cousins Genealogy Conference this Friday, which was hosted by my friend and colleague Moises Garza. The conference focused exclusively on Mexican genealogy, and I presented a case study about my paternal family line that is from a small rural rancho in the state of San Luis Potosí, Mexico, called Rancho Temaxcal. While socializing and chatting the virtual happy hour afterwards with other presenters and attendees, the conversation of course drifted many times to Mexican cuisine, and how diverse it is region by region, as well as among Mexican communities in the United States. I brought up the YouTube channel “De Mi Rancho a Tu Cocina” and was pleasantly surprised to learn that not everyone in the group had heard of it. So that gave me an opportunity to talk about it and show one of the videos. Everyone fell instantly in love.

That made me realize that I have never shared here about this YouTube channel.

The YouTube Sensation Abuela

De Mi Rancho a Tu Cocina” (translation: “From my rancho to your kitchen”) is a YouTube channel featuring Doña Ángela Garfias Vázquez, a grandmother, from the Mexican state of Michoacán. Doña Ángela shares her simple every day family recipes and dishes, which she cooks from her rural rancho home. The videos are in Spanish, are uploaded frequently, and usually run between 6 to 10 minutes long. The channel’s first video launched on 20 August 2019, and it currently has over 2 million views. The channel currently has 3.19 million subscribers! She also has a Facebook Page you can follow.

I first learned about Doña Angela and her YouTube channel from this September 2019 article on Remezcla. I immediately sent the YouTue channel link to my dad, who was raised by his immigrant grandmother (we called her Nana), who was born and raised in Rancho Temaxcal, a small rural rancho in the state of San Luis Potosí, Mexico. Dad’s response back to me?

I learn[ed] from Nana by watching her cook. If she had taught it would have been similar. It brought back memories of being in the kitchen with her and brought tears to my eyes. I make my mole very similar. It made my mouth water.1

Every single one of Doña Ángela’s videos makes my mouth water!

My Favorite Video

Gorditas are one of the foods I discovered when I visited my ancestral region in San Luis Potosí in 2017. I had heard of them, but had never tried them. They are one of my favorite memories from that special trip. Dad, my niece, and I stuffed ourselves full with gorditas when visiting Villa Armadillo de los Infante, right across from the church in which my dad’s grandma was baptized and married. While watching the cook make these on the comal, Dad told me stories about his grandmother making gorditas throughout his childhood.

June 2020 Interview with Doña Ángela

Get to know Doña Ángela better in this recent media interview.

English Subtitles

If you do not speak Spanish (I am far from fluent), some of the videos include English captions (subtitles). This help article from Google explains how to turn on the captions feature, and how to select English captions if they already exist for a particular video. If English does not show up as an option, that is because English captions have not yet been added. Spanish captions are available for every video, so the YouTube channel manager appears to have enabled YouTube’s auto-captioning service. But because the videos are created in Spanish, the auto-captioning service generates Spanish captions (for those with hearing impairments, or who just like the convenience of reading the video content). Someone has to manually choose to generate English captions (or captions in other language) on a video-by-video basis. That would be a ton of work for the family.

So if you like this YouTube channel, and want English captions, consider doing what I sometimes do. I generate English captions for some of the videos I watch. This help article from YouTube explains how to do that. You can go with the auto-generated default English captions, which always gave some errors. But you can also manually edit those captions to correct them. If you are trying to improve your Spanish (like me), this is an excellent learning activity that benefits the larger community.

Because I am always trying to improve my Spanish comprehension (written and verbal), I personally like to watch the videos with the Spanish captions, looking up the terms I do not understand. My reading comprehension is much better than my hearing comprehension, so the Spanish captions are a big help to me.

Mexican Rancho Life Today

I refer to this wonderful YouTube channel as a way to look back in time at what cooking and food must have been like for my great-grandmother and 2nd great-grandmother when they still lived on our small rural rancho in San Luis Potosí. But this YouTube channel features rancho life today. Does this represent every rancho family? Doubtfully. But this does depict a way of life still very much in practice in rural areas of Mexico.

I took my dad and niece down to our ancestral Rancho Temaxcal in November 2017, and it was indeed like stepping back in time, to a completely different world than the hectic busy traffic-congested one in which we live. Some of Doña Ángela’s videos show her walking around the grounds of her rancho home, and those images transport me right back to my Temaxcal.

Is YouTube Part of Your Research Toolbox?

I absolutely love how social media can provide us with a close-up look at another place, and even another time. YouTube is a regular tool in my genealogy toolbox. I use it often to explore and research the places where my ancestors lived and worked, and to learn more about their social and cultural practices.

Sources Cited

  1. {Name, location, and email address withheld for privacy}, to Colleen Greene, email, 1 October 2019, “Mexican Aubela’s YouTube cooking channel”; privately held by Colleen Greene, colleen.e.greene@gmail.com}, Placentia, California.

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