A Virtual Talk by Celebrated Author Patricia Merrill Márquez

Humor and Surprises in Mexican Cooking and Culture by Patricia Merrill Márquez

By Christine Yannitelli

Patricia Merrill Márquez is one of the treasures of San Miguel de Allende.   With formal training and professional practice in architecture, city and regional planning and real estate brokerage, she was for decades owner of a bed and breakfast/Mexican Cooking Vacation. She is also the author of the book, “The Buen Provecho Book, Capturing the Spice of Mexico through Popular Food and Sayings.”  The title of the book itself refers to the commonly used phrase “Buen Provecho,” which is so often heard in restaurants in Mexico as someone passes by a table of diners. It is a way of saying, “May it be good for your health,” or “I hope your meal benefits you!”  

With her rich knowledge of cooking and sayings, “dichos,” Patricia invites you into her lush garden of herbs and flowering plants to reveal some of the secret language used in Mexico. You will learn some of the sayings used that reflect Mexican narcissism, the use of bread versus tacos and tortillas, as well as the uses of various herbs and teas.   

What do these sayings mean? Se cree muy salsa?  Or, he puts too much cream on his tacos!  And, what is the significance of chilaquiles? And what is ajenjo and what is it used for? These and many other sayings will be explained in this enchanting presentation.

Laura Esquivel conjured up a whole world in her novel, “Like Water for Chocolate,” the title referring to the fact that emotions were on the verge of boiling over.  So too, Patricia takes us on a journey through these provocative and sometimes mystifying sayings, weaving personal stories from her own rich heritage of being brought up bi-culturally in a family of linguistics teachers. Her Yankee dad came to San Miguel in 1946 on the GI Bill and in 1949 married her mother, a local San Miguel girl. 

The explanations of these expressions and culinary secrets will delight and amuse you. In fact, The Buen Provecho Book was the personal gift of the Mexican Chancellor of Foreign Relations to then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in order to share the richness and humor of Mexican culture through cuisine and language.

Join Mujeres en Cambio for this fun-filled and inspiring online presentation.  All donations will provide financial assistance to young girls in rural communities surrounding San Miguel who would not otherwise be able to continue their education.

Your donation of 300 pesos or $15 USD registers you for this online event.   If you are unable to attend on the date, the video will be available to you for a month following.

LAS RANCHERITAS: Making a difference with rugs

By Natalie Taylor

In the mid-1990s a group of San Miguel de Allende expats, intent on helping local, impoverished women, created Mujeres en Cambio (MeC). Their purpose was twofold—provide scholarships for girls, and find a profitable, income-producing craft for rural women. Thus began the rug hooking project Las Rancheritas, in the rural community of Agustin Gonzalez, some 20 minutes outside the city. The residents there grow their food, mostly corn, beans, and squash. They make tortillas and cook them over an open fire, then fill them with beans, nopal and sometimes eggs or cheese. But they have nothing for extras like bus money, school expenses, clothing, or electricity. Medical and dental care is a luxury. 

Imagine one of these women making and selling a rug for $65 dollars. That one sale is a major, positive impact on the family budget. If she sells several, it could be the equivalent of a month’s wages from her husband. That additional money can be a small step toward getting beyond poverty, it could mean keeping her children in school longer, or getting dental and medical help. Their families and their community receive the benefit from their efforts and reward. 

A tour was created in 2015 to visit their village and store, have a home-made luncheon, demonstrations in rug hooking, stone carvings, and an introduction to the ancient language of the Otomi. The tour was suspended during the Covid pandemic and has restarted on a limited basis. 

You can take a virtual Rancheritas tour on Monday, February 28, 2022 at 1 pm. The event is sponsored by Mujeres en Cambio, with proceeds used to provide scholarships to girls and young women in rural communities to complete their education. Tickets are 300 pesos or $15.00 US dollars. Register on the website,