La Olla Mágica

Visual Credit: Melissa Morales

Recipe: Sopa de Fideo


  • One Pack of Fideo Noodles
  • 3-4 Roma Tomatoes 
  • 1 Onion (¼) 
  • 3-4 Cloves of Garlic
  • 1 TBSP of Garlic Salt 
  • ½ Small can of Tomato Sauce (Opt.) 
  • Chicken Bouillon (Opt.) 


  1. In a blender, blend together 3-4 Roma Tomatoes, ¼ Onion, 3-4 Cloves of Garlic, 3-4 Cloves of Garlic, Roughly 1 ½ Cups of water, 1 TBSP Garlic Salt, 2 ½ Small Can of Tomato Sauce (opt), 1 cube of Chicken Bouillon (opt). Blend till smooth. 
  2. Add mixture to a pot and boil the fideo noodles with the mixture for 10-15 minutes or until noodles are soft. (add water as needed) Should be brothy due to the soup-like nature of the dish. 


As my grandma’s 2004 Chevy pulls up the driveway to the humble house that rests quietly at the end of the cul-de-sac, the beckoning smell of “sopita” calls my name. The heat harshly reflects off the pavement and into my face, yet the taste of the hot soupy concoction is luring me to the kitchen. La Cocina was Mamá Cata’s dominion, it was her kingdom. She wielded healing powers within her brittle wooden spoon, seasoned with years of birthdays, colds, Quincés, and December 24ths. The aroma of her sopita called family from across the city; even if it was 80+ degrees outside. Nonetheless, we all crowded the small kitchen to get a hearty serving of her labor of love. With her dedicated olla, despite falling apart from years of overexertion, she managed to heal the whole family. Neighbors, friends, cousins, Tias, and Tios all gathered around the inviting table to get a taste of the magic potion.

Her sopita nurtured us when we were sick; it made me feel better after scraping my knee, comforted me after getting teased on the playground, and reached the very parts of my “alma” I never fully realized. Her little cabinet was crowded with spices – garlic, chile de arbol, ancho, and more – these were her tools that kept us going. She made me feel invincible, she inspired me to push through on days when I had nothing left. It was as if feeding us fed her soul. She built the foundation of our family through her food, it brought us together and protected us. These memories, that are inextricably tied to food, keep me driven today. I want everyone to feel the magic she left behind. Although she is gone, she sewed familia, comida, and alma into a beautiful tapestry, woven to protect the connections of a community.

Making these recipes accessible to the Latine community here on campus helps further connect us as a familia. Coming to UCLA I felt alone and lost, especially as a transfer. I felt as if I didn’t belong. I realized that my mind immediately turned to the comfort that I felt in my own home, the frijoles or fideo boiling on the stove, the chile burning, spicing up the air throughout the cozy house. I hope that with these recipes, we are able to bring a piece of our homes here. Although for many of us this is our second home, it’s a home nonetheless. I found myself fighting between my values. I needed to bring my casita, my cocina here. I needed to keep her memory alive, and add to that beautiful tapestry.

After much reflection of my home cooked meals, it occurred to me that Latine culture is incredibly entangled with food. We don’t use food as an excuse to gather, but rather we use it to enrich and build the fundamentals of our cultural practices. In almost every memory I have of a special occasion or moment that gathered the whole family, there’s a dish that has been prepared with labor and love that is associated with this. It’s this love that I wish to share. Although her dishes were delicious, the most important aspect that stuck out to me was the love and support you could feel in the food. This recipe won’t get rid of that deadline or help you get those eight hours of sleep, but it will heal your “alma”.  It will bring you the comfort of the cocina, of familia, and will provide the spiritual aspects of food that we often ignore. By turning the “chore” of cooking into a labor of love we can better connect the foods we consume to our identities. It will tie you to me, to my family, to my community. Together as a Latine community we can connect each other through the basic foods that make us feel like we belong, like we deserve to be here.


0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *