The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 66, July 1962 - April, 1963

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

We Texans had always an idea that Mexico was a rich country,
having rich mines; we supposed the people were also rich, or at least
the majority of them well to do. But I never saw such poverty
stricken people. Truly they seemed to have plenty to eat, such as
tortillas, a small pancake, like corn bread, baked on an iron plate,
not shortened nor seasoned with salt, frijoles or brown Mexican
beans, boiled and cooked in lard and seasoned with plenty red pep-
per (we nicknamed them free holders), and chile con came, that is a
hash made of beef or mutton, seasoned with so much red pepper that
the sauce looked red, tomales, a kind of dish made of boiled meat
mixed with corn meal, a sort of little pudding put in corn shucks,
milk, and goat cheese; this is the general diet of the Mexicans
throughout their country. Molasses they make out of watermelons.
Peloncias, a very dark kind of brown sugar, was put up in little
cones, weighing perhaps a half pound, ensconced in strips of some
cane. I never liked them, although children and some Texans liked
them.
The houses of the Mexicans are built of adobe, that is a sun dried
brick, much longer, thicker and wider than our brick. All the houses
are built one story high with the exception of those of the rich or
very high officials. The windows in most all cases have no sash
or glass in them, but those of the poor or middle classes are bari-
caded with wood bars, of the rich with iron. A Mexican house seems
more like a prison house, or an ancient dilapidated castle. The
roofs are flat covered with tiles, and cemented to keep them from
leaking. The floor is of earth, well cemented and solid. There is no
wood work about a house, but the window frames, the doors and
joists to put on the tiles for the roof.
In the common and medium class of Mexicans, there is not a par-
ticle of furniture in the house-no table, no chairs, much less other
conveniences-but they hardly fail to have the cross with Christ, made
rudely of wood, or some pictures of one or more saints.
How they eat without knife, spoon or fork I may hereafter de-
scribe, and how they set the table; well that is simple enough; they
spread a clean dressed rawhide on the floor, spread out the dishes,
by this I mean their earthen ware saucers, each person gets his own
dishes of that sort, then all squat down cross-legged and eat.
Their beds are similar, also a cowhide answers for bed stead; Mexi-
can blankets are mattress and cover.
The women are most simply dressed, I mean the middle and lower
class. They have a low necked chemise, neat and clean, but exposing
a good portion of their bosoms, and a skirt, (I think it doubtful
whether they wear a petticoat) neat, dainty slippers, (They have
small feet) a rebosa, that is a long shawl, which they fold round their
heads, faces and breasts, (no hats or bonnets are worn there) in such

454

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 66, July 1962 - April, 1963. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101196/. Accessed September 23, 2014.