A Tortilla Is Like Life: Food and Culture in the San Luis Valley of Colorado | Center for Colorado & the West at Auraria Library http://coloradowest.staging.auraria.edu/content/tortilla-life-food-and-culture-san-luis-valley-colorado[12/8/2015 11:16:25 AM] Home A Tortilla Is Like Life: Food and Culture in the San Luis Valley of ColoradoA Tortilla Is Like Life: Food and Culture in the San Luis Valley of ColoradoSubmitted by nwharton on 11-3-2011 10:29 AMAuthor: Carole M. Counihan Publishing: Part of the Lou Ann Atkins Temple Women and Culture Series. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 2009. 253 pages. Black and white photographs, appendices, notes, glossary of Spanish terms, bibliography, index. 9 1/4" x 6 1/4". $55 hardcover. Reviewer: Liz Simmons Carole Counihan, an anthropology professor at Millersville University in Pennsylvania, spent ten years gathering food-centered life histories from Mexicana women in Antonito, a small town in Colorados San Luis Valley. The result of this research, the book A Tortilla Is Like Life: Food and Culture in the San Luis Valley of Colorado is a fascinating ethnographic portrait of the way that food practices in the region have changedand stayed the sameover the last century. More than that, this work reveals the complicated relationship of food with gender, ethnicity, family, work, environmentalism, and cultural change over time in one community. Counihan does an incredible job of bringing to life the experiences of the nineteen women whose life histories she collected, quoting extensively from the interviews throughout the book. In this way she allows the women to speak for themselves and tell their own stories. Counihan asks about food production, preparation, preservation, and consumption, revealing the important role that Mexicanas have played in nourishing their communities. Food played an important role in the lives of each of the women interviewed, as well as in the community as a whole. Food was important for celebrations and in times of mourning, for sustaining cultural traditions and as an indicator of the loss of certain cultural practices, and for both upholding and challenging gender expectations. A particularly interesting chapter discusses food in the context of land and water stewardship. This work is an important contribution to the growing body of literature that analyzes social processes through the lens of food. It is also a valuable documentary history of the everyday lives of a group of people and a placeMexicana women of the San Luis Valleythat rarely receive attention in traditional history books. A Tortilla Is Like Life is highly recommended to anyone interested in the history of the San Luis Valley, Chicano environmentalism, womens studies, and food-centered history. Reviewer Info: Liz Simmons is an assistant editor at History Colorado and a researcher at a historic preservation firm in Denver. She studied anthropology at the University of Colorado at Denver, and received a Masters in Urban Studies from Portland State University. Her interests include gender studies, urbanism, and food studies. EXPLORE BY MEDIABook Reviews Photographs Video Biographies New Publications Resource Guides County Newspaper HistoriesEXPLORE BY TOPICLand & Natural Resources Government & Law Agriculture Mining Commerce & Industry Transportation People & Places Communication Healthcare & Medicine Education & Libraries Cultural Communities Recreation & Entertainment Tourism ReligionEXPLORE BY CULTUREHispanic Native AmericanWithin Colorado boundaries are lands once claimed by Spanish kings and Mexican governors.