Saturday, August 06, 2005

Housekeepers, Cooks, Maids and Gardeners

Back in July, one of my favorite blogs on living in Mexico, Rancho Calypso wrote an entry about his thoughts on having maids and gardeners. It stirred up quite a few comments by some of us who read his blog. I've given you a link to go read it for yourself but something I read this week gave me some insight on our attitudes.

One of my favorite Mexican cookbooks is by Zarela Martinez, Food from my Heart, Cuisines of Mexico Remembered and Reimagined. It is out of print now but besides recipes, Zarela also writes about growing up in Mexico and Mexican traditions. When she is writing about the recipe, Chiles Anchos Nana Luz, she tells how Nana Luz has been with the family for many, many years and is treated with respect. Then she writes the following which may explain some of the conflict we feel about having servants.

"In many ways this typifies the difference between Mexican and U.S. attitudes toward servants. Here there tends to be something uncomfortable in the relationship of employers and "household help"; it doesn't seem right or natural for either side, maybe because of some lingering puritanism. In Mexico there are real bonds of respect and a sense that those who work in a household have their own authority--especially nanas!"

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