People come together over food. On a large scale, it is a great way to share one’s culture with the world. More personally, it’s one way to share love. As a child, you most likely had a favorite meal prepared lovingly for you by a parent, aunt or uncle, authority figure, or grandparent. A meal that even into your adult years, still tastes like home and can warm your soul on no good, very rotten days. This universal experience is perhaps why one 71-year-old Mexican abuela is raking in the views on YouTube outperforming both Gordon Ramsay and Martha Stewart.
Doña Ángela lives in rural Michoacán, Mexico. Her YouTube channel is called De Mi Rancho a Tu Cocina which translates to “from my ranch to your kitchen.” Her videos do not have high production value. They are simple and honest but meaningful like the food she teaches viewers to prepare. Her children help her film on their smartphones. Her kitchen is not a big commercial one; instead viewers see a sizable flat comal stove and a wood-paneled kitchen.
By the numbers
De Mi Rancho a Tu Cocina has 4 million subscribers. Because of their celebrity status Gordon Ramsay and Martha Stewart’s channels have far more subscribers with 19 million and 800,000 subscribers respectively. Regardless of subscriber numbers, Doña Ángela beats out both of these stars in views. Latinometrics reports that her last 25 videos had around 300,000 views. This beats Gordon Ramsay’s 250,000 views and Martha Stewart’s less than 100,000 views. This makes Doña Ángela the fourth most popular cooking channel on YouTube at the moment.
Doña Ángela shares traditional Mexican cooking techniques. This cultural heritage is in danger of being lost so it is important work. One of the recipes she shares shows how to nixtamalize corn which is the process in which corn is treated with calcium hydroxide by boiling and soaking it. Once treated this nixtamal is ground into a paste-like dough that can be used for masa for tortillas, tamales, or posole.
She also demonstrates recipes showing how to make mole. Mole is a sauce. The word comes from the Nahuatl language which was what was spoken in the Aztec Empire —modern Nahua people, the largest indigenous group in Mexico, still speak this language today. There are a wide variety of mole recipes and Doña Ángela is happy to share hers. In its most simple form it is chilis ground to a paste then distilled with water and added to a protein.
Another recipe she shares is beef tamales. Tamales are made by spreading masa on a corn husk then stuffing them with the desired fillings. The masa is then wrapped in a package of sorts. They are a popular meal during Christmastime.
Doña Ángela uses local ingredients, many of which she grows herself. She was doing farm to table cooking before it was trendy. She speaks with a distinctive regional accent, and her videos are in Spanish but English subtitles are available. She reminds many Mexicans abroad of home, and many people of their own grandmothers who cooked with love and enjoyed sharing that with others.