EPISODE 63. Chef Pati Jinich’s Recipe for Reaching Across Cultures

Photo by Pati Jinich

“Here’s the thing that we all need to know. And it’s life lessons. It’s just like making pancakes or rice or so many things in life.

“You’re not going to get it the first time around.

“You’re going to have the tools, you’re going to have the correct ingredients, I’m giving you the right instructions with so many tips. But regardless of all that, you need to repeat and to try it many times, and to not have fear.”

The Mexican American chef Pati Jinich has won three James Beard awards, an Emmy, a Gracie—and the hearts of thousands of followers of her PBS cooking show, Pati’s Mexican Table. It’s hard to resist someone who can coach you both in making corn tortillas and meeting life’s challenges.

‘I started tasting the United States’

By letting us into her kitchen in Washington, D.C., and those that she visits in Mexico, Pati also welcomes us to the country she grew up in and the strong family culture that is found in abundance in Mexico.

But as she says in this episode, “as I started traveling throughout the US to share my Mexico, I started tasting the United States and realized there’s so many different regional cuisines and beautiful traditions.”

It’s not surprising, then, that Pati has found a way to bring the two countries together all along the border we share. In her PBS docuseries La Frontera (The Border), she finds the ingredients for stories that surprise us and defy stereotypes.

Even if your idea of cooking is hoping someone else will do it, you may well find that being in the kitchen with this passionate and philosophical food ambassador to be irresistible.

Photo by Jennifer Chase


Listen on Apple Podcasts here: America the Bilingual by Steve Leveen; on Spotify; or wherever you listen to your podcasts.


Watch her PBS docuseries on PBS or through Amazon Prime: https://www.pbs.org/food/shows/la-frontera-with-pati-jinich/.

Get your crave on for corn tortillas and much more when you watch Pati’s Mexican Table, now in its 11th season: https://www.pbs.org/show/patis-mexican-table/.


Here is the essence of the lively discussion you’ll hear in the episode about some Spanish sayings, or dichos, related to food:

A todo le llaman cena, aunque sea un taco con sal. Literally: They call everything dinner, even if it’s a taco with salt.” It signifies the Mexican way of making do and being generous even if you have very little.

Le echas mucha crema a sus tacos. Literally: You’re throwing a lot of cream on those tacos.” A funny way of saying someone is exaggerating.

Barriga llena, corazón contento. Literally: “Full tummy, happy heart.” A great way to compliment a meal at home or at a restaurant.


You’ll be part of a changing America where we celebrate the fact that English is the language that unites us and our other languages are what strengthen us.


Thanks to members of the America the Bilingual Project team for this episode: Fernando Hernández and his Mexican production house Esto No Es Radio, which provides sound design and mixing; Mim Harrison, editorial director of the Project, who also wrote and directed this episode; and Karla Hernandez at Daruma Tech, who manages our website.

Music artists and selections, in order of listening: TRG Banks, Horse Ride 2; Kevin Macleod, Quasimotion; Soft and Furious, Super Connected Sleep, Komiku, In the Restaurant; TRG Banks, Lake in the Woods; Wax Lyricist, A Bad Death; and Monplaisir, Brotherhood.

Meet the entire America the Bilingual team—including our bark-lingual mascot, Chet—here.

We welcome your comments here, on Facebook or on Twitter.

Be sure to check out our Book page to see to see why one grateful reader calls America’s Bilingual Century “a must-read for every parent.”

Enjoy the book in your favorite format. Click here.


2023-03-15T10:10:58-04:00By |Episodes|

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