Mexican Kitchen

Grade Range: K-12
Resource Type(s): Artifacts
Date Posted: 9/20/2009

The French-born artist Jean Charlot spent his early career during the 1920s in Mexico City. His 1948 lithograph depicts a scene from the domestic life of a Mexican indigenous woman, a favorite theme of the artist. Household work-without the aid of most, if any, electrical appliances-was a full-time job for many working-class and poor Mexican women, north and south of the border, well into the 20th century. Food preparation was especially labor-intensive. Corn had to be processed, wood gathered, and water fetched, in the midst of child rearing and other household duties. This was the daily fare of most women, who rarely worked outside the home after marriage. Mexican American women who found work in cities like El Paso in the early 20th century were either single or widowed. Many worked as domestic servants, others in industrial laundries or textile mills. Like today, some women turned to their kitchens to earn a living, making meager profits selling prepared food on the street to Mexican American workers and Mexican migrants.