Many women in Mexico receive different types of formal education. However, from a very young age women in the Yucatan are also informally socialized into what it means to be a woman in this society. Young girls begin to learn about how to be mothers, wives, and caretakers by watching and working alongside their mothers. As observed in the picture, this family is cooking Puerco Pibil.
To learn more about this informal learning I interviewed and observed a mother and daughter in a middle class Meridian family. Lupe and Pedro are the parents of four children, three daughters and one son. Two daughters have married and moved out. One daughter, Jenifer (21 years old) remains along with the son Pedro Pablo (31).
Lupe explained that in her house the women are expected to handle the cooking and the serving of food. In the four weeks that I have lived with the family, I have found this to always be the case. Lupe and Jenifer set the table, cook the food, serve the food, clean the table and wash the dishes. Lupe told me that her daughters began learning to serve meals as soon as they were old enough to understand commands and walk.
Cooking food comes a bit later (the young women must be able to reach the stove) but the female children begin observing the mother cook the “almuerzo”(generous mid-day meal) from very young.
The women spend at least two hours a day together in the kitchen, preparing the food, and the young female children begin this tradition by scurrying around the mother’s feet while she does the cooking. Thus, even from a young age the female child learns about the appliances in the kitchen and is exposed to the sites and sounds of the place where she may spend much time in the future.