A Mexican Grandmother Finds the Right Recipe for Culinary Stardom ~ NYT

Through her YouTube videos, Doña Ángela has become among the most watched and beloved cooks in the crowded market of online food shows. But what explains her widespread popularity?

A middle-aged man and an older woman appear in a mirror below a flat-screen television set with the image of an older woman in an apron with her hands clasped in front of her, posing with ingredients for a cooking demonstration.
Bradley Coss and his mother, Cruz Ortiz, watch Doña Ángela’s YouTube cooking videos from their home in El Paso. “You can see in my mom the genuine joy it brings her to watch those videos.” Mr. Coss said.Credit…Ivan Pierre Aguirre for The New York Times

By Eduardo Medina

March 30, 2023

With a small stack of handmade tortillas at her side, a shy Mexican grandmother in a purple apron looked at the camera and introduced herself to the world.

“I’m going to present to you this recipe,” Doña Ángela, or Mrs. Ángela, says in her first YouTube video, from August 2019, speaking Spanish in a dulcet tone that creaks slightly like a sturdy barn door. “I hope you like it.”

Millions of people did. And they have adored her ever since.

Mrs. Ángela, whose full name is Ángela Garfias Vázquez, has quickly become one of the most watched and beloved cooks in the extremely crowded market of online food shows. The roughly five- to 10-minute videos are recorded at her ranch in Michoacan, Mexico, by her daughter, who tracks her dicing of onions and grinding of corn with a phone camera.

Mrs. Ángela’s channel, “De Mi Rancho a Tu Cocina,” which means “from my ranch to your kitchen,” has more than 437 million views.

That is more views than Martha Stewart’s channel (roughly 172 million) and the NYT Cooking channel (about 72 million) combined. She has nearly overtaken the Food Network’s YouTube page, which has about 590 million views and hosts several big names in food entertainment.

What explains Mrs. Ángela’s popularity?

“The kind of rural space that Doña Ángela represents is not as visible in food media,” said Ignacio Sánchez Prado, a professor of Spanish and Latin American studies at Washington University in St. Louis, who specializes in Mexican culture. “And I think she hit a nerve with that.”

Many fans and Mexican cuisine experts believe the appeal lies in her grandmotherly aura, which particularly enchants people of Latin American descent who see their abuelas, or grandmothers, in Mrs. Ángela: her shirts flecked with flowers, the dark spots on her hands and a mysterious ability to handle burning-hot tortillas without flinching.

“It’s so layered,” said Tiffany Holz of Bettendorf, Iowa, a longtime fan of Mrs. Ángela’s whose grandmother is from Mexico. “Just every ingredient, every article she uses. It’s all these little revelations of memories coming back to you.”

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