Miguel and Irma Gonzalez, and their niece Katia, embrace cultural contrasts after moving from Mexico

. February 1, 2017.
CulturalConnections-Fidlay-Family

Miguel and Irma Gonzalez, both 38, moved from Queretaro,
Mexico, to Findlay about 6 and a half years ago when Miguel was
transferred to work as a liaison with Diehl Controls, a company
that supplies electronic parts to Whirlpool. Irma, who holds a
degree in business administration, started a photography business in
Findlay. The Gonzalezes, married for 8 years, have had their niece,
19-year-old Katia Hernandez, stay with them for nine months while
studying English at The University of Findlay. Katia will return home
in February to Puebla, Mexico. “I would like to stay here,” she said,
smiling. “For me, it is perfect here.” Katia is interested in pursuing a
degree in engineering.

Differences between
Findlay and home

When the Gonzalezes moved to Findlay, it was May and they found
the temperatures comparable to Queretaro. “We thought, ‘This is
good, we can do this,’ Irma said, adding that it was just a little more
humid. Later in the year, they were initially excited by snow until winter
truly set in. “The temperature just dropped and dropped and we
thought, ‘What is this? There’s something wrong here!’ “

A trip to the bank, in Mexico, meant standing in line for two
hours. Here they have enjoyed the organization of banks and office
systems, as well as customer service, in general. “The first time
we went to the bank in Findlay, we thought it was closed, where
was the line?’ Miguel said. “Customer service is great. Time
is valuable.”

Other major differences: Taxes in Mexico include all health care
and education – you are not billed when you go to the doctor or even
attend college. The Gonzalezes have noticed that people here
like to schedule getting together instead of just surprising one
another and showing up. Also, theGonzalezes were used to purchasing
fresh food from city markets for meals to be cooked that day and they miss
purchasing street food.

Favorite Findlay spots

Miguel enjoys working out at the Findlay Family YMCA, while Irma
loves to go for a walk downtown. Katia is fond of walking at Riverbend Park
and has come to love burgers and the restaurant, Five Guys. Irma and Miguel
love the sense of community at the West End Tavern and like to shop at TJ Maxx.
Miguel said if he is hosting co-workers from Mexico, he likes to take them to
City Barbeque, because it is something new for them. For a formal meal. The
Gonzalezes also love The Bistro.

Continuing cultural traditions from home

The Gonzalezes are Catholic and have found a loving faith home at
St. Michael the Archangel Church. They said in Mexico, there is more “todo”
surrounding the Epiphany (when the three Magi visited the Christ Child) than
Christmas. Children receive small gifts from the Baby Jesus on Christmas and
more extensive presents on Jan. 6 from the Magi. On the Epiphany, they spoke
fondly of gathering with friends and family to eat a Cake of the Kings, inside
of which a small plastic Baby Jesus is baked. If you got the piece with the Baby
Jesus, you were blessed, but you would also have to provide the tamales when
everyone gathered again by candlelight on Feb. 2. Instead of wanting the Baby
Jesus, more and more people try to avoid it, to shirk the tamale responsibility.
“Some people even swallow it, so no one knows where it is!” Irma said.

A cultural tradition you enjoy here:

Irma, Miguel and Katia enjoy Thanksgiving. “It’s wonderful to stop
everything to give thanks, to bring together your family and friends and
share your thoughts and feelings,” Miguel said. “People are extra happy in the
summer,” Miguel noted. “We have come to appreciate the seasons.”

Lasting impressions

While they miss many aspects of home, the Gonzalezes love Findlay.
They are struck by the kindness and politeness of people. “I feel
very welcome,” Irma said. “When I first came here, I didn’t know any
English. People hear my accent and they try hard to understand and to
help me. The people are very nice.” They love their church family at
St. Michael’s The Archangel Church and stay close with family in Mexico
through Skype.

“We are in God’s hands,” Miguel said, shrugging, when asked if they
will stay in Findlay. “We may go back, we may stay here, or even go
to another country. But we really do like it here.”

Favorite recipe:

They love the flavorful breakfast dish,
like Chilaquiles Verdes Con Pollo, a
tasty meal made with leftover tortillas,
green salsa and chicken.

To serve four:
2 dry tortillas cut into six or 8 triangles
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cup of chicken breast, cooked
and shredded
Your favorite green salsa
1/2 cup of Mexican cream
1/2 cup of fresh Mexican cheese crumble
1/3 cup chopped cilantro to garnish
Salt to season
1. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet and start frying the a few
pieces of tortilla at a time until golden and crisp in batches.
2. Drain the tortillas on paper towels. Repeat the process as necesarry.
3. Clean the skillet with a paper towel, turn the heat to medium and add 1
tablespoon of oil.
4. Add the sauce and let it cook for 5 minutes. Season the sauce with salt.
5. Carefully stir in the tortillas. Add the chicken and coat it with the salsa.
Cook for 2 more minutes.
6. Serve garnished with crumble cheese, cilantro, onion and topped with
the cream.