Mama Ninfa - Houston


(Lamb Owner) #1

Houston Arts and Media released this short history of the Ninfa experience in Houston. I still see one of her daughters occasionally at Tony Mandola’s.


(Bruce) #2

I love those HAM slices; they’re much more enjoyable than the longer form documentaries they do.

This reminds me - there’s an exhibit at the museum now (thru the 27th) on Food and Family which I’ve been meaning to try to get down there to see but keep forgetting. I imagine there’s a section on Ninfa’s family.


(Lamb Owner) #3

Oh cool! Thanks for that tip!


(Bruce) #4

I got down there yesterday; spent a little less than an hour. It wasn’t what I was expecting. Although some of the famous food/restauranteur families of Houston are mentioned in the promotional material the exhibit is more about food folkways, focusing on families and communities more than businesses.

It’s a small exhibit (it’s a small museum). There are three video exhibits, one about New Year’s traditions in 3 families/communities (Southern - not Texan, Thai, Jewish), one focusing on 3 bakers (the Junkers of 3 Brothers, a panaderia in Magnolia Park I’d never heard of and Kamalan, the Taiwanese bakery in Chinatown) and a shorter one about the Cambodian water spinach farmers community in Rosharon. There are also a couple of audio exhibits, accompanied by a single photo, one of a family farm somewhere in SE Tx and one about Droubi’s. And some displays including the furniture for a typical Ethiopian coffee ceremony from a private home.

I learned something from the Southern New Year’s traditions video - you’re supposed to leave some black-eyed peas on your plate un-eaten – that’s what brings you good luck! No wonder I’ve never won the Lottery; I never knew that before :astonished:. Elsewhere in the South, New Year’s is a celebration of Emancipation whereas that is celebrated on Juneteenth in Texas.

The Thai segment showed a huge ‘potluck’ at a temple as part of the Thai NY celebration, unfortunately not lingering on the foods enough nor offering much explanation. The audio for that segment was only on one channel while the music continued on both, making it practically indecipherable to me. Amongst the tables and tables and tables laden with (mostly?) home made foods, I spotted a box from Shipley! Couldn’t tell what was in it though.

From the Jewish section there was a hint that it’s fortuitous Meyerland straddles Brays Bayou, despite the havoc it has caused in recent years.

After the segment on Three Brothers in the bakers video I expected the segment on a panaderia to feature El Bolillo or maybe Arandas but it was a place called Ojarasco’s on 76th. It gets 5 stars online but with only 7 reviews. I think I’ll try to get over there sometime, though. As the camera roamed around the store I saw a sign for tamales!

I’ll have to try Kamalan sometime, also. Never been.

Those are the highlights, to me. The second room of the museum contained only a few food related items but the third room is a re-creation of a general store in Egypt, Texas (Wharton County) that would probably be a fascinating way to spend more time. I think those 2 rooms are more or less the permanent exhibit.

Well, you know. Houston - we destroy our history as fast as we can. So the ‘History Museum’ is pretty small. Maybe they’ll put those videos on the website after the exhibit closes.