(July 31, 2023)
The UTSA Libraries Special Collections has received a donation of archival papers from San Antonio native and award-winning Mexican cookbook author and filmmaker Adán Medrano. He is known in the culinary world for coining the term “Texas Mexican,” which he explains is the style of food he grew up eating. He says it’s “very strong in the grassroots community but totally lost in the status quo.”
Medrano’s two cookbooks feature the more authentic recipes found in the kitchens and homes of many Mexican-Texan-Americans versus the Tex-Mex recipes found in commercial restaurant kitchens. The donation includes drafts of the two books, menus, recipes, research files, speeches, presentations, lectures, essays, photographs, course material and notes from his time as a student at the Culinary Institute of America.
His first book, “Truly Texas Mexican: A Native Culinary Heritage in Recipes,” was a Foreword Reviews Book of the Year finalist. As a result of the book's Texas Mexican view and recipes, he received a letter of acceptance within 10 days from the first publisher to whom he submitted the manuscript. Spruce Eats reviewed his second book, “Don’t Count the Tortillas: The Art of Texas Mexican Cooking,” and listed it in “The 8 Best Mexican cookbooks to read in 2021.” His recent documentary feature film, Truly Texas Mexican, won “Best Documentary” at the New York Independent Cinema Awards.
“UTSA Libraries is here to provide students, faculty, and researchers with the most comprehensive resources on the history and culture of San Antonio, South Texas and Mexico,” said Amy Rushing, assistant vice provost for UTSA Special Collections. “Adán’s papers are exactly what we look for to enhance and complement the Mexican Cookbook Collection.”
Medrano has partnered with UTSA Special Collections on several initiatives since meeting Special Collections staff members at the launch of his second book at the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center in San Antonio. He was a panelist for “Cookbooks, Cuisine and Cultura," a 2020 panel discussion that UTSA presented about the cultural bridge that food can build between the U.S. and Mexico, and San Antonio's role in preserving this rich, unique history. He also wrote the foreword to "Recetas Volume 2," a 2021 book of Mexican drink recipes produced by Special Collections.
Medrano said, "It was a huge and humbling surprise to me when I was asked for my letters, documents and writings from my career in film, philanthropy and cooking. I'm so grateful, really, and consider it a tribute to the richness and strength of my community that inspires me, the community of San Antonio's Westside."
Medrano’s culinary career started late in life, after retiring from long and rewarding careers in both broadcast journalism and philanthropic organizations. These careers led him all over Latin America, Europe and Asia, where he came to appreciate the importance of food and food traditions to cultural stability and sustainability. He graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in 2010 and, since then, has focused on the culinary history, recipes and traditions of the Mexican American community of Texas.
With bachelor's and master’s degrees in the communications industry, Medrano has worked in numerous aspects of broadcast journalism, starting in San Antonio with a Sunday morning talk show on KWEX-TV. He has had stints as a national news producer and writer for CBS Television Network and served as the founding president of the Hispanic Telecommunications Network. He also founded and ran the “San Antonio CineFestival,” the nation’s first and longest-running annual international Latino film festival.