Interview: Gilda Valdez Carbonaro and Gilda Claudine Karasik of Dos Gildas
Gilda Valdez Carbonaro and Gilda Claudine Karasik are the authors of Dos Gildas, a blog dedicated to authentic Mexican cuisine, recipes, and stories surrounding the Latin culture. Dos Gildas, or “Two Gildas,” refers to the first name they both share. In fact, Gilda Claudine (sometimes called Dini) is Gilda Carbonaro’s namesake. Dos Gildas has been recognized by NBC Latino as a “Blog We Love” and we at Menuism agree!
How did the two of you meet?
Gilda Carbonaro: My close friend from middle and high school returned to Laredo (Texas) and showed up at my house with her three year old daughter, Gilda Claudine, after living in Michigan with her husband for several years. My goddaughter Dini and I have been in each other’s lives in one way or another throughout the years, but, as a result of maintaining a blog, we have actually gotten to know each other in ways that mothers and daughters take for granted.
What was the impetus for beginning your blog?
Gilda Karasik: At the time, I was working on a project for a national civil rights organization, examining the racial disparities in childhood obesity prevention policy. Soon, I began to think more conscientiously about how I cooked for my family and what I fed my children. These two things collided with my love of writing and one day I approached Gilda, an outstanding home cook, about putting together a bilingual cookbook and blogging about the process. Over a year later, we’ve cultivated the blog. Something we underestimated was the amount of time and effort that goes into blogging, so we haven’t made much headway with the cookbook, but we still view it as a longterm goal.
You are of two generations. How does that affect your relationship, your recipes, your outlook on food?
Gilda Karasik: Being of two generations really works to our advantage. We balance each other. When one of us plays it safe or conversely is too “out there” (usually me), the other gently pushes in the other direction. This results in posts that are consistent in tone and quality. Having a blogging partner is also very helpful in that there is always another set of eyes to proofread each post.
Blogging together has also brought us closer in that we talk and see each other more frequently. It’s enhanced our relationship. For example, we may disagree sometimes about the direction of the project or the content of a particular post, but we always come through it at the end of the day with more respect and admiration for one another.
In terms of our outlook on food, Gilda tends to have a more traditional approach, a greater reverence for authentic Mexican recipes, etc. I, on the other hand — perhaps because I am the lesser cook of the two of us — tend to explore less authentic recipes. My bicultural upbringing also has something to do with this, I’m sure.
Gilda Carbonaro: I agree absolutely with all of this. As partners, you have to develop trust in what is put out there, because we represent each other, and, at this point, I completely trust what Dini says will or will not fly and vice versa. And her editing is always peerless.
What would you like every American to know about Mexican food and culture? What misconceptions would you like to overcome?
Gilda Carbonaro: My pet peeve is the almost universal belief that Mexican food is all tacos, tamales, and hot sauces, when in truth authentic Mexican food is so complex and varies so much from region to region.
What are some of your favorite restaurants serving authentic Mexican cuisine?
Gilda Carbonaro: Uncle Julio’s Rio Grande here in Bethesda is my favorite. In Nuevo Laredo, the sister city to Laredo, Texas, it was Mexico Tipico.
Gilda Karasik: My favorite Mexican restaurant is La Mexicana in Laredo, Texas. It is owned by my great aunt who is now in her nineties. She still spends one day a week cooking in the kitchen. The food is as authentic as it gets and all made from scratch. I wrote a post about La Mexicana here.
What food trends are you excited about?
Gilda Carbonaro: I love knowing about young chefs, movers and shakers in the area of Mexican cuisine who are developing exciting new dishes, which are a logical continuum of what began when the old and the new worlds collided.
What’s next for you?
Gilda Carbonaro: For me, it’s to hold cooking classes/photography/writing classes in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, and to actually spend more time in Mexico delving more deeply into a way of cooking that should be preserved and celebrated.
Gilda Karasik: Blogging has resulted in something surprising for me. I’ve always wanted to be a writer, but never really had the discipline or courage to devote myself to it. As a blogger, you have to write regularly and everything you write is published for the world to read, obviously. So, in a roundabout way, blogging has led me to take a break from my career as a lawyer to write full-time. I’ve just submitted a short story to several literary magazines and I’m currently working on my first novel.