Friday, June 6, 2008

St. Ignacio's Nachos

I was doing some research for our May Book Club last month and came across an interesting story about the history of Nachos. Yes, I said "nachos". My kids love nachos and when I read this story from the OED News, I just knew this would be a fun way to celebrate St. Ignatius' feast day.
She told me she had been born and raised in Mexico and there nacho has only one common usage: it is the word used as a diminutive for a little boy who had been baptized Ignacio. His family and friends call him Nacho. She thought I should know this. What a wonderful bit of information! We beamed at each other. I thanked her profusely, and later I told her she was the true reason for my success in solving the etymology of nacho(s).
To sum up the article, the dish we now know today as "nachos", which come in many variations and flavors, was originally served by a chef in Piedras Negras, Mexico as a simple combination of fried corn tortillas, melted cheese and jalapenos. It was named after that chef who was baptized Ignatio Anaya (named for St. Ignatius no doubt) but known to his friends and family simply as Nacho.I thought this was a fun story, a great opportunity to discuss what the OED is with the kids and the connection between the name we know as Ignatius and one of our favorite dishes. So why not also use this learning opportunity to celebrate the feast of St. Ignatius? The only problem is that there are so many St. Ignatiuses (Ignatiusi?) which one do you choose if your family doesn't have a particular devotion to one specific saint?

For us, we took some time to look into the lives of a few of these saintly men named Ignatius, hoping to find one who might have been of Latin or Spanish descent. Of course there are the best known St. Ignatius of Antioch and St. Ignatius of Loyola. The maybe lesser known St. Ignatius of Santhia and St. Ignatius of Constantinople. Or even a few whose causes are pending; Blessed Ignazio Maloyan (whose feast day will be June 11th) and Blessed Ignatius de Azevedo. Our family chose St. Ignacio Delgado y Cebrián, one of the Martyrs of Vietnam, mostly because I have a weakness for lesser known saints and he is of Spanish descent. St. Ignacio's feast day is on July 12th and I haven't yet decided what kind of nachos to make. I am posting this now because a friend of mine was telling me that she found it frustrating to read about feast day celebrations after the fact or without enough time to prepare. So, this is early for you, Genni. Enjoy your nachos!

*Oh, by the way... I thought it funny that the only picture I could find of what looked most like Chef Anaya's original nachos was from LaBamba Restaurant... in Aberdeen, Scotland! Pin It


  1. That information is so awesome, Matilda! I love it! I did have to look up OED, I confess! And I'll have to remember for July 31, Ignatius of Loyola. MaryM has pressed into my brain the distinction of Castilian and Spanish descent, of which Ignatius of Loyola was the former, not the latter. Kind of stuck with me...

  2. Yes, this information is quite interesting (I had no idea) - we love nachos and will look forward to tying them to the St. Ignatius feast days. We'll be going with one of our favorite Basque saints, St. Ignatius of Loyola. (Sorry Jenn my dear, it was Basque not Castilian - LOL)

    Thanks for your clever detective work.

  3. Thank you Matilda! I no longer have any reason not to make nachos on July 12th in honor of St. Ignatius (unless I am in labor).

  4. I'm pretty sure that labor is a free pass that gets you out of anything you want. But hey...if you are in labor, I'll bring you the nachos!

  5. Mary M,
    What is this distinction that I am unaware of? I'd love to know!!!

  6. Matilda, the Basques are a nationality of people living in 7 provinces of Northern Spain and Southern France. These provinces though never a separate country have always maintained a very distinct and different culture/language/genetics/government structure from Spain or France. They consider themselves the Basque Country even though politically they are not a country. St. Ignatius of Loyola and St. Francis Xavier are both Basque from noble families in the region. They are often mentioned as "Spanish" which is not accurate and which I always point out being fiercely proud of my Basque heritage (and that was what Jenn was referring to in her comment).

  7. Castilian/Basque...what a nut! I'm a bear of little brain, I'm afraid! Thanks Mary for the correction and clarifying the BASQUE vs. Spanish.