I Love You More Than …Tacos?

Olivia Diaz started writing for a very practical reason. She was tired of making tamales to give away to business associates for Christmas. So the following year she gave them the recipe for tamales together with other recipes for Mexican food. To personalize the gifts, Diaz added reminiscences from her childhood that went with the instructions for making the traditional Hispanic foods. Each year brought more recipes, and more stories. After twenty two years and one hundred and thirty eight pages, the gift had become a book. People who have been the lucky recipients of her stories and recipes through the years think that the cookbook is not only a collection of great recipes but also is a recipe itself for a wonderful family life, describing through the family stories how Olivia Diaz’s mother raised her family in the Arizona of the mid- twentieth century. Now entitled “I Love You More Than Tacos” the complete collection is in the process of finding a publisher.

Ms. Diaz has taken her training for writing straight from her life experiences, just as she has taken her stories from experiences of her family life. For twelve years she worked as a fund raiser, writing hundreds of fund raising proposals. In her opinion, it was excellent training for writing fiction. She attended a Catholic high school where the fundamentals of English were pounded into her head, and to this day, she can still diagram a sentence. “It’s a joy for me to sit down and record another story, because I am merely writing down stories I’ve been telling for years,” she says, “My family has a tradition of telling each other stories and we compete for the best delivery. We also sit around and tell each other jokes whenever we get together. A joke, a story, a joke. . . it’s great fun!” For over twenty five years, Olivia Diaz has been telling and writing stories about her childhood in a Mexican-American neighborhood in Phoenix, Arizona during the 1940’s and 1950’s. Her father was a leader in the Mexican-American community there. He had the distinction of being the first Hispanic to serve as a City Councilman. He is a favorite character in her family stories. In 1981 she spent a year interviewing her father every 6 weeks, recording the story of his remarkable life. In working on his memoirs, she remembers growing up with him. She states that her favorite part is the actual writing and reliving the warm memories, “I remember the love I received and the love I felt for those who loved me. Now I can appreciate what each of my family was giving me. Much of it went by me when I was a kid. Writing has helped me appreciate better the nurturing I received. Also, putting the character in a context helps me to understand how unique they were.” Currently she is writing her Father’s memoirs as a biography.

Those memories inspired another group of stories called “Lessons from my Father.” But if you want to hear her stories you’ll have to attend the non-fiction Critique Group of the Sierra Writers because they aren’t published yet. Olivia Diaz lives in the Grass Valley, CA area, is a member of the Sierra Writers, and sits on its board as one of the Publicity Co-Chairs.