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In The Heights Community Project

In anticipation of PCC performing arts production of the sensational musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda—In The Heights (Feb. 23-March 5), we reached out to the PCC and Tucson communities to share photos, family recipes, stories, poems and art that celebrates the flavor of their cultural heritage and/or describes the character of their neighborhood or barrio. 

Pima Community College In The Heights Submissions

Father and son - Jonathan Heras

Photo and a poem  in Spanglish about a father by Jonathan Heras

Mi mundo, my son,

My moon and mi sol,

Te protejo from anyone,

Grow tall mi árbol.

A pride de padre;

Te oro Father,

Bless my hijo y su madre

Con pan y water.

You’ll have a casa Y un día a spouse,

Mijito you leave me in awe

In midst of this coas.

I’ll do anything para mi chiquitín,

Mi niño serás even after eighteen.

Pozole Estilo Sinaloa
Recipe from Jonathan Heras

This is my cousin Keila's. She has plenty of videos of recipes on YouTube here's one simple to follow and my personal favorite pozole in the link below 


*1Kg. de Espinao Cargado ( Osea que tenga mas carne que hueso)

*1/4 de Pinerna de Puerco

* ¾ de Nixtamal Pre-cosido

* 3 Chilies colordos (o pasilla ) grandes

* 1 Cabeza de aio chica (o unos 5 dientes de aio )

* ½ Cebolla blanca

* 1 o 2 hojitas de laurel

* 1 cdita de Oregano seco

* ½ Cdita de Comino molido

* 2 Lts. De agua  (Para cocer el puro nixatamal, si falta aqua hervir mas )


* 1 Colador grande ( o de hoyo grande )

* Tabla para picar

* Cuchillo

* 1 olla grande y amplia ( no como la mia que esta bien pequena )

* Licuadora

* 1 olla pequena


Photo and recipe from Jodie Marx

These are a Czechoslovakian pastry. This particular recipe was taught to my mother, by her grandmother, my great-grandmother. It was then passed down to me. I can remember as a child coming home from school in the winter and immediately being put to work stretching the rolls into their traditional shape. I am currently getting ready to teach my niece, as she will be the fifth generation to carry on the tradition.                 

1 ½ cakes yeast

¼ cup water

¾ cup milk, scalded

½ cup butter or oleo

½ cup sugar

1 tsp. salt

3 beaten eggs

4 ½ cups sifted flour, Learn the feel you usually don’t use near this amount.

Assorted fillings like: poppy seed, cottage cheese, prune, apricot, cherry, raspberry

Crushed Raisin Bran with a little coconut added in

Melted shortening brushing

Dissolve yeast in water and add a pinch of sugar. Set aside let yeast grow. Combine scalded milk, butter, sugar, and salt. Cool, then add eggs and yeast. Mix in flour. Mix in only enough flour to handle the mixture. The less flour used the fluffier the pastry will be. Put on floured board and knead. Don’t overwork. Place in greased bowl and let rise until double in bulk. Punch down, put on board, divide in 2 parts, cut, and roll. Place on a greased pan, and let rise. Make depression in center by pulling from center in two directions toward edge. Spoon in filling. Sprinkle a little bit of Raisin Bran mixture on top. Let rise again. Bake 13-15 minutes at 375 degrees or until brown. Remove from oven and brush with melted shortening. Cool on pastry racks.


Photo and recipe from Jodie Marx


This is a Jewish cookie. This recipe was handed down from my paternal Great-Grandmother, Nanny. This is a favorite with a warm cup of tea.                Jodie Marx

4 eggs

1 ½ cups sugar

1 cup oil

1 cup chopped blanched almonds

3 ½ cups flour

3 tsp baking powder

Zest of one orange

Almond extract


Mix eggs, sugar, and oil. Add almonds, orange zest, and almond extract. Mix in flour, baking powder, and a pinch or so of mace. Refrigeration for at least 8 hours. Divide in two loaves. Place on grease pans. Loaves will spread out crosswise, not lengthwise. Bake 30-40 minutes at 350 degrees. When golden and somewhat firm remove from oven. Let cool 5 minutes. Now slice ¾ -1 inch thick. Lay down on pan and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Place back in oven and toast for 5-10 minutes on each side.

I have yet to meet a Jewish man that doesn’t ask if I won’t put chocolate chips in it for him. They love those chocolate chips. The ladies like it straight up.

Lentil Kheyma
Armenian family recipe
Recipe from Nancy Gamboian

4 cups of water

1 cup red lentils (rinsed)

1 tsp. salt

Cook until “mushy”

Take off heat

Add 1 cup FINE bulgur wheat, stir

Saute 1 stick butter and 2 onions (cut fine) until brown, add salt & pepper

Add these browned onions to lentils, stir

* Can form into balls and serve on a plate with parsley. Can eat with flat bread or alone

Leche Flan

Recipe from Sylvia M. Lee 

10 egg yolks, 1 can condensed milk, 1 can evaporated milk, half cup white sugar, and 2Tsp, vanilla. Beat egg yolks and then combine all the ingredients and mixed thoroughly. 

Next make the caramel melt using one cup white sugar in a pan on slow fire - keep stirring mix until sugar turns liquid (caramel) then spread in the flan mold evenly. Wait for five minutes then pour the egg mixture on the mold. Then cover with aluminum foil. Steam for 30 to 35 minutes. 

CROSS-CULTURAL CUISINE:  Marinoiku Pescegatto in Viili
Finnish-style Marinated Italian-style Catfish in Yogurt
- a yumalicious variation of holiday pickled herring in sour cream
Recipe from Albert Vetere Lann, whose grandparents came from Italy and Finland.
And who lived in the Heights in the late 1950s.

Take about 1 pound of catfish nuggets cut into bite-size pieces and soak in salt water in the refrigerator for 24 – 48 hours.

Cook up a batch of pickling brine and cool.  Make a batch of Finnish yogurt (viili) or buy some plain Greek-style yogurt.

Drain and dry the salted catfish.  Saute in several tablespoons olive oil with Italian seasoning and some garlic.

Cook about three minutes on each side.  Remove from heat, cool and drain.

Thinly slice a medium to large onion and separate rings.

Mix catfish and onion rings and soak in the pickling brine for two-four days in the refrigerator.

Drain off pickling brine and spice remains.

Combine catfish and onions with yogurt and store in sealed container in refrigerator for a couple of days.

Serve by itself or on rye crackers as an appetizer or snack.  This will last about two weeks.

To extend the cultural horizon add a dash or two of Herdez Guacamole Salsa.

Morning Song

Poem by Albert Vetere Lannon

Here at Wild Heart Ranch

deep in the Sonoran Desert

I sleep outside most of the year.

The air cools at night, except

during the humid monsoon season

and the morning air is delicious;

I never wake up cranky.


I am often awakened at night

by a pair of great horned owls

hunting the vacant acre next door,

or by a coyote jamboree when the

moon rises, or just when they

feel like singing.  During the rains

there are noisy toads; and crickets.


And every morning, at first light,

there is a soft cooing of doves

and the resident cardinal’s song

and a neighbor’s rooster, and

the sun lights the tree tops and

then the chirping little birds and

persnickety quail and the world


is alive.  And so am I.  So am I.

Fiori di Zucca Fritii (Fried Zucchini Flowers)

Recipe from Carol Fiori Carder

My grandparents immigrated to the USA in 1930 from Italy. They lived in Chicago and had a very tiny yard, but Nonna grew amazing vegetables in every available patch of dirt. She taught me how to make this dish with flowers from the zucchini growing in my garden, when I was a young married woman.

30 freshly picked flowers (that are not producing a fruit) 

1 cup of flour

1 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil 

1 beaten egg

milk (a small amount)

salt and pepper

Mix flour with olive oil, egg and enough milk to make a batter that is not too liquid. Cut some of the stalk off the flower and remove the pistils. Preheat olive oil in a frying pan. Dip flowers in the batter and fry golden on all sides. Remove and place on a paper towel. Season with salt and pepper. Serve at once. 

Familia Weatherbie Chile Relleno Recipe
Recipe from Veronica Curran

10-12 big green chiles  

6 LG eggs

Cheese (preferably cheddar or Monterey jack)

Flour Salt  Pepper 

Roast chiles first (prep time is the longest) in oven on vari-broil until Chile skin is golden brown and chiles are soft.  Wrap chiles in 2 plastic bags and wrap in a towel to steam. Set aside until chiles are ready to peel.  Cut cheese into small strips about 3 inches long.  Once chiles are peeled and insides removed, insert cheese strips and set aside.  Prep the egg mixture and flour:  Separate whites from yolks. Beat egg whites until fluffy and firm. Beat yolks until creamy. Gently fold yolks into whites.   Have about two cups of flour ready. Put one cup of flour in wide, shallow bowl.  In a large frying pan, add about a cup of olive oil (continue adding oil as needed) and heat on medium until ready to cook rellenos (adjust heat as needed).  Roll chile in flour until coated. Dip chile in egg gently. Place gently in frying pan and cook until lightly golden brown.  Desfrute!  ~Mama

My Humble Neighborhood
Story by Geneva Escobedo

My Mexican immigrant grandparents settled in a little “pubelito” called Solomon in southeastern Arizona.  My father and his siblings were born there and after dad and mom married, they lived in a tiny three-room house close to my grandparents.  They resided in Solomon for seven years. I lived there from infancy until six years of age. Many of my relatives still live there.  Solomon feels like a big neighborhood where everyone watches out for one another.

I attended first grade at Solomon Elementary School. Our classrooms were tiny and I loved my teacher.  Each morning our class took a break and stepped outside the building to drink a small pint of milk.  Drinking cold milk on a cold winter day gave me the shivers!   

Solomon is a small rural, unincorporated community east of Safford in Graham County.  It was founded in 1878. The residents are still predominantly Mexican-American. As of July 2016, the population was 458.

Wikipedia describes Solomon as follows:
The community’s origins go back to the indigenous peoples of the region. Little is known of its history prior to the coming of the Europeans. In the early 19th century, settlers who fit the modern term Hispanic came to the region. They named the town they founded “Pueblo Viejo” (Old Pueblo) because of the previous Native American settlement, the ruins of which are still visible.

The town is named after Isadore Elkan Solomon, a Jewish, German immigrant who came to the town in the 1870’s. Mr. Solomon was searching for a place to start up a business and when he arrived, there were only five residences in the town.

Mexican-Americans built the first Catholic Church (Virgen de Guadalupe) in 1884, 28 years before Arizona became a state.  The Virgen de Guadalupe Parish was dedicated in 1891. It still stands today. My parents were married there and I was baptized there. I also went to Sunday mass with my Grandma Maria and my Godmother and Aunt, Isabel Escobedo Ornelas. I have very special memories of this church as it was the place where my spiritual roots began.

We lived close to my grandparents and I was happy to visit them often. My grandmother spoke very little English and I was fortunate to speak two languages as a child. My cousin Jessie Escobedo Formica also lived there and raised her children at Tía (aunt) Maria and Tío (uncle) Tomas’ home. Jessie shared the following memories which relay what life was like in this rural town.

Solomon had a large store owned by Mr. I.E. Solomon and Mr. Wickersham, called the Wickersham Commercial Store. There was a hotel, and the first bank built was the Gila Bank, which later became the first Valley National Bank in Arizona. It is currently Chase Bank. The drug store was owned by Hal Empie, who later became a great Arizona artist. He died in the late 1990’s in Tubac, Arizona. His daughter still has an art gallery in Tubac, which sells Mr. Empie’s art. Solomon was the Graham County and Greenlee County seat for many years and after the railroad by-passed the town, the Graham County seat was moved to Safford, Arizona and the Greenlee County seat was moved to Clifton, Arizona.

Life in Solomon was peaceful. It was comprised of mostly Mexican-American families who spoke Spanish, and it was the children’s first language. They learned English from the older siblings and at school. The homes were all constructed in adobe brick and most had patios of hard watered down dirt, swept and cleaned daily. Each home had flowers, vines, mulberry trees and vegetable gardens. Neighbors shared their food, their joys, their woes and everyone knew each other.

My neighborhood in Solomon was safe.  We walked to the post office, to the little grocery store and to church.  I loved to visit my aunt Isabel and spend nights with my grandmother.  My brothers and I enjoyed fresh cantaloupe and watermelon from my grandfather’s garden.  He also grew chili and corn.  He would pay my brother and me a penny to pick the fat green worms clinging to the chili plants.  What fun!  And we earned money to buy candy from Abelardo’s store.

I occasionally visit Solomon to return to my roots and to reflect on the many sweet memories of my grandparents.


Canis latrans
El Coyóte

Poem by Flora Gamez Grateron

You keep survey from the cover of the wash

Undetectable and almost invisible

You skirt around deserted streets

A shadow, fleeting and camouflaged

by the sandy desert, your home.


Such a lonely fellow you are, always on the outskirts

Under constant surveillance by city dwellers

We swerve at the last moment as you make your way

across busy intersections, miraculously surviving 6 lanes

And once again blend into the desert, your refuge.


I walk my small cloud white dog and decide to cut through a wash

I sense movement and out of the corner of my eye, I notice you

Grey, dingy, undernourished, head down in concentration, exploring.

I hurry along, unnerved by the sudden encounter with you

I am unsure of your intent and have no desire to find out.


A neighbor posts they have found a small dog and want to

locate its owners.  It was being attacked! she exclaims

Who was attacking him? I question, A coyote! She screams

in print and proceeds to describe the rescue of the small lost dog.


As my daughter pulls out of the driveway, three smoky shadows

make their way down the lukewarm evening asphalt, undeterred

by vehicles, headlights, or people on their way to fitness gyms

At last, the misty shadows unite with each other and the chorus ensues

Lonely notes held long and forlorn, piercing the haunting darkness,


Its hymn carried toward stucco homes, down chimneys, through mesquite

Across cinder block walls, parked cars, alleys, Palo Verde trees, carried by dry wind

Dogs bark hesitant at first, their voices blending, yipping, howling, joining the chorus,

Canines at heart, brothers that come to share stories with us, alone no more.


My inside dogs twitch, unwilling to respond, sensing the wild untamed chords

of the family song, a thin wall separates them from the ghosts of the night who,

like vapor, dissipate into the star studded desert, only the echo of their song

left behind and whispers of their paws in the wash.    

PCC visual arts students from WC ART 110 & 210 collages
Christina McNearney, visual arts faculty

 visual art collage1

visual art collage 2

visual art collage 3

visual arts collage 4

visual arts collage 5

visual arts collage 6

PCC digital arts student illustrations for IN THE HEIGHTS
Dennis Landry, digital arts faculty

student illustration 1

student illustration 2

student illustration 3

student illustration 4

student illustration 5

student illustration 6

student illustration 7

student illustration 8

student illustration 9