The room I am sitting in is completely full of people. People standing, people sitting, and still others looking around trying to find a seat. Everyone is chit-chatting, excited about the speech that is to come. The speaker himself is walking around, mingling and being congratulated by his guests. The speaker’s  name is Gustavo Arellano. He is the editor of the OC Weekly, and he is my Chicano Studies professor at Cal State Fullerton. The event that he is hosting at the Fullerton Public Library is a book signing for his newest book, Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America. From the looks of it, this is turning out to be a very successful night.

As I look around there seems to be a wide variety of people, all different ages and different races. There are toddlers as well as senior citizens, mexicanos as well as gringos. The two guys sitting next to me strike up a conversation and I find out that they are huge fans of Gustavo. It seems that there are many of these fans in this room. The signing and speech itself is successful. Personally I learned many things I didn’t know about “Mexican food” and people asked Gustavo a lot of good questions.

After the signing, I look around to see who my “victim” will be to interview. I first encounter an older couple, which names they did not tell me. I introduce myself and start my preguntas:

Q: Why did you guys come here?

A: We attended a previous lecture that Gustavo gave and enjoyed ourselves.

Q: How did you hear of the event?

A: We had heard about it on NPR but our friend Vince Buck called and made sure to remind us.

Q: What did you think of the event?

A: We enjoyed it and it was nice to see the turn out, there were so many people present!

Q: Is this the first book signing you have been to?

A: Book signing yes, but like we mentioned we have attend Gustavo’s Awesome lecture series.

Q: And finally, what is your favorite Mexican dish?

A: Mmm.. (pause) The only thing I can think of is my mother-in-law’s tacos…(interrupted by husband) which she learned from her Mexican cleaning lady! (Both start laughing).

My second interview victim seems a bit distant when I ask her for an interview. She kind of looks like she wants to avoid me but she finally (and reluctantly) agrees to answer my questions. Soon I found out why. She introduced herself as Theresa Cisneros, reporter and blog writer for the Orange County Register. She explains to me how her blog is about the positive things Latino’s do in Orange County. It is called OC Latino Link. After her introduction I start my questions:

Q: Why did you come here and how did you hear about the event?

A: I read about it on the OC Weekly and decided to come.

Q: What did you think of the event?

A:  The topic itself is interesting and I’ve never thought about exploring it.

Q: Is this the first book signing you have been to?

A: It’s not my first book signing but I’ve never been to any of Gustavo’s signings.

Q: What is your favorite Mexican dish?

A: Definitely Chiles Rellenos.

Q: With tomato sauce or just plain?

A: With salsa. There’s a restaurant in Rosarito that has the best Chiles Rellenos. (definitely spoke with enthusiasm for  this restaurant).

The third and final person I interview is standing all the way in the back of the line, patiently waiting to get her book signed. Her name is Natalie, and she turns out to be the nicest interview of the night.

Q: Why did you come here?

A: Well my husband and I are fans of his and love his work. We were so excited to hear about the event (waves hands frantically) that  I put it on my calendar in my phone right away!

Q: How did you hear of the event?

A: Oh we heard it on the radio, on the Kevin and Bean show. Like I said I was so excited!

Q: Well what did you think of the event?

A: It was very entertaining and Gustavo is very enthusiastic.

Me: He is like that in class too, it’s interesting to go into class.

Natalie:  I heard he teaches in the Humanities Building on Thursdays?

Me: Yes..

Natalie: It would be fun to crash his class one of these days, I’m sure he wouldn’t mind (smiling).

Q: Lastly Natalie, what is your favorite Mexican dish?

A: (thinks for a second) OH, Huevos Rancheros!

Me: I don’t think I have ever had those…

Natalie: Oh my gosh how is that even possible!!

Overall I enjoyed doing these interviews. It definitely took me out of my comfort zone, finding random people to talk to, but it was very interesting and one of our most  fun“classes” to date.  


About ocbarrios

Professor for Cal State Fullerton's Barrio Studies class for Fall 2011 semester

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