Set in one of Tucson's first tamal and tortilla factories, The Molino is a memoir of my family's transformations and belonging in Tucson, especially historic Barrio Presidio. Weaving together history, culture, and Mexican food traditions, this memoir shares the story of my family's life and work in the hear of our downtown eatery, El Rapido.

Past Events & News

Friday, November 17, 2023 - 3.30  pm

Free event, No reservation needed  -  Followed by food & drinks reception

Musical performance by Kiri Escalante, lead singer of Aztral Folk

ENR2 Building, Room S107


You are cordially invited to join the School of Geography, Development and Environment, and the Southwest Center for the 15th annual My Arizona Lecture, given by native Tucsonense and senior lecturer in the University of Arizona English department Melani Martinez. The title of Melani’s talk is, “Circling the Presidio: A Tucsonense Food Map.” Please also join us for a nacho-bar reception to follow.  

Borderlands communities have been creating a dynamic food landscape providing a system of sustenance around generations of shared tables, but throughout the generations there has also been a great deal of loss. Today we continue to watch as family recipes, mercados, farms, eateries and restaurants go extinct. What happens to families when these food hubs expire? One example comes from a family who moved across borders and between rancho and pueblo spaces to create a tiny food store in the Presidio. Though the store closed its doors more than 20 years ago, it provides a mental map and a flavor memory that still reverberates in Tucson. 

Melani “Mele” Martinez is a native Tucsonense; her family has lived in the Sonoran desert for at least nine generations. She is a first-generation graduate of UArizona with a BA in Creative Writing and an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Goucher College. Her research interests include U.S.-Mexico Border, Chican@ / Mestiz@ studies, Testimonio Writing, and Southern Arizona history, folklore, and traditional foodways. Her forthcoming book, The Molino: A Memoir (UA Press 2024), tells the story of her family’s molinería, an early 20th Century hub for tamales and tortillas in Tucson’s historic Presidio District. Melani teaches Borderlands-focused courses and Food Writing at the University of Arizona. She is also Writing Program Lead for Project ADELANTE, a 5-year $3M HSI grant aimed at strengthening retention, degree completion, career readiness and post-graduation success for Hispanic first-generation and low-income students. 

Directions to ENR2 Building

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Fourth Genre: Explorations in Nonfiction, "The Molino," 2005 

Telling Tongues: A Latin Anthology on Language Experiences, “Duende Play” 2007 

BorderLore Journal, “Artifact: El Molino” 

BorderLore Journal,Sun Sets on Beloved Benedictine Monastery” 2018 

Pilgrimage Magazine: Flora, Fauna, Lore “A Tortilladora” 

BorderLore Journal, “Artifact: Rebozo” 2020 

BorderLore Journal, “Ramadas, Cunques & Coi: Dialects of the Southwest Borderlands” 2021 

Wildcat Perspectives, “A Tucson Testimonio,” 2022

The Art of Food, Community Food Story: Women Working Millstone, 2022 

The Art of Food, Community Food Story: Ichárhuta, 2022 

BorderLore Journal, “The Blue Dress” 2022 

America Eats!Popovers” 2022