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Oral Histories

The SFA oral history program documents life stories from the American South. Collecting these stories, we honor the people whose labor defines the region. If you would like to contribute to SFA’s oral history collections, please send your ideas for oral history along with your CV or Resume and a portfolio of prior oral history work to annemarie@southernfoodways.org.

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Mirna Garcia

Mi Tierra

Mirna was born in Guatemala in 1964. At the age of 14, she moved to Chicago where she finished grammar school and high school. In 1995, she moved from Chicago to Memphis with her son, and started working at Cozymels Mexican Grill, a restaurant on Poplar Avenue. The training she received helped prepare her to become a restaurant owner. Her family owned a Colombian restaurant in Chicago, and she dreamed of opening a similar establishment of her own.

When Mirna moved to Memphis in the mid 1990s, the Latino population in the city was small. Though there were a few Mexican restaurants in the area, very few restaurants served other Latin American cuisines. Mirna was confident that the Colombian food at Mi Tierra would be successful since no other restaurant served it. In 2002, she and Maryury Rodriguez opened Mi Tierra. The restaurant offers both Mexican and Colombian food until 2:00 AM. Patrons eat a plate of Colombian or Mexican food and dance to salsa, merengue, and reggaeton late into the night.

Date of interview:

Simone Delerme and Kelly Spivey

Houston Cofield

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The Southern Foodways Alliance drives a more progressive future by leading conversations that challenge existing constructs, shape perspectives, and foster meaningful discussions. We reconsider the past with research, scrutiny, and documentation.


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