Laura Patricia Ramirez came to the United States in 1985 when she was just 16 years old, along with her husband Alberto and a month-old baby. Unable to speak any English, and missing her larger Mexican community and food, Ramirez felt her homesickness couldn’t be helped
Alberto, who worked in the horse-racing industry and travelled to Chicago often, would bring Mexican spices and foods to their new home in Lexington, Kentucky. The small Mexican community there — which would later give the area the moniker “Mexington” — begged Alberto to sell the ingredients he was bringing back.
After a quick trip to Mexico to source a tortilla-making machine, the couple opened Tortilleria y Taqueria Ramirez. After opening and seeing the large Latinx community in their area, Laura and Alberto decided to add a restaurant to the space. “We wanted people to be able to get the food that we couldn’t get when we first came to the United States,” says Laura.
Mexington is a film by Joe York made for the Southern Foodways Alliance, an ongoing documentary project that “documents, studies, and explores the diverse food cultures of the changing American South.” To learn about the Ramirez story, watch the full video above.