Marcela Valladolid Melts Hearts With Instagram Family Reunion Photo

Marcela Valladolid really gave new life to Mexican cooking with her show "Mexican Made Easy." Her voice and approach are so passionate that it's no wonder she was a favorite on "The Kitchen" as well as "Best Baker in America." Not to mention, this Californian's fiery Mexican food sounds pretty tasty. A few years ago, Valladolid penned a short piece for Food & Wine where she praised the aunt who inspired her to cook along with other women in her family, relating, "In Mexico, where I grew up, women rule the kitchen. They control everything that happens; they hold the power. I had a lot of female role models around me as a kid."

One of those female role models was Valladolid's mom, Maria de la Luz Rodriguez de Valladolid, who, according to Yahoo! Life, died in 2008. Valladolid told the San Diego Tribune that even though she was raised Catholic, since her mom's death, she has embraced a "pre-Hispanic Aztec tradition" of building an altar for her mom for Dia de Muertos. Valladolid explained, "I felt disconnected from that part of my culture and those opportunities felt opportunistic and inauthentic, so I began to really study and understand what Dia de Muertos truly is about. Little by little, the tradition has now become one of the most important days of the year for me. The altar for her actually stays up almost a month, and I feel her presence the most during this season." 

An aunt visited the altar

Marcela Valladolid told The San Diego Tribune that she wants people "to experience joy and magic" when they visit the altar, which bears a photo of her mom as a young girl along with marigolds and candles. This year may well have encapsulated that joy and magic when the altar got a visit from someone special, resulting in an unexpected family reunion. Valladolid wrote on Instagram, "The most wonderful surprise. My most gorgeous Tia Laura and her husband Ernesto came to see my mom's altar. My mom was her big sister and they were as close as sisters could get." The cookbook author's post has received over 7,000 likes and is melting people's hearts.

"Priceless!" exclaimed one fan. Another seemed touched by the family dynamic, writing, "Such beautiful relationships." Others marveled at the altar, calling it beautiful. They weren't the only ones. Valladolid said her aunt "loved the altar."

Valladolid praised her mom and her Tia Laura for influencing her relationship with her own sister: "The reason, I think, @carinaluzvalladolid717 have the relationship that we have is because we saw it in my mom and Tia Laura." She also couldn't help but gush about her aunt: "She's so beautiful. Like my mom was. It had been a while since I'd seen her and I couldn't stop staring." One Instagram user, perhaps seeing a bigger picture within the photo, remarked, "You have a beautiful life."