With a small stack of handmade tortillas at her side, a shy Mexican grandmother in a purple apron looked at the camera and introduced herself to the world.

“I’m going to present to you this recipe,” Doña Ángela, or Mrs. Ángela, says in her first YouTube video, from August 2019, speaking Spanish in a dulcet tone that creaks slightly like a sturdy barn door. “I hope you like it.”

Millions of people did. And they have adored her ever since.

Mrs. Ángela, whose full name is Ángela Garfias Vázquez, has quickly become one of the most watched and beloved cooks in the extremely crowded market of online food shows. The roughly five- to 10-minute videos are recorded at her ranch in Michoacan, Mexico, by her daughter, who tracks her dicing of onions and grinding of corn with a phone camera.

Mrs. Ángela’s channel, “De Mi Rancho a Tu Cocina,” which means “from my ranch to your kitchen,” has more than 437 million views.

That is more views than Martha Stewart’s channel (roughly 172 million) and the NYT Cooking channel (about 72 million) combined. She has nearly overtaken the Food Network’s YouTube page, which has about 590 million views and hosts several big names in food entertainment.

What explains Mrs. Ángela’s popularity?

“The kind of rural space that Doña Ángela represents is not as visible in food media,” said Ignacio Sánchez Prado, a professor of Spanish and Latin American studies at Washington University in St. Louis, who specializes in Mexican culture. “And I think she hit a nerve with that.”

Many fans and Mexican cuisine experts believe the appeal lies in her grandmotherly aura, which particularly enchants people of Latin American descent who see their abuelas, or grandmothers, in Mrs. Ángela: her shirts flecked with flowers, the dark spots on her hands and a mysterious ability to handle burning-hot tortillas without flinching.

“It’s so layered,” said Tiffany Holz of Bettendorf, Iowa, a longtime fan of Mrs. Ángela’s whose grandmother is from Mexico. “Just every ingredient, every article she uses. It’s all these little revelations of memories coming back to you.”

One fan, Lupe Montiel of Los Angeles, has wondered, as others have, what it is about Mrs. Ángela that brings out feelings of melancholy.

Some think it’s her wonderfully wrinkled cheeks, or the way she smiles in videos as her twinkling brown eyes timidly look away from the camera.

“She’s just like family,” said Ms. Montiel, a poet and artist, whose grandmother died of complications from Covid-19. “It’s that image of my grandma that I wish I had captured.”

Of course, the food she makes is also just delicious, said Richard Sandoval, the Mexican chef and prolific restaurateur.

The range of Mrs. Ángela’s seasonal dishes, experts said, highlights the ancestral tradition of Mexican cuisine and the persistence it takes to feed a family for decades in the countryside, as she most likely has in Michoacan. Her recipes include earthy-tasting tacos filled with huitlacoche, a bulbous, blue-gray fungus; fried pork skin soaked in green salsa; chunks of salted steak served with tart bits of prickly pear cactus; and a rich, mahogany-colored sauce known as mole that is packed with dark chiles, chocolate and cloves, ground with a stone mortar and pestle.

“At the end of the day, she is showing us that all you need is fire, a comal and some ingredients to cook up these amazing meals,” Mr. Sandoval said.

That simplicity is also reflected in her low-budget production values and earnest manner. Mrs. Ángela has a large comal, or griddle; a blender; pots and daylight that casts her kitchen in a pale-yellow hue reminiscent of chicken broth.

Mrs. Ángela is warm, but reserved. She wants you to know, as perhaps your grandmother once did, that she has made this food for you, and hopes you like it. “Muy sabroso,” she promises at the end of each video. “Very tasty.”

“There are folks trained for the camera,” said Steven Alvarez, a professor of English at St. John’s University in New York who teaches classes on Mexican food. “And there are people like Doña Ángela, whose charm is simply magnetic.”

In 2019, Mrs. Ángela amassed one million subscribers after uploading just 15 videos. She has since uploaded more than 300. In 2020, Forbes Mexico named her one of the country’s 100 most powerful women. But she does not appear interested in such fame.

Mrs. Ángela did not respond to interview requests for this article. Even YouTube has had trouble reaching her. A spokeswoman for the company, Veronica Navarrete, said that she had been “trying to get in touch with her for a while” and had failed.

When a team at YouTube tried to ship her awards, Ms. Navarrete said, they realized the “not very tech-savvy” Mrs. Ángela had no cell signal or Wi-Fi at her ranch, where she lives with her husband and some of her children.

Information about her background is sparse, though some tidbits have been reported. She is in her early 70s, and in 2020 she told Notivideo, a news organization in Michoacan, that she had three daughters, five sons and 20 grandchildren, and that her mother had taught her to cook.

She displayed an entrepreneurial spirit in that interview, saying that even though she was running out of recipes, “I have to search for ideas to keep going.”

At least two other news organizations have also interviewed her. A reporter, Francisco Valenzuela, wrote in the newspaper El Sol de Morelia that he trekked more than 240 miles over two days in 2020 to find her in the rural village of Villa Madero in Michoacan.

Even there, a mention of her name drew blank stares from some residents. Mr. Valenzuela said in an interview that he and a photographer were about to give up on finding her when they decided to ask one more person before leaving town.

He walked to a store and asked a woman working inside: “Do you know if a Doña Ángela lives around here?”

She pointed up a narrow road. “That way,” the woman said, according to Mr. Valenzuela. She described Mrs. Ángela as standoffish, adding, “I don’t like her.”

Sure enough, Mr. Valenzuela spotted Mrs. Ángela entering a rustic home. There was little evidence on the ranch of the wealth that Mrs. Ángela has surely accumulated, he said.

Mrs. Ángela’s adult children, some of whom Mr. Valenzuela described as brusque and protective, tentatively agreed to grant him an interview, but with several conditions. It would be very short, there would be no video and Mr. Valenzuela was not to reveal the location of the ranch, near land covered in viridescent avocado orchards.

Mr. Valenzuela agreed, but he managed to tease out few details from Mrs. Ángela’s curt answers, besides that it was her daughter’s idea to start a YouTube channel and that she could not believe so many people cared about her.

“It’s a very curious case, especially because of how reclusive they are,” Mr. Valenzuela said, adding: “They’ve been good at hiding their secret.”

Sometimes it’s hard to know if Mrs. Ángela is fully aware of her culinary stardom, which makes her all the more endearing to viewers. Still, she most likely has some idea. Mrs. Ángela’s daughter said in a video that she reads online comments to her mother.

In that video, a teary-eyed Mrs. Ángela looks at the camera and tells her fans: “I love you all so much. I give thanks to all of you. And may God bless you.” Later, she shows an altar she made for her parents and says, “I want you to know me more.” She then points at the decorative offerings: Marigold flowers to welcome sprits with fresh aromas, salt to keep the evil away, glasses of water for tired souls.

It was a scene familiar to Bradley Coss, 48, of El Paso, whose family is from Chihuahua, Mexico. He has watched just about every one of Mrs. Ángela’s videos with his mother, Cruz Ortiz, 93, who also grew up on a Mexican ranch. Recently, on a cold night, she grabbed her walker and sat with her son in front of a monitor, snuggled in a blanket and mesmerized by scenes so familiar to her.

“You can see in my mom the genuine joy it brings her to watch those videos,” Mr. Coss said, noting how it sometimes made him tearful. “It’s like speaking a language that’s not invented. You just feel it.”

Ms. Ortiz watched Mrs. Ángela, whose hair appeared grayer than in her debut video, her voice slightly raspier. The serranos on the griddle sizzled. The tomatoes in the blender whirled. As Ms. Ortiz fell asleep to those sounds, her son, too, looked on, pressed pause and saved the rest for later.

Kirsten Noyes contributed research.

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