Sunday, October 9, 2016

This post is all about... FOOD! MEXICAN FOOD!

Todo el mundo le encanta la comida mexicana :)

Some of you have asked me about what true authentic Mexican food is like so here is my critique of the foods I have eaten so far in these past six or seven weeks here in Mexico. 

  • Tortillas- the base for practically all Mexican dishes
    • There are two main types of tortillas: corn and flour
      • Here in southern Mexico only corn flours are served and eaten here. Flour tortillas are more common in northern Mexico. Although, when I was on a work trip in the state of Mexico I was offered flour tortillas for my order which was probably a once in a blue moon kind of offer. Like in Iowa, there are numerous elote (corn) farms here.
    • To digress further there are three types of corn tortillas: white, yellow, and blue corn tortillas which are made from three different types of maza. The white and yellow ones taste the same for the most part but the blues ones have a different, slightly more earthy flavor which I like.
    • Tortillas azules
    • I think that Mexico City has terrible, bland tortillas but Tepoztlán and San Felipe del Progreso have more flavorful tortillas, which is probably due to the fact that there are many elote farms located on the outskirts of those towns.

  • Chiles! Peppers! Salsa! The ketchup and mustard of Mexico if you will.
    • There are red chiles and there are green chiles.
    • I have found salsas made from green chiles to be more flavorful and more rich than red chile salsas unless you're talking about salsa de chipotle. Now that is the richest salsa of them all in my opinion because it has a similar flavor to tomato based barbecue sauce which I am a fan of. 
    • I have eaten poblano chiles, habanero chiles, serrano chiles, other green chiles, cayenne peppers, other little red peppers, manzano peppers, and of course jalapeno peppers. Poblano chiles are the chiles that are used to make chile relleno (stuffed chiles) but they don't have very much heat; however, when you roast them it surely does smell like something is on fire! My host family has three manzano pepper plants so we eat a lot of salsa made from them in our household. They have a very strong and fiery flavor so it's best to pair them with meaty and maza based dishes like tamales.
    • Chile manzano
    • Tamales with green salsa are the best tamales in my opinion.

  • Desayuno- anything is game for breakfast food
    • Chilaquiles- fried tortilla chips with salsa, queso oaxaqueña, and refried beans; very common breakfast dish
    • Soft tacos of chile relleno, breaded chicken or fish, arroz, and salsa are typical restaurant breakfast dishes. Must be eaten with sweetened coffee!
    • Tamales (red or green) and coffee make a very rich breakfast combination.
    • Eggs and chorizo (Mexican sausage) is also a very common breakfast food. 
    • Chile rellenos by themselves are a very good breakfast.
    • Quesadillas (de
      queso) and fruit make a very healthy desayuno.
    • Hotcakes aren't just an American breakfast food... they are indeed a common Mexican breakfast food as well! Here they are served with jam or marmalade.
    • Chilaquiles (They're not nachos!)

  • Almuerzo (or comida as they call it here)- the biggest meal of the day
    • Tortilla plays a part in every almuerzo.
    • Chicken, chiles rellenos, frijoles con chorizo, cecina (sun-dried salted beef or pork), fried green squash (like fried green tomatoes), pozole (an elote based soup with pork or chicken), and all types of tacos can play the main parts.
    • Some type of salsa plays the main sidekick. 
    • Jícama (a sweet relative of the potato) or cucumber with lime and salt plays the soothing part after eating all of that chile!
    • Rice also sometimes plays a small part.
  • Cena- the smallest meal of the day
    • Café con pan (coffee with bread) is the staple cena here. This is what I usually eat for dinner every night perhaps with some fruit and/or a taco/quesadilla. The bread is usually a sweet pastry type thing or it is a hearty bread baked with aromatic spices like anise and cinnamon. Galletas are also a common dinner food.
    • Molletes- toasted white baguette style bread halves that are topped with refried beans, queso blanco, and pico de gallo that are so good after a long day's work.
    • Lemongrass tea is the common tea here
    • Atole de elote- hot Mexican corn chowder if you will but sweeter, less dense, and more corn than US corn chowder
    • Arroz con leche- rice pudding flavored with sweetened milk, cinnamon and sometimes raisins
  • Botanas (snacks)
    • A very common snack are Sabritas (Lays in Mexico) flavored with dried limes and salt which are very good. Also Fritos with limón y sal served with hot sauce are common. I have tried and liked both.
    • Popcorn topped with hot sauce is also a thing here. It's very good with a michelada which is a Corona or Victoria beer served in a glass rimmed with tomato salsa.
    Image result for nopal asado
  • Nopal or Cactus, which I don't like due to its slimy oyster-like texture, is either broiled/charred or boiled with onions and garlic. Before the first time I tried it I thought I was going to eat green beans because it was cut up! I came to find out that it was this foreign green, slimy tasting stuff which has a bland flavor. It is indeed a very common vegetable eaten here that is very good for you if you can get past its slimy texture.

  • Drinks
    • Beer- I've found that the Corona here tastes like water so I prefer not to drink it and also because I typically do not like light beers, but I have found a good porter brewed by a local microbrewery of Tepoztlan that has the likings of the Sierra Nevada porter.
    • Red wine- All of the US brands of cheap deep reds can be found here for rather cheap prices.
    • Tequila- At my host brother's birthday party, I had some of the smoothest tequila I have drank to this date which is Casco Viejo.
  • If there is another food that you would like me to try, please let me know!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Tepoztlán: El pueblo donde estaré trabajando (the town where I will be working)

Versión en español

El viernes, 13 de agosto recibí mi lugar estar para mi año de servicio y alguna información sobre mis papeles futuros en las organizaciones de mi trabajo. Vivo en el pueblo mágico se llama Tepoztlán que tiene más o menos 14,000 personas y está del sur de D.F. (CDMX). Aqui esta en Tepoztlan estoy trabajando con dos organizaciones: SARAR Transformación y La Jugarreta: Espacios de Participación, A.C. SARAR es una organización que educa comunidades rurales como vivir sustentable con la usa de baños secos y composteros, recicleta de agua gris y filtrar agua con biofiltración. Después una semana de trabajando, aprendí que baños composteros son mejores, algunas comunidades rurales necesitan maneras sustentables purificar agua y abonar la tierra y es importante pedir una comunidad cuáles son los problemas. También SARAR es un acrónimo que representa la metodología de Dra. Srinivasan. La "S" significa la seguridad en si mismo. La primera "A" significa la asociación con otros. La primera "R" significa la reacción con ingenuo. La segunda "A" significa las acciones planeadas. La segunda "R" significa la responsabilidad. Con esa metodología, SARAR Transformación ayuda comunidades formar sistemas sustentables y permanentes para una vida mejora. La mayoría de las comunidades no tienen baños ni una sistema purificar agua potable pues les aprecia el trabajo de SARAR. Ahora SARAR está trabajando con comunidades en México y otros paises en latinoamerica. 

La Jugarreta es una organización que quiere tener espacios seguros para ninos jugar después escuela que está de acuerdo con Los Derechos de Niños escribió por las Naciones Unidas. Hay grupos organizados para los niños y a veces tienen otros eventos atender. Por ejemplo, el sábado pasado había un simposio (de la Alianza Pachamama) sobre cómo vivir sustentable y pensar sobre cómo cambiar cosas en la estila de vida tener más respeto para la tierra.Muchos niños van a jugar y se disfrutan.

Me encanta el trabajo con esas organizaciones! Estoy emocionada ver que el tiempo trae! Soy feliz que puedo usar el conocimiento que aprendí en la universidad, durante mi tiempo con Guías y Scouts, y todo el conocimiento de mi padre, Mr. Kipp y Dr. Mondor.   

English Version

On Friday, August 13tth I received an email from my lovely country coordinators about the place where I will be working for my year of service and some information about my future roles in the organizations that I will be working for. I am living in the wonderful pueblo mágico of Tepoztlán, Morelos, Mexico that is south of Mexico City and has about 14,000 people. Here in Tepoztlan I am working with two organizations: SARAR Transformacion and La Jugarreta: Espacios de Participacion, A.C. Sarar is an organization that continually educates rural communities across Latin America about how to live sustainably by using dry toilets and compost toilets, gray water recycling, and how to purify water with bio-filters. After one week of work, I have learned that compost toilets are the best option, some rural communities need sustainable ways to purify water and fertilize farmland, and that it is important to ask a community what their problems are. Also SARAR is an acronym that represents Dr. Srinivasan's methodology- which is the methodology that Sarar uses for all of their projects. The "S" stands for self-esteem. The first "A" stands for associative strengths. The first "R" stands for resourcefulness. The second "A" stands for action planning. The second "R" stands for responsibility. With this methodology, Sarar Transformación helps communities to form sustainable and permanently working systems to improve their livelihood. Currently Sarar is working with communities in Mexico and in other Latin American countries. 

La Jugarreta is an organization that wants and works to create safe spaces for children to play in after school lets out in accordance with the United Nations' Rights of the Child. There are organized groups for children and sometimes La Jugarreta has other events for the kids to attend as well. For example, last Saturday we had a symposium (presented by the Pachamama Alliance) about how to live more sustainably and to think about what things can we change in our daily lives to be more eco-friendly. Many kids came to play and enjoyed it.

I am definitely enjoying my jobs with both of these organizations! I am excited to see what time will bring during this YAGM year! I am happy to use the knowledge that I have learned in college, from Girl Scouts, and the what I have learned from my dad (who is an environmental chemist), Mr. Kipp, and Dr. Mondor. 



Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Tamales- un circulo completo

Versión en español  

Cuando era niña en el tercer grado, mi amiga en escuela fue Brenda, una niña nació de padres mexicanos. Cada semana, su mamá preparaba un almuerzo de tamales por ella. Brenda tenía tres tamales y siempre compartía una conmigo porque no habria comido tres. Fueron los más riquísimos tamales y cada semana me los gustaban porque de la amistad de Brenda. Después ese año, no nunca vi Brenda otra vez y estaba buscando por las tamales mejoras hasta ahorita.

El fin de semana pasada, cuando estuve en Chicago por aprendiendo sobre el país cual que Dios me llamó, busque esas tamales otra vez. Creo que lo fue una significación de Dios que me llamó ir a México porque mi aprendizaje de español empezó con Brendita. :)

English version

When I was in the third grade, Brenda was my good friend at school. Her parents were from Mexico and each week her mother would prepare tamales as one of her lunches to take to school. Brenda always brought three tamales and would always share one of them with me because she could never eat all three of them. Wrapped in dried corn husks, inside there was spiced meat with cooked tomatoes in blanket of tamale dough. These tamales were the best food and most flavorful food I had ever put in my mouth (my mother's cooking is always good but these tamales were something else), and each week I liked to eat them because of Brenda's friendship. After third grade, I never saw or talked with Brenda again and I was constantly looking for tamales like her mother's until now.

This past weekend, when I was in Chicago discerning about which country God has called me to go to, I found and tasted homemade tamales, like those made by Brenda's mother again, on that Saturday. I think that this was a sign from God to go to Mexico because my acquisition of Spanish began with Brendita. :)