Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Tata Mezcalería

After attending Morelia's Miguel Bernal Jimenez Music Festival and Contenedor de Arte's second annual exhibition entitled Transcripciones Musicalograficas, at Palacio Clavijero, the public and many of the artists converged on Tata Mezcaleria.  Reminiscinet of Prohibition Era speakeasies, patrons ring a doorbell on the limestone door and are ushered in by smiling faces.

A welcoming atmosphere is created through a fun mixture of Mexican modern crafts and art; handmade, miniature toy furniture line a section of a shelf behind the bar and the agave-inspired painting by Rodrigo Treviño hangs in the entryway, as if to say "bienvendo, try some mezcal and here's to your health ". The shelves of the bar are lined with gleaming, crystal clear mezcal bottles, some with monochromatic labels, while others catch the eye and make you want to take a closer look. Mezcal isn't the only thing on the menu; sopes, enchiladas, taquitos, mole, local meats like rabbit and lamb, as well as salmon and chicken are incorporated into Tata Mezcaleria's take on Mexican nouvelle cuisine, or should I say, la nueva cocina mexicana.  Locally brewed La Bru and Mytika beers also are on the menu.

Located on Bartolome de las Casas number 511, several blocks from El Barrio de los Negros, Tata Mezcaleria is definitely worth checking out for anyone interested in artisanal foods, drinks, and a relaxed, colorful setting.

For more information, visit www.tatamezcaleria.com.mx

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Chocolate Puffs or Chupacabra Tripe

Chocolate puffs Halloween treats are
yummy and Don Goyito approves!
In honor of  Halloween, when little children in the USA binge on candy and parents cringe at the thought of the dentist bill, Don Goyito and La Güare developed a special "spooky desert" recipe. We've named them "Chupacabra Tripe" because they do look like pieces of intestine.  These fried dough delights are actually a variation of So-Easy Golden Puffs recipe taken from our own New York kitchen bible; the 1963 edition of the Good Housekeeping Cookbook.  We added in cocoa powder and cinnamon and they may look like something you'd find floating in a toilet bowl, but they are scrumptious pieces of fried glory that make you feel particularly ghoulish when you eat them.

Give them a try and let us now if you enjoyed eating these odd looking pieces of chocolate fun. Enjoy!

Chocolate "Chupacabra Tripe" Puffs

  • 2 cups sifted all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar (we used Mexican brown sugar, that is somewhere between brown sugar and white sugar, it is "tan" sugar)
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg
"Chupacabra tripe" looks rather, um, well, gross, but we
promise, they are yum-yum GOOD!
Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl.With a fork, stir until thoroughly mixed. Fry spoonfuls in hot oil (about 375°F). We let long strands fry up in the hot oil, creating the "tripe" effect. Let them cool and then top with powdered sugar or a cinnamon sugar mix (as seen in picture).

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Women in the Media, South of the US border

Lately, I've been looking into how women are portrayed in the media after I came across the Miss Representation videos on Youtube. Now, being from the "most powerfull country in the world" (the USA) and living in a country that is often described as "developing" or "Third World" I often see women portrayed in a manner that would get a lot of backlash in the mainstream media in the US, or so I thought. Turns out that women in the US are just as acosted and marginalized in the media as they are in Mexico. Even the most powerful women in US politics can't seem to get the respect their male counterparts get from the media. How can this be? I thought the US was "developed" and "democratic". I don't see a lot of democratic representation of women in the US or Mexican governments.

Who is to blame? Could it be Mexico's nieghbor to the North? Should we point the finger at the US like President Felipe Calderon did in 2010 when speaking about violence in Mexico? 
 "The origin of our violence problem begins with the fact that Mexico is located next to the country that has the highest levels of drug consumption in the world. It is as if our neighbor were the biggest drug addict in the world." The Atlantic Wire
Personally, I don't think it is really so much an influence of US mainstream culture or media. Women being treated as objects has a lot to do with a well known element of Latin American culture, "machismo". As it turns out, women in Mexico are getting stereotyped in the media by their own government. *insert record scratch sound HERE* Yes! According to this video titled Diplomado en Género y Lenguaje Incluyente en los Medios de Comunicación SLP/México 2012,

On average, on any given day in any given (Mexican) printed media shows us to 3 sexist expresions that exclude, objectify, ridicule and discriminate women.  75% of public service anouncement campaigns funded by the Federal Public Administration include content that make women invisible, or assign them gender stereotypes like mother, housewife, shopper or adjectives such as weak and passive.

These are tough issues to deal with because they are so present in our daily lives that we don't seem to even notice them. We've become accostumed to them. We have become desensitized, or perhaps, for some reason(s), we haven't even realized that we are making half of the population into objects that can not control or have any say in how they are portrayed in the media. The equal rights movement still has a lot of work left to do if you ask me, not just in the US or in Mexico, but all over the world.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Lactose Intolerant? Corn tortillas should be your new best friend!

I'm so excited to be posting entry because it was written by my good friend and amazing artist, Cyndie Katz and because it will be the first official guest blogger post on my blog! I hope you will also check out Cyndie's blog, www.theveggiepost.blogspot.com where you can get great information on health, fitness and living la vida to the fullest!

As a lactose intolerant individual and the mother of a lactose intolerant child, I am so grateful for this precise explanation of why people are intolerant and what foods help to make up for the calcium that you can miss out on if you don't consume milk. I personally drink soy milk that has calcium added to it, but eating a lot of corn tortillas is a yummy (and easy way considering I live in Mexico) alternative too!

Greetings Health Lovers!

Have you ever wondered why some people are lactose intolerant and others aren’t? I have. So I was grateful to come across Harold McGee’s On Food and Cooking, the Science and Lore of the Kitchen with a great explanation. Here’s a slightly paraphrased excerpt:

People who drink milk after infancy are the exception within the human species (no other mammals drink milk as adults). The obstacle is the milk sugarlactose, which can’t be absorbed and used by the body as is; it must first be broken down by the digestive enzyme lactase in the small intestine. 

Lactase reaches its maximum level in the human body shortly after birth and then slowly declines to a minimum level at between two and five years of age -- probably because It’s a waste for the body to produce an enzyme when it’s no longer needed and, once weaned, most mammals never encounter lactose again. 

If your body doesn’t produce lactase and you consume a lot of lactose, the lactose will pass through the small intestine and reach the large intestine where bacteria will metabolize it and in the process produce carbon dioxide, hydrogen, and methane, causing a bloated feeling or diarrhea. 

Low lactase activity and its symptoms are called lactose intolerance.

Lactose intolerance is the rule for adults, not the exception. However, several thousand years ago, peoples in northern Europe and a few other regions underwent a genetic change that allowed them to produce the enzyme lactase throughout life, probably because milk was an exceptionally important resource in colder climates. 

About 98% of Scandinavians are lactose-tolerant, 90% of French and Germans, but only 50% of southern Europeans and North Africans, and 30% of Aftrican Americans. 

Fortunately, even lactase-less adults can consume about a cup of milk per day without severe symptoms, and even more of other dairy products. Cheese contains little or no lactose (most of it is drawn off in the whey, and what little remains in the curd is fermented by bacteria and molds), and the bacteria in yogurt generate lactose-digesting enzymes that remain active in the small intestine and work for us there. 

What about the milk-from-calcium-for-bone-health issue? McGee has an answer for that too.

Various aspects of modern eating increase calcium excretion. A high intake of salt is one, and another is a high intake of animal protein, the metabolism of which acidifies our urine and pulls calcium salts from bone. The best insurance against osteoporosis appears to be frequent exercise of the bones we want to keep strong and a diet moderate in salt and meat but rich in dried beans, nuts, corn tortillas (yay!) and tofu (both processed with calcium salts), and several greens -- kale, collards, mustard greens.

These days I’m exercising my bones  carrying my huge copy of On Food and Cooking around. It’s just too fascinating to put down!

Take care!


PS. You can find Harold McGee at www.curiouscook.com

Friday, August 24, 2012

Why my Mexican relatives hate me breastfeeding.

It used to be (and perhaps still is in certain parts of Mexico) that a breastfeeding woman was seen like any other woman. She had a baby, the baby like any other person, would get hungry, so the woman would pull out her breast to feed said baby and everyone went about their lives as usual. Today, at a typical middle class Mexican birthday party, somewhere after the giant stuffed walking animals danced and gave away cheap plastic “made in China” toys, and the princess piñata, I had to breastfeed my four month old baby.  My cousin started to squirm and look uncomfortable.  “He isn’t hungry!” he exclaimed as I put a blue blanket on my shoulder, to cover up my son’s little mid party snack.  I smiled and continued to position him so he could latch on.  My male cousins all stood up from the table with looks on their faces somewhere between disgust and distain and left me sitting alone at the table.  

In Mexico, like much of the industrialized world, breastfeeding took on a negative aspect. The norm became that the poor, uneducated women breastfed while affluent, educated mothers bought formula made in the United States. They mixed the powdered cow’s milk with “special” designer water and used plastic brand name bottles made in England.  Feeding offspring became a status symbol.  Much like the proliferation of c-sections for certain mid to upper middle class Mexican women who are too "posh to push" (or in my experience) too frightened by their ob/gyn to think they ACTUALLY could get a human being out through their birth canal without the need of a scalpel, breastfeeding is something that women from ranchos and shanty towns do.  

In 2012, breastfeeding seems to be making a comeback in Mexico, being promoted once again as the “best food for your baby”.  But society, at least middle class Mexican society, seems to be slower to catch on.  My own mother, a staunch supporter of breastfeeding, admonished me for breastfeeding my baby during my grandmother’s funeral mass. “The look on the priest’s face” my mother exclaimed, “when you took out your breast! You should have covered up!”  I sighed and wondered why a priest would be shocked to see a woman’s breast, could it be he wished he could see more?

The mommy wars that have been touted as of late in the US media saddens me.  See, I tend to idealize my home of origin.  There is so much about the USA that I miss and love.  But there is a lot that I wish would change too. Then again, at least the discussion is out there on the table, for everyone concerned to speak about.  Here, in modern day Mexico, the working precept “if you don’t talk about/see it, it doesn’t exist” apparently applies to all aspects of life, hungry babies and breasts included.

Alma M. Rinasz is a native New Yorker who has been living in Mexico for the past eleven years and blogs ocassionally about life in Mexico.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Giving Birth

5 months pregnant, on vacation &
preparing myself mentally for the big day
Over forty days ago, my third child was born. This time, it was al natural for me; that meant no drugs, no anesthesia, no "little help", just me (my mind) and  my body working together and do "our thing" waiting for the baby to show up. And in full disclosure, this was also a home birth. For those unfamiliar with the birthing business in general, this is something that has become quite popular in countries like the UK and even the USA. However, in Mexico, it is currently extremely popular for women to be cut open so as to have their babies removed in the "most sterile, safest" manner. I've never been particular to hospitals (unless I am sick then I think they are great) and the idea of some doctor cutting me open because he had a vacation planned near my due date or because she (and this did happen to me) had to be in Mexico City for classes, I made the decision to find a doctor that practiced humanized medicine and would be open to the idea of a home birth.  Having already had two medically "controlled" (vaginal) births with two different gynecologists, I knew that this wouldn't be easy.

It was a hard thing to do to convince my partner and mother that this was the right thing. We went to prenatal classes and even had a doula lined up for the day of the birth. But nothing could have prepared me for what it meant to have a baby like women used to before Western medicine started controlling how, when and where women give birth. I never imagined I would be sweating as if I was running a marathon, grunting, moaning and panting like so many women that have gone before me, but there I was at five o'clock* in the morning, just the same way I came into the world, trying to push another human being out of my body.
 (*this is still up for debate since that was the daylight savings time for Mexico)

Another human being? At the time, I wondered if maybe, by some weird accident, I didn't have bowling ball or extremely large-headed alien inside me. If I hadn´t been so focused on expulsing my baby, I would have laughed at myself.  But it wasn't a bowling ball or alien baby, it was a real, drug-free baby. And I did it, after almost three days of trying to get my oxytocin pumping and my contractions regular, I had another baby and this time, I was 100% present, I didn't pass out, have an anesthesiologist on top of my chest pushing the baby down, or my gynecologist use enormous scissors to cut "more space" for the baby (a.k.a an episiotomy). I was man-made drugs free and high on oxytocin and later endorphins.

There were times during labor that I thought I couldn't do it- I actually thought of asking my doctor to "get the baby out of me" but at that point I was fully dilated with a human head making its way down my vagina. It wasn't the right time to ask for a c-section and as I thought it, I heard a voice cheering me on like they do at the Boston Marathon: YOU CAN DO IT! YOU ARE ALMOST THERE! I could see the anticipation on my doctor's face, I felt as if he was in awe of what he was witnessing. I knew we had made the right choice in doctor now it was just up to me.

It took three different birthing positions before I found the right one for me. And as my partner's legs trembled and his arms shook from the weight of my body and the sheer exhaustion of holding me in my squatted position, I felt as if we were both having the baby. And we did. Another little human being to share in life in my Mexico.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A Mexican Coffee Drinker Gets "Not So Smart"

I recently came across an interview of blogger and author David  McRaney on Science 360 radio using my niffty TuneIn Radio App I downloaded onto my Blackberry. The interview got my attention when I realized McRaney, who grew up in rural Mississippi with a conspiracy theories obsessed father, was someone on a mission to prove something: to prove that critical thinking, analysis and reflection are the best way to go. Now, these are ideas that I am totally feeling and I take the whole "independent  thinker" shtick to heart.

Taking a  look at his blog, You Are Not So Smart:  A Celebration of Self Delusion,   there is a lot to get the independent thinking juices flowing.   Being  that this blog is dedicated to life in Mexico the post  titled  Coffee  caught my eye and at 38 weeks pregnant, coffee is one drug I consume daily. Mexico, according to the  National Coffee Association, is one of the world's largest coffee producing countries. This particular post  was published two  years ago and in it McRaney writes:

"The Misconception: Coffee stimulates you. The Truth: You become addicted to caffeine quickly, and soon you are drinking coffee to cure withdrawal more than for stimulation."  

There has been  more research published on coffee and the other more than 1,000 ingredients found in the beverage  since  McRaney summed up the misconception  and  laid  down "the  truth".  

In 2011,  an article on  Science Daily.com stated that researchers studying Alzheimer's found  " the first evidence that caffeinated coffee offers protection against the memory-robbing disease that is not possible with other caffeine-containing drinks or decaffeinated coffee."  Being the granddaughter of an Alzheimer's patient as well as the daughter of a stroke survivor, relating caffeine  consumption to protecting the brain is something for me to get excited about.  However, caffeine is addictive but I wonder am I really "drinking coffee to cure withdrawal more than for stimulation"?  I am also drinking it because  it  can  (maybe) possibly be good for me. 

Just this month the Chicago Tribune published the  article  "What is it about coffee? Research showing benefits for everything from liver disease to Alzheimer's?"  where a list  of  research related  information goes  into how  consuming coffee is not  just addictive but has many health benefits.  Some specialists, however, warn against the consumption  of coffee  pregnant women and children, one such being  Tasmanian  defence nutritionist, Chris Forbes-Ewan, but praises the benefits for certain humans, like Olympic  athletes. 

As I  type this post,  I have  just finished my one cup of Mexican grown coffee I bought at a local coffee shop. I have not stopped my consumption of coffee during any of my pregnancies and perhaps I am just like  McRaney says, not as  smart as I think I am, but I do know that contradicting research comes out almost  daily.  Coffee is addictive and  as it turns out, drinking it daily can also be very  good for me, which is also an important part of  "the  truth".  So, for now, I will stick to my one cup a day and  continue to use  coffee not only as a stimulant but as preventative  medicine. Maybe some scientist will publish research that  shows  that coffee makes you smarter...then  I really will be as smart as  I think  I am!