Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Monday, November 22, 2010

100 years

Over the weekend, Mexico celebrated the centennial of its 1910 Revolution. The federal government spared no expense putting on a multimedia light and dance show in the Zócalo called Yo México. The hour and half long spectacle combined video/light projection, pyrotechnics, music, dance, narration, and fireworks to illustrate the history of Mexico City. The historical narrative took more of a "dancing through the decades" than a "people's history of Mexico" approach; in other words, they glossed over some of the country's more troubling moments. That aside, it was quite possibly the most virtuosic display of video projection I've ever seen, and some of the historical events depicted actually happened in the same physical space of the Zócalo. Pure, eye-popping entertainment. I went to see it four times.

All of the surrounding buildings served as projection surfaces.

This was cool. They projected an exact image of the Palacio Nacional onto the Palacio Nacional and then animated the building (flat) to look like it was breaking apart and pushing forward to form a step-pyramid.

Fireballs during a pre-Hispanic dance sequence. They really warmed the place up.

The Spanish conquest of the Aztec capitol Tenochtitlan was particularly moving because it happened right where we were standing. The Templo Mayor pyramid, pictured above, still exists. The ruins are just to the left of this building.

Christianity arrives. Check out how they highlight the architectural details of the cathedral in the background.

The show continues on through time to present day, and the projections get more and more psychedelic. In one part, the cathedral looks like it's breathing -gently expanding and contracting. And for the 1985 earthquake, all of the buildings appear to be cracking and crumbling. I could go on forever about this, and I want to! I've never seen anything like it. Here's a YouTube video to give you an idea.


Sunday, November 21, 2010


It's back. I've been waiting all year for this heart-warming holiday treat. Ponche is code for hot punch with tropical fruits. You can buy it from street vendors just about anywhere this time of year, but I decided to try and make it myself.

Ingredients generally include guava, apple, tejocote (orange things), tamarind, sugar cane, a piloncillo (block of brown sugar), and cinnamon stick.

Boil in water for a long time.

Serve hot with chunks of fruit and a piece of sugar cane. (Maybe add some rum?) To me, the flavors are much more complex and satisfying than apple cider. Really good.


Monday, November 15, 2010

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Día de Muertos en Michoacán

Our friends invited us on an excursion last week to Lake Pátzcuaro, in the state of Michoacán, where the tradition of Day of the Dead holds strong. The lush landscape and fresh air alone made the trip worthwhile. We visited a pre-Colombian archaeological site in the town of Tzintzuntzan, and just down the hill, we caught a glimpse of the local cemetery. It was hard to miss.

For me, walking through this place was one of those rare experiences of heightened senses and emotion. The air was still, plumes of incense drifted past, sun shafts warmed the skin, and there was an overwhelming density of visual information.

Fresh fruit and bread hang from the ofrendas.

Each grave is a person. It seems like an obvious thing to say, but I'd never really considered it before. Seeing these public displays of love for each individual in the cemetery definitely gave me a new perspective.

(The pyramids we went to are in the background.)


Sunday, November 7, 2010

Salsa de Soya

Eggplant in a sauce made from miso, soy sauce, ginger, and toasted cumin seeds. The yams were cut into long spears and roasted in the oven until well-caramelized before being dressed with threads of chile mora and soy sauce. I sauteed the chard and its stems and topped everything with some garlic chips and toasted sesame seeds. Brown rice is on the side.

This could be the start of many Japanese influenced meals. I just completed my first week working in the kitchen of a Japanese restaurant!



Thursday, November 4, 2010