Monthly Archives: August 2010

Oaxaca Rug Exhibition + Sale @ Dos Perros, Durham, NC, October 5, 5:30-8:30 PM

All Friends of Oaxaca Are Invited!

Inviting Friends of Oaxaca: Meet the Chavez Family Weavers

Eric Chavez Santiago, director of education at the Museo Textil de Oaxaca (textile museum) and his sister Janet of the Galeria Fe y Lola, will be with us in Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill the week of October 4.    We will be hosting several welcome receptions for them.  They’ll be bringing naturally dyed, hand-woven wool rugs for exhibit and sale,  and will talk about the family tapestry weaving and natural dyeing process.  Both are very knowledgeable professionals, university educated, bi-lingual and have a wealth of information about indigenous textiles throughout the State of Oaxaca.  We hope you can join us.  Please send me an email to RSVP:

Tuesday, October 5, 2010, 5:30-8:30 p.m. Dos Perros– A Mexican Place,  200 N. Mangum St., Downtown Durham.

Join us at Dos Perros to meet Eric and Janet, chat, and see their extraordinary rugs.  We’ll provide the nibbles.  No host bar.  Stay on for dinner if you like.  Call the restaurant to make your dinner reservations (919) 956-2750.  Parking is free in the city lot across the street.  (They make a fabulous Cayenne Mango Margarita.)


Email to RSVP and for directions.

We are also organizing an event for Pittsboro, NC, during that week, so stay tuned for details to come.  Thanks, Norma

Chipil Grows Wild in North Carolina

Jose is with us today helping Stephen in the yard, clearing out the woodshed in preparation for winter, sorting through the detritis of a cluttered garden shed, and making a haul or two or three to the dump.  He and his wife just had a new baby boy, his third, three weeks old.  They named him for the king of birds.  “It’s a Native American name,” he tells me. “Those are my roots.  I am indigenous.”  His high cheekbones and sculpted Mayan-like profile speak to that.  Jose is from Veracruz, Mexico.  It is a place I’ve never been, but he speaks of it fondly.  His parents and some siblings are still there.  He hasn’t seen them since he came to the U.S. some years ago.  I suspect he is not documented, but it’s another version of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”  This is his third boy, age three weeks.  All the children were born here in North Carolina and that makes them citizens.  When we talk about this, I can see Jose is proud.  The two older ones, age seven and eight are getting an education and there is hope that there will be work for them that pays a good wage when they come of age.  Not like home.

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We are talking about food.  “Did you know chipil is growing in my garden,” he says to me, more of a statement than a question.  Chipil is a green leafy herb that grows wild in the Oaxaca countryside.  It is plentiful in our village of Teotitlan del Valle, is gathered and sold in the daily market, and used for flavoring much like cilantro.  “I don’t know how it got there” Jose says.  “Maybe a bird brought it in.”    I think, perhaps, or another immigrant in his neighborhood missed this herb so much that he brought it back with him when he returned and the seeds scattered.  I think of how indigenous people use what is given to them from the land — a centuries, millenia old practice.

Ah, chipil, I say.  The aroma of a mint-like parsley comes to mind.  That’s what is used to flavor tamales and squash blossom corn soup, yes?  “Yes,” says Jose, and I see the faraway look in his eyes.  Are you homesick, I ask.  “Sometimes,” he says.  “But, the work here is good and I am happy to be living here.”  We are grateful for his work, too, and for his company.  He is a bright, handsome young man who gives us a hand when we need it most.

NAFTA, Hybrid Corn, Oaxaca Milpas and Climate Change: Which Corn Will Survive?

June 16, 2010, The Nation, Retreat to Subsistence by Peter Canby

Here is a lengthy and worthwhile article written about the breakdown of NAFTA promises and the pressure on the indigenous Oaxaca farmer to give up small plot farming of native corn, beans and squash (milpas) in favor of supposedly more highly productive hybrid corn.  Never mind that it takes fossil fuel energy in the form of chemical fertilizers to feed hybrid corn.  Never mind that insecticides and herbicides required for this type of farming destroy the wild herbs and vegetables that could be the source for food evolution and seed adaptation.  The author suggests that it is the indigenous farmers who will develop the crops that will sustain drought, heat, cold, etc. because they will need to continue to feed their families and communities.  Just as maize was cultivated 8,000 years ago, the evolution of food will continue as long as adaption is politically and economically supported.

Other Uses for Cochineal Besides Lipstick Color

“Interesting. I knew carmine was used to manufacture ink and to add color to some foods and drinks. It’s used a lot in Oaxaca for Sweet Tamales (Tamales de Dulce) and to add color to Nicoatole ( A form of dessert), for Buñuelos during Christmas, and now lipstick. Nice. Greetings”  — from my friend Moises.

Range of cochineal colors

Anyone know what else?

A squished cochineal bug with lime juice