Tag Archives: celebration

Viva Mexico! Happy Independence Day!

September 16 is Mexican Independence Day. All this past week every city, town and village I’ve traveled through — from Mexico City to Tenancingo de Degollado to Morelia, Patzcuaro and Tzintzuntzan — is preparing for the celebration.

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Right now, in Patzcuaro, Michoacan, the zocalo is filled with families waiting for the mayor to speechify.  On September 15, a tall castle built of bamboo appeared. At ten o’clock at night the wheels at the top of the castle will spin and propel firecrackers and a pyrotechnics display skyward announcing the independence once again.

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Flags, bunting, parades, musicians and red, green and white jello cups dominate the landscape. Across the land, mayors, governors and the President will shout out La Grita — the call for freedom from Spain that Hidalgo yelled in 1821. Children will wear the colors of their country. There is even a Liberty Bell. This is a photo tribute to Mexico and her Independence. untitled (197 of 378)RebozoMkt+Anniv-5Malinalco 41-26 Metepec 48-2Malinalco Best 59-38

The feast of the season is the red, white and green taste treat called Chiles en Nogada, created by the nuns in Puebla for General Iturbide who became Emperor of Mexico after independence from Spain.

Mexico Colors-14 Michoacan-3 Mexico Colors-11I’m not sure that Mexico can be topped by any other country for her widespread use of red, white and green. From confections to cake decorations to adornment on buildings, the color of the flag dominates everything this week.

Mexico Colors-10 Mexico Colors-8Mexico is a country of do-it-yourselfers. The Parisina fabric store (it seems like there is one in each medium to large size town) is filled with enough notions, textiles and glitter to outfit each man, woman and child in the country’s colors.

Mexico Colors And, if you need a flag, look no further than your neighborhood street corner, where you can get one in any size. Add a feathery hair adornment, a horn, a drum, and a whistle and you’ll be ready to join any band in town.

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At the Feria del Rebozo in Tenancingo de Degollado, State of Mexico, I saw many finely woven shawls that were in the colors red, white and green. They were hung like flags on display and I know that many women coveted them.

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Michoacan-7 Michoacan-6 Michoacan-4 Mexico Colors-12 Mexico Colors-5Michoacan Even at Casa Azul, home of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, an exhibit of her clothing featured a skirt in patriotic colors.  Diego_Frida_July2014-102 I’m writing this on the night of September 15. The firecrackers just went off. I heard the mayor call La Grita. Time to go to sleep, if I can sleep. Who knows how for how long the firecrackers will crackle and sizzle and burst with sound. Sending wishes for peace and freedom for all.

Michoacan-6 Michoacan-9 On September 16, we’ll go to the zocalo for the parade. Every Independence Day needs a parade, yes?

Feliz Año Nuevo — Happy New Year 2014 — Oaxaca Cheesecake Recipe

For the past week I’ve gone market shopping, both at the Sunday Tlacolula market and at the smaller, though equally satisfying Teotitlan del Valle market where I live.  It’s easier now that I have LaTuga — a market trip can be spontaneous.

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As the invitation list for my New Year’s Eve house warming birthday party dessert open house grew to over thirty, I realized I might not have enough pastries and wine.  So, I made multiple trips to Amado’s tienda to stock up on red wine and mezcal.

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At the market I bought flowers, queso fresco, sweet bread, goat cheese, and the ingredients to make tomato ginger chutney.  I usually do this in the North Carolina summer when there is a two week window for ripe tomatoes.  Here in Oaxaca, they are ripe year round.  The chutney is great warmed and poured on top of the goat cheese, then spread on bread slices.

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I made the fruit salad recipe I shared with you last week, but added mandarin oranges and poached, spiced crab apples.  Eloisa baked me three giant Chocoflan cakes, and on impulse I bought a big homemade, layered jello extravaganza at the village market.  It was a dessert buffet.

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Yesterday morning, I decided on the spur of the moment to make a New York style cheesecake when I saw Amado had two pounds of Philadelphia cream cheese in his case along with Alpura brand sour cream and a tube of Maria’s cookies.  My friend Ani gave me a gift of butter earlier, and I picked up a few extra eggs.  Instead of liquid vanilla, I used fresh squeezed lemon juice (called lima here) and zest.  I augmented the cream cheese with mashed and pureed queso fresco.  When it didn’t look like I would have enough cookie crumbs for the crust, I added some of the sweet bread to the Maria crumbs.  Adaptation is an important element for living in Mexico.

Lupe came to help me get the house ready and we prepared the cheesecake together.  Her son Daniel hung the papel picado flags and the piñata filled with candies for the children to dismantle with a stick at the end of the party.   Our village is party central.  On December 30, I was at Janet and Jan’s home for her birthday celebration. The flowers were abundant and the food delicious.

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I was too busy greeting, serving and schmoozing to take photos of my birthday accoutrements and friends.  The cheesecake disappeared before I could stage a photo shoot. Maybe those who did take photos will share them!  After everyone left, the rockets, firecrackers and band played on into the night to welcome the procession of the baby Jesus to Las Cuevitas.  Even my ear plugs didn’t help. We will join that celebration later today.

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Meanwhile, I am wishing you a very satisfying, joyous, content, and healthful new year.  May peace and fulfillment be yours for 2014.

Norma’s Pie de Queso — Mexican Style Cheesecake Recipe —

Disfruta!  Enjoy!

The Crust:

  • 1 package Maria cookies
  • 1 slice of sweet bread or any sweet roll
  • 4 T. sugar
  • 4 T.  melted butter

In a food processor, add the cookies and sweet roll, process until fine crumbs.  Add sugar.  Pulse until completely mixed.  Add melted butter.  Combine until butter is mixed throughout.  Pour out into a parchment paper lined 8-10″ springform pan.  Press crumbs firmly on bottom and up sides of pan about 1/4-1/2 inch.  Set aside.

The Filling:

  • 2 lbs. Philadelphia cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 lb. queso fresco (Oaxaca crumble cheese)
  • 1 C. sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • juice of 1/2 large lemon
  • 1 T. lemon zest
  • 1 C. sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In large mixing bowl with electric beaters on high speed, blend the cheeses until smooth and creamy.  Add the sugar and mix until white and smooth.  Add eggs one at a time until completely mixed.  Add lemon.  Beat for about 30 seconds.  Add sour cream and blend in on low speed until just stirred in.  Stir in lemon zest.

Pour into a buttered springform pan (line with parchment to make clean-up easier).  Put into preheated 350 degree oven.  Bake for 45-60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean from the center.  Turn oven off. Leave cake in oven to cool for 30 minutes or more before removing.

The Topping:

  • 1/2 C. sour cream
  • 3 T. sugar
  • 2 T. lemon juice
  • 1/2 t. lemon zest

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Stir all ingredients together.  Pour over top of cooled cheesecake and spread evenly over top with spoon or spatula.  Put into hot oven. Bake for 5-7 minutes.  Watch that topping does not brown or burn.   Remove and cool.

Strawberry Fruit Topping (optional)

  • 1/2 c. mashed berries
  • 3 T. sugar
  • 1/4 c. Cointreau (or Controy here in Mexico)

In a stainless steel pan, mix together the berries, sugar and liqueur.  Cook over high heat for 2 minutes until berries are mascerated, juice begins to form and the sugar is melted.  Remove and cool for about 2 minutes.  Pour over the sour cream topping of the cheesecake.

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If you cut a circle in the center and then make the slices from this circle, the cake will yield 16-20 servings.  The remaining center circle can then be cut in 4-6 wedges.

 

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And another sunset from the terraza to celebrate life’s infinite beauty.

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Cinco de Mayo and the Battle of Puebla

First of all, it’s important to know that today, Cinco de Mayo, is NOT Mexican Independence Day, which is September 16, 1810.

Nevertheless, it marks a significant date in history when the French army was defeated in Puebla on May 5, 1862, marking an important symbolic moment to curtail Napoleon Bonaparte’s designs on establishing a monarchy in North America.  When you visit Puebla you can still see the bullet holes in front of the house occupied by General Ignacio Zaragoza.

 

Most of us know Cinco de Mayo as a U.S. celebration of Latino culture.  There are 44.3 million Latinos living in the U.S. according to the 2008 census representing 15 percent of the population.

Perhaps we know Cinco de Mayo as the name of a favorite local Tex-Mex restaurant.  Isn’t there a Cinco de Mayo Mexican restaurant in your town?  There is in mine!  And today, many will of us will welcome the occasion to have a party and raise a toast to our southern neighbor with a beer or Margarita.  What are you doing tonight?

But there’s much more to it than that, according to historian David Hayes-Bautista, as reported today by CNN and Reza Gostar in GlendoraPatch.  It seems that Cinco de Mayo was a rallying cry in the U.S. by Latinos against the elitist French monarchy, which was sympathetic to the Confederacy during the Civil War.   At that time, Latinos sided with the Union, fearing that a Confederacy win would expand slavery to include them.

Puebla is Angelopolis, City of Angels

Dr. Hayes-Bautista, who is director of UCLA’s Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture, has uncovered the first groundbreaking research that links the celebration of liberation for Mexicans with the U.S. Civil War and the hope that the Union would prevail.  The win at the Battle of Puebla by the Mexican freedom fighters against the elitists energized many Americans early in the war when the Confederacy was powerful, especially Latinos.

So, as you raise your glass with a hearty Salud, recall that Latinos volunteered to serve in the Union Army in order to preserve freedom, independence, and fight for racial justice.

 

 

http://glendora.patch.com/articles/history-of-cinco-de-mayo-a-mexican-or-american-holiday