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Stuff Mexicans Like #20: La Gelatina (Jello)

10 Dec

 

Once considered (by me) to be only a special treat for extended hospital stays, Jello turns out to be the staple dessert in México. Planning a party in which Mexicans will be invited?  Your boss is coming for dinner? Someone getting married? There is only one dish that must always be present if you want to impress your Northern Latino visitors: Gelatin & Gelatin-based products.

Mexicans are so fond of Jello and the like that in Mexico one may find Gelatinerías (Jello stores) in nearly every city. Want something more fancy? Add fruit. Looking for sophistication? Pour a bit of Rompope on top. Creativity is called for? Think colorful layers. There is no end to the possibilities when gelatin is involved. Where United Statesians & Canadians may serve ice cream with each slice of cake, Mexicans serve….guess what?! Jello!

If you are watching your sugar intake due to your Diabetes or Gastritis (approximately 5 out of 5 Mexicans suffers from one or both at the same time during their lifetime), then you may want to substitute barbacoa (sheep cooked in a pit covered in Agave leaves), menudo (cow stomach lining stew), or carnitas (deep fried pork parts served with corn tortillas) in place of your delicious gelatina. All three are Mexican favorites and have more or less the same consistency as Jello.
Happy fiestas!

Mexican alternatives to gelatina that achieve the same effect in the mouth:

Barbacoa (sheep cooked under the Agave cactus in a pit) All Mexican mouths are watering at the sight of this image. 🙂

Menudo (Cow stomach lining in a spicy stew) Mmmm! Perfect for a lazy Sunday morning breakfast.

Carnitas (deep fried pork parts) I can taste the jellowy goodness now!

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Stuff Mexicans Like #18: Whiskey, Tequila, & Tecate

2 Jun

 There are certain unfallible truths that all Mexicans hold to be self-evident: La Virgen de Guadalupe is everything. Family always comes first. Everything is better with limon and chile. Futbol (soccer) is the only real sport. Seat belts are overrated. Real men drink Tecate beer.

While Corona maintains a cult-following in the states as well as among those in Mexico who do not have access to Tecate or are on a Mega Caguama budget (pronounced cahWAHmah; the Mega Caguama costs only $24 pesos for your giant 1.2 liter brown bottle), everyone knows Tecate is the only option for true red-blooded, cock-fighting, mariachi-singing Mexicans.

El Wiski

Whiskey (pronounced WEE-ski for those of you trying to improve your espanol), is the standard drink of all fresas (literally strawberries, fresa  refers to snobby, money-hungry, high-society Mexicans). Whiskey is synonymous for wealth, prestige, and power in Mexican society. A bottle or 16 are bought for the whole fresa table at upscale night clubs, like our own Mint, on Mesones here in SMA. Wiski is normally enjoyed with mineral water on the rocas or with la coca (see SML #12: La Coca).

El Tequila

Tequila, the staple beverage of Mexico made from the agave plant in the state of Jalisco, Mexico, is classic. Timeless. Mexicans abroad who want to publicize their Mexican pride drink Tequila. Wealthy high-class Mexicans drink Tequila. Poor Mexicans and nacos (low-class, uneducated Mexicans) drink Tequila. Housewives drink Tequila. 12 year-old boys drink Tequila. Singer/activist, Mexi-Tica, Chavela Vargas, reportedly drank at least one shot of Tequila everyday.

Malinchistas (sell-outs)

Many of my Mexican male friends, however, claim that Tequila makes them bravo (aggressive/violent), thus the standard replacement beverage: wiski. I don’t buy it though. When I hear the bravo argument, I interpret it as, “I have shame because I am Mexican but prefer to drink a foreign alcoholic beverage over my country’s own specialty:Tequila. The real reason I prefer Johnie Walker to Don Julio is because I am Malinchista.” (Malinchista refers to a Mexican who prefers a foreign culture over his or her own, usually due to an inferiority complex. The root word is Malinche, the Spanish name of the beautiful Aztec lover of Cortez and original sell-out/second mother of the Mexican race. She is the root of the famed Mexican word Chingada, the violated one)

Tequila is usually taken straight with sal y limon (salt & lime). It is sipped like tea, not downed into a greedy open throat, like some of my paisanos (fellow countrymen) are so fond of while on vacation in Cabo. Tequila is also popular in margaritas and palomas. Literally dove, a paloma is tequila with lime, salt, and grapefruit flavored soda, like Squirt, (or Esqueert, for those of you who are improving your espanol). Lastly, no visit to Mexico is complete without experiencing la bandera. La bandera (the flag) consists of a red, white, and green shot, just one of many drinks and recipes representing Mexican pride. In this case, you need a shot of white Tequila, a shot of fresh squeezed lime juice, and a shot of spicy bloody-mary mix. Don’t forget the salt. You take a sip of each, swirl them in your mouth, and swallow. Repeat. Yum! 

Top Shelf Tequilas

While Patron is the king of top-shelf Tequila where I come from in the states, Don Julio reigns south of the border. “Patron who?” my Mexican friends asked me when I first mentioned the big time label. Patron is a nobody in Mexico. Opening a bottle of Patron at a real Mexican fiesta would be like busting out the Taco Bell at Doña Maria’s rancho. It is not the same as the original. Not even close.

How much is too much?

“No menos de tres, no mas de seis” (no less than 3, no more than 6) is the conventional Mexican wisdom. I find, however, that this little gem of advice is only used for women, as men drink no less than 12, no more than 22. Double A, as Mexicans call it, is also quite popular for those who don’t know when to say when. This binge drinking is not, however, at all related to indigenous Mexican societies. Though Tequila was well-known and cultivated, it was punishable by death to get inebriated in Aztec culture. It was the benditos españoles (blessed Spanish) no less, who brought with them the love of excess and el machismo to the New World.

Want to get around a Mexican’s extreme manners (see SML #3: Manners) and hear what he or she really thinks? Offer him or her a drink or 5 of Wiski, Tequila, or Tecate. Los niños y los borrachos siempre dicen la verdad.”  (Children and drunks always tell the truth.) Or so goes the Mexican proverb anyway.

Salud!

Stuff Mexicans Like #17: Las Curvas

2 Jun
In many societies, the thinner the woman, the more attractive one considers her to be. (Just watch the latest Victoria’s Secret fashion show to get a glimpse of what the USA considers feminine and sexy these days.) Here’s a lil hint: 32-24-32. As for Mexico, turn on your television between the hours of 8am and 11pm tuned into any telenovela to see what Mexicans consider attractive for a woman. Hint: 38-27-40. 

Memories of nursing, the image of the capable chef, or likely childbearing abilities?
Perhaps it is the image of the soft, affectionate, nursing mother that draws Mexicans to curves like American travellers to backpacks and athletic sandals. Maybe it has more to do with the image of the capable cook, the provider of delicious meals, and the perception of “lacking for nothing” that Mexicans love. Studies have shown that men are more attracted to women who appear to be quite capable of bearing healthy children and continuing their family line. These traits are generally recognized by rosy cheeks and wide hips. Whatever the reason, women in Mexico can be seen daily in all their curvaceuos glory sporting xx-small t-shirts and size 4 jeans with their actual 34-38-38 flesh wedged in nicely.
Oprah’s “Women at 30 Around the World”
Oprah does a show called “Women at 30 Around the World” once a year. She asks each international woman what life is like for her in her country, in her family, what is expected of her, etc. Last time I saw it, the Mexican 30 year old representative was a soap opera actress who still ives at home with la familia (see Stuff Mexicans Like #1: La Familia & Stuff Mexicans Like #16: 20 en la Casa; 10 en el Carro; y 5 en la Cama). She said with a laugh, “Women eat as much as we want and we definitely don’t excercise in Mexico. Men like us soft with curves. Diets do not exist.” I think she was onto something.
Exhibit A:
Famous Mexican Actresses & Singers
    
Exhibit B:
Famous UnitedStatesian & Canadian Actresses & Singers
     

#12: La Coca (of Coca Cola)

21 May

What is the one beverage Mexicans prefer over tequila and agua de sabor? La Coca! It may as well be considered the 5th food group here in Mexico. In some, if not most, of my Mexican friends’ homes, if the garrafón of purified water and the Coca run out at the same time, the garrafón can wait. The Coca, however, is replaced immediately at the nearest tiendita (little store located in one’s garage or entry hall). Most family comidas (the most important meal of the Mexican day) are not complete without a bottle or five of Coca on the table. Coca is fed to the elderly, to babies in bottles, and to everyone else in between as a staple in the beverage diet. When a señora or a niño asks you for money or a stranger does you a good deed, like helping you change your tire in the street, the standard request is “Dame para una Coca, nomás.” Enough to buy a Coke is all I ask.

“According to Coke’s 2005 annual report, Mexicans lead the world by drinking some 533 8-ounce servings of Coke beverages per capita annually.”

(Read more at Suite101: Coca-Cola Global Sales: India Most Promising International Market | Suite101.com http://daniel-workman.suite101.com/coca-cola-global-sales-a8625#ixzz1pb4itYy0)

Water: A Basic Human Right?

Well, isn’t the Coca-Cola empire delighted, then, that Mexicans are drinking less water and more Coke? No! Either one is just fine with Coca-Cola! That’s because Coca-Cola owns Agua Ciel, the nationwide door-to-door provider of purified drinking water and mineral water. So is the love of juice a problem for Coca-Cola? Of course not! Coke also owns Jugos Del Valle, Nestea, and Powerade! As one student in class said, “I wondered why the government of Mexico has not filtered its public water supply, seeing that it is relatively simple and affordable. Then I heard the cry in the street advertising door-to-door service for Agua Santorini, and it hit me. I wonder what Coca-Cola and Pepsi pay the Mexican government to maintain the pollution in all public water sources?” Bingo.

“Es importante tener en cuenta que pese a que en México existen unas tres mil marcas, son 4 grandes corporaciones, extranjeras todas ellas, las que hoy controlan la extracción, el envasado, la distribución y la venta de agua en México. Específicamente estamos hablando de Danone (con sus marcas Bonanfont, Pureza Aga y Evian); Nestlé (con las marcas Santa María, Nestlé Pure Life y Pureza Vital); Pepsi-Cola (con el agua Electropura) y Coca-Cola (con la marca Ciél).
México es el país que más refrescos consume por habitante en el mundo. Ingerir alimentos y bebidas con altos contenidos de azúcar (incluyendo los refrescos) es una de las principales cau- sas que provocan problemas a la salud: como la diabetes. Una persona que padece esta enfermedad siente una sed permanente , por lo que debe mitigarla bebiendo agua. Como el agua de la llave esta contaminada, debe comprar agua envasada y así se cierra el círculo de las compañías fabricantes de los refrescos (como Coca-Cola y Pepsi-Cola) que producen la diabetes en determinadas personas, también venden el agua que alivia la sed de esos mismos enfermos. ¡Todo un verdadero negocio!”

From Euromonitor International: Bottled Water in Mexico (http://www.euromonitor.com/bottled-water-in-mexico/report):

“COMPETITIVE LANDSCAPE

  • Danone was the number one player in bottled water in 2010, claiming 26% of total volume sales. The company led still bottled water, the dominant category, with its Bonafont brand. It also ranked second in flavoured bottled water, where it offers the Levité brand. Coca-Cola was the second leading company overall, accounting for 24% of total bottled water volume sales. Coca-Cola offers the Ciel (still bottled water) and Ciel Naturae (flavoured bottled water) brands. Pepsi Bottling Group was the third leading player, claiming 13% of total volume sales thanks to its Electropura still bottled water brand. Other prominent players included Envasadora de Aguas en México S de RL de CV, Nestlé, Pepsi-Cola, Grupo Peñafiel and FEMSA.”
From Wikipedia: Bottled Water: 
“The United Church of Christ, United Church of Canada, National Council of Churches, National Coalition of American Nuns, and Presbyterians for Restoring Creation are among some of the religious organizations that have raised questions about whether or not the “privatization” of water is ethical. They regard the industrial purchase and repackaging at a much higher resale price of a basic resource as an unethical trend.[27]
The recent documentary Tapped argues against the bottled water industry, asserting that tap water is healthier, more environmentally sustainable, and more ecologically sound than bottled water. The film focuses on the bottled water industry in the United States. The film has received largely positive reviews, and has spawned college campus groups such as Beyond the Bottle.”

Problems with BPA found in the plastic that houses purified water (Wikipedia):
“The Beverage Marketing Corporation defines the bottled water market segment as “retail PET, retail bulk, home and office delivery, vending, domestic sparkling and imports”, but excluding “flavored and enhanced water.”[28] The Plastics Symbol no. 7 is a recent concern worldwide on discovery that large numbers of no.7 plastics are made with Polycarbonate plastic which, experimentally were found to leach bisphenol A. This chemical is a known hormonal disruptor causing miscarriages and birth defects, according to a study conducted by Case Western Reserve scientists. “Synthetic xenoestrogens,” one of which is Bisphenol A or BPA “are linked to breast cancer and uterine cancer in women, decreased testosterone levels in men, and are particularly devastating to babies and young children. BPA has even been linked to insulin resistance and Type 2 Diabetes.” Responsible baby bottle industries are producing BPA-free bottles that are clearly marked.

Reverse osmosis water purification systems can remove up to 90% or more of certain inorganic chemicals. These inorganic chemicals include: fluoride, sulfate, nitrate, iron, copper, lead, mercury, arsenic, cadmium, silver and zinc. Reverse osmosis can even remove some microbiological contaminants, including Giardia cysts. However unless equipped with an activated charcoal post-filter, reverse osmosis by itself does not remove dissolved gases and organic chemicals such as radon and trihalomethanes,<http://ag.arizona.edu/pubs/water/az9419.pdf>.

The U.S. is the largest consumer market for bottled water in the world, followed by Mexico, China, and Brazil.[41] In 2008, U.S. bottled water sales topped 8.6 billion US gallons (33,000,000 m3) for 28.9% of the U.S. liquid beverage market, exceeding sales of all other beverages except carbonated soft drinks, they are followed by fruit juices, and sports drinks.[28] Americans drink 21 US gallons (79 L) of bottled water per capita per year.[42]

Global bottled water market
Per capita consumption by leading countries, 2002-2007
2007 Litres Per Capita
Rank Countries 2002 2007
1 United Arab Emirates 133.2 259.7
2 Mexico 142.7 204.8
3 Italy 167.3 201.7
HEALTH HAZZARDS OF COCA-COLA CONSUMPTION (http://bolsonweb.com.ar/diariobolson/detalle.php?id_noticia=26208):
“La sucia verdad detrás de Coca Cola: Es peor que el tabaco

Como antecedente: En el libro “The Coke Machine – The Dirty Truth Behind the World’s Favorite Soft Drink“, el autor Michael Blanding examina la historia oscura de The Coca-Cola Company. El libro comienza con una descripción gráfica del asesinato del sindicalista Isidro Gil, hecho ocurrido cuando Coca-Cola fue acusada de complicidad con paramilitares para llevar a cabo asesinatos de sindicalistas en América del Sur. El prontuario de esta corporación es largo teniendo en cuenta que fue querellada en La India y México, ya que sus plantas embotelladoras drenaron contaminantes en las fuentes de agua locales. Diagnostico medico: Coca Cola, Pepsi y todas las gaseosas son peores que el tabaco acorde a los daños que causan al organismo.”
Marcas/Brands of Coca-Cola en México:
Coca-Cola, Coca-Cola Light, Coca-Cola Vanilla, Beat, Delaware Punch, Fanta, Fanta Multi-Sabores, Fresca, Fresca Toronja Rosa, Lift, Lift Manzana Verde, Quatro, Senzao, Sprite, Ciel, Ciel Mineralizada, Keloco, Kin Light, Mickey Aventuras, Nestea, Jugos del Valle, y Powerade

Stuff Mexicans Like #7: Chile y Limón (Lime & spicy chile powder/salsa)

20 May
Mexicans, like Italians, are known for being very passionate about food, among other things. While Italian food is rich and creamy, Mexican food is known for its vibrant flavors exploding in your mouth. Two signature sabores that complement a great deal of Mexican cuisine are: the tangy lime combined with the spicy chile. After all, who doesn’t want chile y limón on their potato chips and popcorn?
Dishes & Drinks
Some common Mexican dishes and drinks that regularly receive a generous squeeze of lime and a healthy shaking or squirt of chile are as follows:
  • all fresh fruit & veggies (canteloupe, mango, apple, orange, cucumber, banana, jícama, carrots, elote (corn), etc.)
  • popcorn
  • all nuts
  • potato chips
  • fish and all seafood dishes
  • tacos of any kind
  • taquitos
  • gorditas
  • tostadas of any kind
  • potatoes cooked any way
  • guacamole
  • chicharón
  • quesadillas
  • all soups and caldos (broths/stews)
  • salads of all kinds (fruit or vegetable)
  • rice
  • chicken and all meat products
  • beans of all kinds
  • tortillas
  • totopos (tortilla chips)
  • all tequila based beverages
  • beer of any kind (michelada)
  • juice of any kind (vegetable or fruit)
  • alcohol of any kind (except creamy)
  • anything at all bland and possibly edible