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Yo Si Bailo Thriller!

August 29, 2009

Yeah, I’m dancing Thriller!

Mexico City worked it out today to the tune of Michael Jackson’s Thriller, and won itself a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records… The most people dancing Thriller ever record? Something like that.

First though, they swayed along to Heal The World and We Are The World, and even sang happy birthday (well, Mañanitas) to Michael on what would have been his 51st bday. Sweet. Mexico te quiere mucho, Michael!!

Yo Si Bailo Thriller... Yeah, I'm dancing Thriller!

Yo Si Bailo Thriller... Yeah, I'm dancing Thriller!

Lots of little Michaels

Lots of little Michaels

Rain --> lite chaos

Rain --> lite chaos

Inverview with one of the choreographer/dancers

Interview with one of the choreographer/dancers

Undercover reporter in bright pink: Joy against the Thrillers

Undercover reporter in bright pink: Joy against the Thrillers

Little dancer hams it

Little dancer hams it

Some people made it an early Halloween

An early Halloween... Todos somos zombies!!!!

The view

The view

Group cheer!

Group cheer!

Checking out the souvenirs

Checking out the souvenirs

And some video… This was just their first practice- they went all afternoon and finally did the full 13-minute version to break the Guinness Record.

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Home again, home again

August 22, 2009

It’s been quiet here on the mexiblog for a while…

Well, at long last, I’m back.  But before I get down to the business of blogging about all things Mexico, por favor indulge me while I stray off-topic, and take it back to my other world, a.k.a. the motherland, a.k.a. Alaska.  I took a trip back to Alaska earlier this summer, which came as a welcome break, really, kind of an antidote to Mexico at a time I’d been feeling a bit over-Mexified.

It seems for a lot of people living abroad, home is like a barometer of just how much distance makes the heart grow fonder.  There are things you miss, things you’re glad to get away from, and things you didn’t really know you had till they’re gone.  Some days in Mexico I get pretty nostalgic for certain things I had when I lived in Alaska: a 10 minute walk to work, a cozy apartment with heating included, family, old friends, a salary that allowed a little wiggle room, good beer, forests, recycling, cross country skiing…  Fresh air, the smell of the ocean, a reliable postal service, NPR, hulu, bagels, you know.

It had been a year since I’d been back to AK, so I had to pack in my favorite things and places and people into way too short a time.  I went to beaches and backyards and rode on boats, watched whales and the 4th of July parade, ate potato salad, halibut, and salmon, drank plenty of Alaskan beer, made a rhubarb pie, walked in the forest, got a few bug bites and a little bit sunburned.

On the way back, doing the Juneau-Mexico City trip all in one day is kind of a doozy, so I came back to Mexico groggily, wishing for more time in my last frontier.  But I’ve definitely warmed back up to this Mexican life since coming back.  After all, this is home now too.

More on Mexico later…  Here’s some of my pics from Alaska Summer ’09.

Skipping rocks. That's the glacier in background, por supuesto.

Skipping rocks. That's the glacier in background, por supuesto.

Picnic at the beach, featuring a new classic: bun-based s'mores!

Picnic at the beach, featuring a new classic: bun-based s'mores!

4th of July parade, downtown Juneau.

4th of July parade, downtown Juneau

Hanging with Baby G :)

Hanging with Baby G

Big rigs = always exciting

The big rigs are as tall as the buildings, and always kind of exciting

A world champion beard, in the land of fully bearded men.

A world champion beard, in the land of fully bearded men

Just a few bagpipers

Just a few bagpipers

Whee! Driftwood fun at Sandy Beach

Fun with driftwood at Sandy Beach

Backyard barbeque

Backyard barbeque

Still life with beer

Still life with beer

Evening view of downtown Juneau from Douglas

Evening view, looking across channel at downtown Juneau from Douglas

Crossing the channel

Crossing the channel

Douglas bridge, blurry, from an SUV with Texas plates

Douglas bridge, blurry Juneau

Fireworks over the channel. The fireworks start at midnight, we have to wait till then for it to get dark.

Midnight fireworks over the channel

Wood chopping technique A

Wood chopping technique A

Wood chopping technique B

Wood chopping technique B

Captain Talbot on the lookout

Captain Talbot on the lookout

Went along on a boat run to pick up the miners off their island. They're so orderly getting on the boat, with their little toolboxes.

Went along on a boat run to pick up the miners off their island.

Bosco checks the view. He probably recognizes the Point Retreat Lighthouse, where he used to live as a puppy.

Bosco checks the view of Point Retreat Lighthouse, where he grew up.

Looking for whales...

On my friend's boat, looking for whales...

Looking for whales...

Looking for whales...

We found the whales! At one point they got so close it was kinda scary.

Whales! At one point they got so close it was kinda scary.

Beautiful day on the Boy Scout Trail. Beautiful, but hot and swarming with mosquitoes...

Beautiful day on the Boy Scout Trail

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¡Mole!

June 7, 2009

All right, let’s get this much out of the way: I love mole.  A few days ago I had some mole that I would qualify as just mediocre on the scale of mole greatness.  But, since it was on the scale at all (as in, it was mole), it was delicious anyway.

My favorite presentation of mole is on a plate of chicken enchiladas.  At first glance, it’s quite no-nonsense: shredded chicken rolled in tortillas plus the sauce…  But oh, the sauce.  It’s a sauce that I find often gets better as it cools off a little while you eat.  The chocolate flavor comes out of hiding more as it cools, and you may find yourself eating just a little more, and just a little more, until you’ve eaten yourself into a food coma that has your eyes crossing as you stare with overstuffed remorse at your mole-streaked Talavera plate.  Unless they really slathered it on, in which case you’ll never see that pretty ceramic plate, just an endless lake o’ mole.

I’m talking here about mole poblano, of course.  Though there are many moles to be found in Mexico, the poblano is the most famous, that richer-than-thou mixture of chiles, chocolate, spices, nuts, seeds, and about 20 others of your favorite ingredients, all toasted and/or ground up and mortar and pestled and cooked and stirred into sauce.

One of the main ingredients: chiles

Very necessary: chiles

The not-so-secret ingredient: chocolate

The not-so-secret ingredient: chocolate

The story goes that some nuns created this mole in Puebla back in the 17th century, when they received a surprise visit from some archbishop or other, and found themselves with nothing delicious on hand to serve him.  Well, they went for the kitchen sink approach, and turned a long and varied list of ingredients into the thick, dark sauce that we call mole.

Apparently the ingredient list has simplified a little over the years, but you’ll still need 20-ish little piles of seeds and stuff to turn your “I made my own mole” dreams into reality.  It’s famously labor-intensive, which means it’s often made in huge batches, and also means you will never, ever find me slaving over a vat of mole on a Sunday afternoon.  I prefer to continue my restaurant-to-restaurant and market-to-market gastronomic tour, sampling other people’s moles, thank you very much.  And really: thank you, very much.  To Mexican cuisine in general and those nuns back in Puebla, for giving us the culinary delight that is mole.

Reportedly, where it all began. The kitchen in the Santa Rosa convent in Puebla.

Reportedly, where it all began. The kitchen in the Santa Rosa convent in Puebla.

Oh, by the way, I’m not the only one singing mole’s praises.  Check out this Lila Downs song, La Cumbia del Mole.  She had both Spanish and English versions of the song on her album La Cantina. She’s singing about Oaxaca, the land of 7 moles.

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Enter Metal

June 4, 2009

Forget the swine flu… Mexico has come down with metal fever.

This weekend Metallica is playing in Mexico City for the first time in ten years, and metaleros are stoked.  So stoked that the original two concerts were sold out within an hour or so, and a third date was added, which also sold out promptly.  As far as I can tell, that makes DF second to only Copenhagen in the number of concerts planned on the current tour.  Copenhagen, btw, gets 5 nights.

Now, I haven’t thought much about Metallica myself since they were big in my middle school days.  But metal in general seems to have kept the fire burning here in Mexico– it’s certainly more popular here than anywhere I’ve ever lived.  Of course, I’ve never lived in Copenhagen.  But two of my coworkers are going to the shows this weekend, and one of them even went when they played here 10 years ago.  He’s also had the latest Metallica album cover as the desktop image on his computer for the past 3 months.   I’m telling you, the metaleros of Mexico are stoked!

And now… the metal has landed.  Lars and company arrived in DF yesterday.  So, 10 years of pent-up metal energy is releasing at the Foro Sol tonight, Saturday, and Sunday.  Ready, Set,  ¡Qué heavy!

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Snapshot

May 31, 2009

One of the things I love about this city is that there’s never a dull visual moment.  There’s always layers and layers of colors, contrasts and crazy stuff…

Like this little scene around the corner from my house.

mural

I’d like to think this is an alien polar bear ruling the world in an alternate universe.  But that’s just my take.

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The Sound of What?

May 30, 2009

The hills are alive…

With… The Rebel Nun??  What?

IMG_1531

La Novicia Rebelde has been showing here at the Teatro Insurgentes for a little while, and every time I walk by, I have to wonder what Julie Andrews would think of such blatant re-branding.

A friend pointed out that the play’s name en español kind of gives away the story.  Pretty much the first act, I’d agree.  And it almost turns  “How do you solve a problem like Maria?” into the flagship song, rather than “The Sound of Music” itself.  Hmph.

But it is one of my favorite re-namings I’ve seen so far, gets points for creativity.  It’s interesting to see which names stay the same in Mexico, which get a straightforward translation or just a slight tweak, and which names undergo a complete makeover.

Just a few examples:

“James and the Giant Peach” saw its hero renamed: “Jim y el Durazno Gigante.”

“90210” looks the same, but is pronounced “Noventa Doscientos Diez,” or sometimes nicknamed “Beverly.”

“Twilight” was straightforward: “Crepúsculo.”

“Law and Order” too: “La Ley y el Orden.”

“Slumdog Millionaire” got a verb: “Quisiera ser Millonario” (I’d like to be a millionaire).

“W.” became the rather more editorial “Hijo de … Bush.”

Then a lot of shows and movies just keep their original English names but get a slightly new accent.  Such as one that we’re still waiting for here in Mexico… Star Trek, otherwise pronounced as Estar Trek.

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Trucks ‘n’ stuff

May 25, 2009

In Mexico, you can buy stuff everywhere.  You might not necessarily come across what you want, when you want it, but the vendors of the informal economy are always around with something to offer.  From batteries to lottery tickets to cups of Jell-O, bootleg DVDs to the roving pen salesman, there are always plenty of wares to choose from.

Today I just want to celebrate the things you can buy out of the back of pickup trucks…

Fruits and veg!

Fruits and veg!

Plants!

Plants!

Okay, this is in Chiapas, but definitely deserves a nod: fresh banana chips!

Okay, this is in Chiapas, but definitely deserves a nod: fresh banana chips!

And that’s just scratching the surface.  There’s a pickup that comes around the neighborhood regularly, with a recorded voice playing over and over on the loudspeaker announcing its merchandise: used refrigerators, mattresses, tables and chairs, washing machines.  Like a portable garage sale, with free delivery!

You can get sandwiches from a pickup, wicker baskets from a pickup, handmade furniture from a pickup, used clothing from a pickup, and so much more.  I used to have my own little pickup truck, and I never put it to nearly such good use as this.  But if I ever have one again, I’ve got a few ideas.