Casa de Colores School of Traditional Mexican Cooking

A Unique Culinary Adventure in Cabo

Archive for Mexico’s Bicentennial

La Cumbia del Mole

I am re-posting this entry because I have a recent run on classes making mole!  DO check out this amazing video that accompanies Lila Downs singing La Cumbia del Mole.

 
ROASTING AND PEELING POBLANOS FOR BICENTENNIAL CHILES EN NOGADA…

This entry is inspired by a recent visit from Manuel, a friend born in the Lower Mixtec region of Oaxaca who brought abundant blessings in the form of music and traditional Mexican foods.  In his home town a very few women still make a corn masa journey bread which dates back hundreds of years, called “totopos” although they are nothing like the corn chips we all know and love for snacking.  These totopos were carried by mule drivers on long trips along with dried meats and a dried salsa which could all be reconstituted with water, lightweight and hearty fare for the trail.  Manuel somehow got hold of some totopos, and brought them along to share.  I hope someday to get to the Lower Mixtec to find out just how they are made, before this wonderful ancient culinary tradition dies out.

He also brought along a couple of liters of real vanilla, labeled with the name of the Vargas family who produces it in Papantla, Veracruz where vanilla orchids are grown, based in Carrousel 22 of the Papantla market.  I compared it with the junk they sell here, which smells like an industrial cleaning product next to the real thing, which smells just like the flowers from which it is made.  In Tlaxcala it went for $20 pesos per 3/4 liter.

I would like to share a very special song by the amazing Lila Downs, born in 1968 in Tlaxiaco, Oaxaca not far from Manuel’s home town, the daughter of a Mixtec cabaret singer and an American cinematographer and art professor from Minnesota.  She is a graduate of the University of Minnesota, having grown up between Oaxaca and the USA, and she performs her own compositions which fuse with native Mixtec, Zapotec, Maya and Nahuatl musical culture.  If you are unfamiliar with her music, much of it appears on YouTube.  I highly recommend you search for and listen to the version of La Cumbia del Mole called “La Cumbia del Mole Video Mix” on YouTube, which presents Lila’s hypnotic lyrics with a cumbia beat — cumbia being a Columbian Caribbean rhythm originating from African slave courtship dances… along with stunning images of Oaxaca, mole ingredients and preparation.  YUMMY!

With love and many thanks to Manuel, here is my translation of her lyrics.  I hope you visit Lila Downs at YouTube and sing along.  ¡Buen provecho!

La Cumbia del Mole, Lila Downs

It is said that in Oaxaca they drink mezcal with coffee

They say that herbs cure bad faith

I love the mole that Soledad is going to grind up for me

My dear Soledad is going to cook up a wonderful mole

From the heavens of Monte Alban, at night I dream of you

It’s made of ground peanuts, the bread is ground as well,

Dried almonds are ground with chile and also salt

That chocolate is ground with cinnamon

Pepper and cloves, moving the mole grinder

They say that in Oaxaca chocolate is made with water

They say in the festival of the little bulls it must burn

For the one who orders the passion of Soledad…

Breakfast Under a Volcano

¡Muchos saludos a todos! I’ve been in Tlaxcala and Mexico City visiting my guy Manuel for the past couple of weeks, truly enjoying the sights, smells, sounds and flavors of Colonial Mexico.

Tlaxcala is Mexico’s teeny tiniest state just north of Puebla and only about an hour and a half from Mexico City. It’s a beautiful city steeped in history and culture, yet I only saw a small handful of tourists—Germans—during my visit. I’ll do another entry on Tlaxcala’s amazing market which has operated on the same spot for hundreds of years, long before the arrival of the Spanish and still selling many of the same products sold since it first opened, including live animals! I also want to tell you about my visit to Mexico City…

But today I want to put up a few pictures of El Portalito, a tiny kitchen serving up home cooked breakfast and comida not far from Manuel’s house in Tlaxcala. He took me there knowing I would appreciate the artistry that went into decorating the tiny place, and the home cooked breakfast the ladies turn out there every day for amazingly little money.

I haven’t forgotten about the volcano! Not just one – Tlaxcala has fantastic views not only of the aptly named active volcano, Popocatépetl, “Smoking Mountain” – definitely smoking away as we speak, spewing plumes of ashes and steam – but also the lovely, sweeping slopes of dormant La Malinche, named after Hernán Cortés’ indigenous lover and interpreter, and yet another dormant beauty known as La Mujer Dormida, “The Sleeping Woman”. There are beautiful hilltop ruins overlooking Tlaxcala and the many charming towns which surround it, each with its own church. The ruins include the base of an ancient pyramid called the Pirámide de los Volcanos, the “Pyramid of the Volcanoes”, a reminder that this area has always lived under the spell of the volcanoes that surround it. It’s great to be back in beautiful Baja, but I really enjoyed my visit to this special corner of Mexico with its wealth of culture and traditional cuisine!

Don’t forget to wash your hands before eating…

¡Buen provecho!

Donna

La Cumbia del Mole

ROASTING AND PEELING POBLANOS FOR BICENTENNIAL CHILES EN NOGADA…

This entry is inspired by a recent visit from Manuel, a friend born in the Lower Mixtec region of Oaxaca who brought abundant blessings in the form of music and traditional Mexican foods.  In his home town a very few women still make a corn masa journey bread which dates back hundreds of years, called “totopos” although they are nothing like the corn chips we all know and love for snacking.  These totopos were carried by mule drivers on long trips along with dried meats and a dried salsa which could all be reconstituted with water, lightweight and hearty fare for the trail.  Manuel somehow got hold of some totopos, and brought them along to share.  I hope someday to get to the Lower Mixtec to find out just how they are made, before this wonderful ancient culinary tradition dies out.

He also brought along a couple of liters of real vanilla, labeled with the name of the Vargas family who produces it in Papantla, Veracruz where vanilla orchids are grown, based in Carrousel 22 of the Papantla market.  I compared it with the junk they sell here, which smells like an industrial cleaning product next to the real thing, which smells just like the flowers from which it is made.  In Tlaxcala it went for $20 pesos per 3/4 liter.

I would like to share a very special song by the amazing Lila Downs, born in 1968 in Tlaxiaco, Oaxaca not far from Manuel’s home town, the daughter of a Mixtec cabaret singer and an American cinematographer and art professor from Minnesota.  She is a graduate of the University of Minnesota, having grown up between Oaxaca and the USA, and she performs her own compositions which fuse with native Mixtec, Zapotec, Maya and Nahuatl musical culture.  If you are unfamiliar with her music, much of it appears on YouTube.  I highly recommend you search for and listen to the version of La Cumbia del Mole called “La Cumbia del Mole Video Mix” on YouTube, which presents Lila’s hypnotic lyrics with a cumbia beat — cumbia being a Columbian Caribbean rhythm originating from African slave courtship dances… along with stunning images of Oaxaca, mole ingredients and preparation.  YUMMY!

With love and many thanks to Manuel, here is my translation of her lyrics.  I hope you visit Lila Downs at YouTube and sing along.  ¡Buen provecho!

La Cumbia del Mole, Lila Downs

It is said that in Oaxaca they drink mezcal with coffee

They say that herbs cure bad faith

I love the mole that Soledad is going to grind up for me

My dear Soledad is going to cook up a wonderful mole

From the heavens of Monte Alban, at night I dream of you

It’s made of ground peanuts, the bread is ground as well,

Dried almonds are ground with chile and also salt

That chocolate is ground with cinnamon

Pepper and cloves, moving the mole grinder

They say that in Oaxaca chocolate is made with water

They say in the festival of the little bulls it must burn

For the one who orders the passion of Soledad…

TRADITIONAL MEXICAN CUISINE GRANTED UNESCO STATUS

July 24, 2010 – Mexican cuisine is so interwoven with the country’s centuries-old cultural traditions that it has just received UNESCO status as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.


Mexico’s application to UNESCO stressed that the ingredients, the recipes and food-related customs of Mexico embody “a complex cultural system of agricultural practices, traditions and symbolism imbued with religious meaning and steeped in ritual.”  Corn, a Mexican native and diet staple, is inexorably linked to Mesoamerica’s creation myths as well as the harmonious management of the environment and ancient social expressions via festivals, the planting and harvesting of crops, funerary and other indigenous customs that provide for nutritional balance and a wonderful variety of profoundly original traditional dishes which have been lovingly preserved over the centuries.

With plenty of enthusiastic endorsement from cultural authorities, food experts, social activists and tourism representatives, Mexico has continued over the past ten years to submit the country’s traditional cuisine for consideration by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).  Mexico was the first country to nominate its national cuisine as an example of intangible cultural heritage, a special designation also granted to the Day of the Dead festivities in Oaxaca and the Carnivals of Oruru, Bolivia and Barranquilla, Colombia.

The Casa de Colores is proud to support Mexico’s effort to preserve and share its unique cultural traditions as we approach our centennial and bicentennial celebrations!