Midwesterner in Mexico Rotating Header Image

November, 2008:

Turkey Day in Mexico City: Sunny & 75°F

We had quite the fancy spread by the pool for Turkey Day!

We had quite the fancy spread by the pool!

To add to my list of “firsts” here in Mexico, I can now add “having Thanksgiving Dinner outdoors by a pool in 75-degree weather”.  This may not be novel to those of you in warmer climes, but for those of us whose past Thanksgiving celebrations have been limited almost exclusively to states north of the Mason-Dixon line, it is a landmark event.

The new casserole warmer: the outdoor grill

The new casserole warmer: the outdoor grill

Several of our fellow apartment building-dwellers collaborated to arrange a feast fit for a king, complete with fancy china & fairy lights. An impressive THREE turkeys sacrificed their lives for our gathering, ensuring that all attendees went home at the end of the evening with individual packets of turkey leftovers ready to be made into tasty sandwiches this weekend. Also thanks to the high ratio of midwesterners (and those with good midwestern food sensibilities), we had no shortage of suuuuper-tasty casseroles & other carb/dairy laden goodness.

Let the record reflect, this was not my plate...though mine may have looked similar...

Let the record reflect, this was not my plate...though mine may have looked similar...

As per tradition, we piled our plates as high as we could & then all ate until we could barely breathe.  Ahhh American holidays, God bless.  Fan favorites were magical handmade dinner rolls, incredibly light & fluffy sweet potato souffle, and three kinds of stuffing (2 sausage, 1 cornbread). We came bearing our personal favs– pizza dip, swiss cheese/green bean casserole, pecan pie, and the illustrious annual cranberry daiquiris. Apparently cranberries don’t exist here, so we were forced to reconstitute dried cranberries, but they performed admirably well.

Us savoring our daiquiris while I wear my "handmade" Turkey Necklace

Us savoring our daiquiris while I wear my "handmade" Turkey Necklace

Thanks to all participants who made our first Mexican Thanksgiving an experience that neither we nor our waistlines will soon forget!!

 

 

 

 

We dined by Christmas lights as dusk fell

We dined by Christmas lights as dusk fell

...and a view of the festivities from above...

...and a view of the festivities from above...

Happy Birthday to Me

In lieu of the witty posting about some aspect of Mexican life that you were expecting to find here, I will instead take this opportunity to post a self-aggrandizing Happy Birthday to Me announcement for this Tuesday November 25th. I am excited as John is taking me to Pujol tonite, some trendy restaurant here in Polanco that is reputed to have an “…individualistic and insightful approach to Mexican cuisine.” (thanks, OpenTable)

Anticipation is high, as one of the common items on their tasting menu is chapulines, better known to many as the common grasshopper. As per my last posting, I have generally shied away from the wonderful world of insects thus far here in Mexico, but perhaps that will all change tonite??

Anyway, my head is currently swimming with too much macroeconomics-related info from my MBA class homework, so instead of words I will try to entertain with randomly selected photos of the birthday girl herself.

 

Lovely ladies at the Marine Ball

Lovely ladies at the 2008 Marine Ball!

Me with a gun-toting mariachi at my friend Carolina's birthday festivities!

Me with a gun-toting mariachi at my friend Carolina's birthday festivities!

Me in the Zocalo on Dia de los Muertos with some sort of wild skeletor-altar

Me in the Zocalo on Dia de los Muertos with some sort of wild skeletor-altar

Why buy a fancy moustache when you can accomplish virtually the same effect with your own hair?

Why buy a fancy moustache when you can accomplish virtually the same effect with your own hair?

Note to self: sometimes your neighbors get displeased when the bulk of your house party ends up outside your house & in front of theirs...

Note to self: sometimes your neighbors get displeased when the bulk of your house party ends up outside your house & in front of theirs...

After this photo, Bertie & I took these guys aside for an intervention from the E! Fashion Emergency team.

After this photo, Bertie & I took these guys aside for an intervention from the E! Fashion Emergency team.

Live caterpillars: Not my normal market purchase

The markets of Mexico provide for a veritable photographic wonderland, provided you are ballsy enough to break out your camera, blatantly take a photo of something, and run away without buying anything– all under the EXTREMELY watchful eye of the vendor of the object in question. Normally I am a bit shy when it comes to taking touristy photos in the not-so-touristy markets, but the other weekend, the spirit moved me to take not only a photo but a whole VIDEO!!  (a crappy, bad-resolution video, but a video nonetheless)

One of the most beautiful sights at the markets is the amazing, vibrantly-colored fruits and vegetables. I can identify only about half by name, but I love to peruse and silently hypothesize about their flavors and uses. The berries here are particulalry amazing– gorgeous, plump strawberries, blackberries, you name it, they’ve got it. (that said, I haven’t seen any snozzberries yet)

Anyway, we were wandering through the alleged “foodie market”, Mercado San Juan, with our **!!!first visitor from the States!!!** (my lovely former college roommate, Jen). While she stopped to negotiate a deal on some powdered mole with one vendor, I stared longingly at the piles of pretty berries behind us. As my gaze continued down the various cartons of colorful fruit, you can imagine my surprise when I saw movement.

Yes, a special carton (appreciatively set aside from the fruit) held a thin layer of maguey worms (or gusanos del maguey), a popular edible caterpillar here in Mexico. These little guys infest both Agave tequilana plants & maguey plants, and are considered a delicacy here. Apparently they are also über-nutritive: a mere 3.5 oz packs over 650 calories (just what I need in my carb-laden diet down here).

I resisted the temptation to buy a bagful to bring home for a fry-up (didn’t want to risk hearing dozens of tiny voices screaming out in pain), but I did manage to grab a quick, grainy video showing your potential next meal in action.  As they say in Mexico, buen provecho (enjoy your meal).

 

Good Power Tools Know No Borders

As you walk amongst Mexico City’s innumerable markets/stores/carts/stalls/street vendors, one occasionally gets the slight, nagging impression that some of the products you are seeing are knock offs…  :) The source of many of these items is often a mystery.

In my previous life (a.k.a. 6 months ago), one of the customers I worked with was Black & Decker/DeWalt, so this store immediately caught my eye:

We got yer high-powered tools right here!!

We got yer high-powered tools right here!!

As an optimist, I would like to think that a store selling knockoffs would not be careful/exacting enough to get all those B&D logos right. :) Hence, I can only assume that all products inside are real, official DeWalt / Black & Decker tools– ideally adorned with semiconductors from everyone’s favorite supplier, yours truly. Now we will just have to hope that these über-official stores dominate over folks like Makita & Bosch, which I am guessing–best case–are being sold by random street vendors along the Periferico during heavy traffic…

Snacks of D.F.: Alegrías

One of the many hot sales items in the streets & the stalls of D.F. are these little numbers, which I understand may or may not be called alegrías. This word means ‘happiness’ in Spanish, which is essentially how you HAVE to feel when eating anything this brightly colored. The paper-thin disks are usually made from ground up amaranth, a grain most similar to corn. Then, the insides are lined with a honey-ish substance to make them stick together, and some seeds (my vote is pumpkin) fashionably line the edges. (Wow, if that isn’t a data-heavy, clearly-well-researched description, then I don’t know what is.)
These food colorings are totally natural. Trust me.

These food colorings are totally natural. Trust me.

I received my first alegrías from a semi-regular taxi driver that I took a liking to because a) he knew an efficient route from my work to my house, b) his car doesn’t stink, c) his car doesn’t have stink covered up with crappy air-freshener, and d) I can understand maybe 70% of his Spanish. Carlos was supposed to pick me up one day, but after waiting ~30 minutes on the street with a dead cell phone, I returned to my office & called back to discover he was stuck in traffic somewhere & would not arrive in the forseeable future. Boo.

However, given the horrors of traffic here, I magnanimously decided to give him a second chance. He showed his appreciation through a gift of alegrías awaiting me in the taxi. And as you can see in the photo, they did indeed elicit happiness.

P.S. For any of my local readers, please feel free to correct me on any of the various likely-inaccurate facts mentioned above. :)

The witty statues of Chapultepec Castle

This weekend we visited the amazing Castillo de Chapultepec aka Chapultepec Castle in the massive park near our house. I will post more photos of this amazing structure at a later date when sleep is not as critical for me, but in the interim, I must share three statue photos that I took a shining to.

This statue is clearly thinking, "Does this dress make me look fat?"

This statue is clearly thinking, "Does this dress make me look fat?"

 

This statue seems to have his legs pressed together slightly, glancing nervously off to the side & hoping that the lizard who is currently just above his left knee does not progress any higher up his inner thigh...

This statue seems to have his legs pressed together slightly, glancing nervously off to the side & hoping that the lizard who is currently just above his left knee does not progress any higher up his inner thigh...

 

She seemed to be waiting for someone to respond to her obvious gang sign, so I was happy to oblige.

She seemed to be waiting for someone to respond to her obvious gang sign, so I was happy to oblige.

Election Night 2008: Expected Highs and Shocking Lows

Tonight John & I had the honor to witness one of the most hotly contested elections in our limited political lives, while attending the US Embassy Election Night Party in Mexico City.  Quite the interesting experience. The excitement surrounding the big Obama win was somewhat marred by the news early in the evening of a plane crash in Mexico City, only about 1 mile away from where our festivities were happening.

During the evening we learned that 8 people were killed in the plane crash, including Mexican Interior Minsiter Juan Camilo Mourino and Deputy Attorney General Jose Luis Santiago Vasconcelos, along with at least 6 people killed on the ground & 40 injured.  Mourino was a close ally of President Calderon & the highest ranking national security official in the government, and Santiago Vasconcelos has been a key player in the army-led war on drug cartels. If those facts PLUS the fact that this incident occured on the night of the US Presidential Elections in central Mexico City one block off the major Periferico highway aren’t enough to raise your eyebrow, there’s more.

One of our friends was out at one of the rooftop restaurants here in Polanco, about 0.5 miles from the site of the crash. As a former pilot, he saw the entire thing from the roof & stated with a high degree of certainty that this did not to appear to be an “accident”, as the initial press reports claim. The Learjet dropped from normal altitude into a ~170-degree fast-paced dive towards the ground. To be clear, this was not a “oops-my-engine-went-out” or “I-lost-a-wing”, corkscrew free-fall to the ground. Rather, the plane directly nosedived at increasing speeds with lights visible the whole way down, meaning there was no loss of power. He lost sight of it after it went below the building line, but did see the massive fireball that emerged after the plane crashed into a number of parked cars that exploded around it.

Suspicions are high-to-quite-high, despite initial commentary from the Communications Minister regarding “everything pointed to the crash being caused by an accident”. Hmpf. For most of us, it seems to be a harbinger of a new level of activity among the narcotraficantes here in Mexico & a slap in the face of the government who is trying to control them. A little scary, to say the least.

On a happier note, we were thrilled to mark the momentous occaison of Barack Obama winning the US Presidential Election with probably ~1,000+ of our closest friends at the Camino Real Hotel in Mexico City! John had the priviledge of playing a key role during the night as Uncle Sam, dressed up like a Disney character who doesn’t have to talk very much, just take lots of photos. :) I was honored to join Emilia in the key role of “Uncle Sam’s Handlers”, so we escorted him around the ballroom, helping to take photos with fans & ensuring that no one got too frisky with Uncle Sam’s see-through pants.

I have to say, it was pretty exciting to hear both McCain’s concession speech as well as Obama’s acceptance speech. I got a little weepy during both, as it is pretty crazy to think about both how far we have come as country to elect an African-American to office, and how far we have yet to go to get everyone in the US on board with the concept. I will spare you any further philosophizing at 1:26AM, and just let you check out a few photos from the festivities this evening.

Señor Oinks-a-lot

We went for a wander downtown a bit north of the Zocalo on Sunday as well, arguably into a not *quite* as touristy neighborhood (as one might have extrapolated from the pairs of cops standing at each intersection we walked through). But one bonus find on our excursion was the OTHER Lucha Libre venue, Arena Coliseo. We were momentarily tempted by an offer of front row seats for a pretty sweet line up (Dos Caras Jr., Maximo the gay luchador, AND girl fights), but instead decided to continue exploration. BUT, not until after getting a pic of me with two of the best luchador mascaras I’d seen as of late.

I'm not certain if this is a real luchador mask, but if it isn't, I feel like someone is missing a big marketing opportunity with the name "Señor Oinks-a-Lot"

I'm not certain if this is a real luchador mask, but if it isn't, I feel like someone is missing a big marketing opportunity with the name "Señor Oinks-a-Lot"

For those interested in a Lucha Libre match at Arena Coliseo in Mexico City, the fights are only on Sundays. The address is Republica de Peru #77, and the closest metro stop is Allende. If walking from the Zocalo, take Avenida Republica de Brazil north. However, I make no guarantees of finding kick-ass lucha-pigs like these.

Taking the lizard out for a walk

No, that’s not some sort of inappropriate analogy (grow up, people). Apparently it is a popular activity here in Mexico City, as I observed when wandering around the Zocalo this past weekend to see the Dia de los Muertos displays. 

If you thought lizards are happy just to sit in aquariums all day, boy were you wrong.

If you thought lizards are happy just to sit in aquariums all day, boy were you wrong.

The questions that immediately pop to mind when I see this are:

  • What is the lizard chained to? This guy’s wallet? A bracelet? A nipple ring?
  • How often do lizards have to wee?
  • Was the lizard really interested in Dia de los Muertos, or is just zoned in on a fly?
  • Is this guy actually just a very thoughtful lizard owner, or is he just pimping the lizard out to get people to pay him to take a photo w/the “Lizard on a Chain”?

I hadn’t given too much thought to that last one until I mentioned it to my boss. He informed me that there is apparently an old woman who regularly walk laps around the Zocalo area with a large duck under her arm that is as big as a medium-sized dog, just to get money from people who want a photo with the duck. Brilliant. My new mission is to a) find the Duck Woman & get a photo, and b) buy a ring-tailed lemur to help me make some extra cash on the side.  Who doesn’t love a ring-tailed lemur?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...