Category Archives: holiday
[Today is Spanish Friday so this post will be in Spanish. For an English translation, please scroll down. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, please leave your link in comments!]
Anoche fui a una celebracion por el aniversario de la independencia de México. El evento estaba en un edificio bien bonito cerca del Washington Monument en Washington, D.C., que se llama The Organization of American States.
Primero, comímos. (¡Claro!) Había…
Ceviche y burrititos.
Tamalitos, chiles rellenos con atún cubiertos en semillas de granada, y diferentes tipos de empanaditas.
De tomar había…
Un montón de cerveza, tragitos de tequila y más – pero mi esposo Carlos (quién no fue al evento), me dijo que tengo que portarme bien. Entonces, sólo tome unos vasos de horchata.
Tuve el placer de conocer a el embajador de México y su esposa.
También tuve una charla con la madre del embajador involuntariamente. La manera en cómo paso fue que había una dama cerca de mí, que se parecía mucho a mi maestra de español en la escuela. Como Washington D.C. no es muy lejos de mi antigua escuela y este evento era sobre México y en español, yo pense que era posible podria se mi maestra.
Bueno, busque el coraje de preguntarle y la tocque en el brazo.
“Disculpe,” dije, “Su apellido no es S———, verdad?”
“No,” me dijo la dama, sonriendo amablemente.
“Oh, perdón. Usted parece a una maestra que tenía yo.”
“No pasa nada,” ella dijo graciosamente, tocando mi brazo, “Soy la mamá de el embajador.”
Casi me muero allí mismo. De todas las personas en esa gran sala, me encontré con la madre de el embajador!
“Oh!” dije yo, cuando encontré mi voz otra vez, “Mucho gusto.”
Ella seguía sonriendo y dijo “pero, soy maestra también.”
“Entonces,” dije, “Yo no estaba totalmente equivocada!”
En cuanto el evento, fue muy divertido.
Había música del “Trío Anaya.”
Me encanta la canción Cielito Lindo.
y había música de Mariachi – “Los Amigos.”
Aquí estoy portandome bien, aunque había tequila y mariachi. (Si no lo crees preguntale a mi amiga bloguera, Mariana. Ella estaba conmigo todo el tiempo! También conocí a Kety Esquivel y otra bloguera que se llama Julie. Todas eran muy amables!)
Miramos este video sobre México que era super bello:
Y claro, había la ceremonia del Grito.
“Entre los individuos, como entre las naciones, el respeto al derecho ajeno es la paz.” – Benito Juárez
Mi agradecimiento especial a: The Ambassador of Mexico, Arturo Sarukhan and Mrs. Veronica Valencia-Sarukhan, The Permanent Representative of Mexico to the OAS Joel Hernández and Mrs. Socorro Flores, The Mexican Embassy, The Organization of American States, and Kety Esquivel for the invitation.
Last night I went to the celebration of the Anniversary of the Independence of Mexico. The event was at a really beautiful building near the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C. that is called The Organization of American States.
First we ate. (Of course!) There was…
Ceviche and little burritos.
Little tamales, chiles stuffed with tuna and covered in pomegranate seeds, and different kinds of little empanadas.
To drink there was…
A whole lot of beer, shots of tequila and more – but Carlos told me I had to behave so I only drank horchata.
I had the pleasure of meeting the ambassador to Mexico and his wife.
I also involuntarily had a chat with the ambassador’s mother. What happened was that there was a lady standing near me and she looked a lot like my high school Spanish teacher. Since Washington DC isn’t very far from my old school and this was an event about Mexico and in Spanish, I thought it could very possibly be my teacher.
Well, I found the courage to ask and touched the woman on her arm.
“Excuse me,” I said, “Your surname isn’t S———, is it?”
“No,” the lady said, smiling kindly.
“Oh, pardon me. You look like a teacher I had.”
“No harm done,” she said graciously, touching my arm, “I’m the mother of the ambassador.”
I almost died right there. Of all the people in that big hall, I found the ambassador’s mother!
“Oh!” I said, when I found my voice again, “Nice to meet you.”
She kept smiling, “But, I’m also a teacher.”
“Well then,” I said, “I wasn’t totally wrong!”
As for the event, it was really fun.
There was music by “Trío Anaya.”
I love the song Cielito Lindo.
And there was Mariachi music by “Los Amigos.”
Here I am behaving very well, even though there was tequila and mariachi. (If you don’t believe it, ask my blogger friend, Mariana. She was with me the whole time! I also got to meet Kety Esquivel and another blogger named Julie. All were very nice!)
We watched this video about Mexico that was super pretty.
And of course there was the ceremony for El Grito.
“Among individuals, as among nations, respect for the rights of others is peace.” – Benito Juárez
A special thanks to The Ambassador of Mexico, Arturo Sarukhan and Mrs. Veronica Valencia-Sarukhan, The Permanent Representative of Mexico to the OAS Joel Hernández and Mrs. Socorro Flores, The Mexican Embassy, The Organization of American States, and Kety Esquivel for the invitation.
My Día de las Madres was … not normal.
I will let my tweets tell the story.
11:59 am – Salvadoran relatives just showed up without calling & I’m not wearing a bra. Fantastic.
1:31 pm – now we’re off to the National Mall for the day. Love these last minute plans inlaws come up with.
2:50 pm – Suegra took us to Roy Rogers for lunch & complained it’s too $. Tio is taking fotos of the Fixins Bar ROFL
3:12 pm – OMG Carlos esta pidiendo permission por los tios to take a foto in front of the portrait of Roy Rogers #muriendo
4:42 pm – Just saw a guy taking a photo in front of Washington Monument holding it as if it’s his penis #creativetourist
Unfortunately, I stopped tweeting after that because I was too busy rushing the Tíos through the museums. (Most of them close around 5:30, but of course, since this trip was last minute, nobody thought about that.) … Since I’ve been to the museums a million times I would be like, “Este es el gorro de Presidente Abraham Lincoln,” – then I would rush to the next interesting thing while they took photos, call Carlos on his cell phone and tell him where to meet me next.
My method would have worked better if the Tíos were more obedient, but they kept wandering off. Nine times out of ten we’d find them admiring some type of taxidermy animal.
In case you don’t believe me:
Thankfully I did have time to take a few more artistic shots that didn’t involve large Arctic animals. I’ve taken a million photos of the Washington Monument, (though I don’t have one where I’m pretending it’s a penis) – so I always try to get a new angle on it… This is my favorite from yesterday.
And my older son took this photo of me and Carlos.
I also filmed inside the METRO station as a souvenir for the Tíos. Surprisingly, the video does not end with me throwing myself in front of the train, but only because it was Mother’s Day and the kids were there.
I still really haven’t had closure to the whole Clementino situation. (If you have no idea what I’m talking about, check out Part I and Part II.) What kind of closure am I expecting? I don’t think there can really be any. I’ve tried to put words to how I feel about all this, mostly for myself, so I can untangle it and move on. Unrequited love is one of those tragic things that I find difficult to process, no matter which side of the equation I happen to be on.
This would all be hilarious that I’m suffering all sorts of angst over this piropo if Clementino was just looking for casual sex and doesn’t really love me. I’ve tried to convince myself of that but Suegra told me something that makes me think otherwise.
She went to the market the other day with my older son to buy phone cards. Clementino’s wife was at the counter and Suegra said she could hear Clementino in one of the aisles stocking shelves. Suegra bought the phone cards and then requested to purchase Bubu Lubus, (for me of course.)
Well, Suegra says that as soon as she said the words “Bubu Lubus,” – Clementino raced to the front, almost tripping over himself. He came out to the front counter, and seeing Suegra at the register, started looking around the rest of the store. When he presumably saw that I wasn’t there, he went back to re-stocking shelves.
To make sure Suegra wasn’t just making up stories, I asked my older son and he said that’s exactly what happened.
So anyway, yesterday was Valentine’s Day and I received a package in the mail covered in hearts. The boys hoping there was something for them inside despite my name being on it, watched me open it. I pulled out a 24 pack box of Bubu Lubus.
My youngest son looked at the Bubu Lubus and the hearts all over the envelope and jumped to conclusions.
“Woah!” he said, “Are those from Clementino?”
I assured him they weren’t. Silly cipote. Then Carlos came home and seeing the box of Bubu Lubus and heart patterned envelope raised an eyebrow.
“Who are those from?” he asked.
“My friend, Amanda!”
“….Hm….are you sure?”
I showed him the shipping address as proof. Obviously, Carlos is still thinking about the Clementino situation too.
Read: Clementino Parts 4, 5, 6
La Familia López received a surprise this Navidad that did not quite fit in a box under the tree. After considering that maybe the extra roundness in my belly may not in fact be due to eating too many cookies, I realized what it must mean. So, Christmas Day I managed to find a gas station that carried the test that I sought. I couldn’t wait to get home, and didn’t want to alarm Carlos, so I took it there in the gas station bathroom. The result? …Two lines. Do you know what two lines means? Ay Dios mio.
…Okay, I can’t do this. I can’t go any further. Jajajajaja!
¡Feliz Día de Los Inocentes!
(“Innocents Day” is like April Fool’s Day in Latin America and is celebrated on December 28th. It is a day to play tricks on people… This blog post is a joke! Te juro – I am NOT knocked up.)
Mañana es Navidad, pero hoy es “Spanish Friday.”
No tengo grandes planes para la Navidad, y gracias a la ecónomia, no ha comprado muchos regalos para los niños. Por lo mejor. Tal vez ellos pueden crecer más agradecidos que la mayoria de niños en Los Estados Unidos.
Yo recibí jugetes al montón cuando era niña. Habia una Navidad bien recuerdo que mis hermanas y yo recibimos jugetes para fregar, y cuando fuimos a la casa de mis abuelos maternos, recibimos tantos regalos más que tuvimos que hacer dos vueltas en el carro para llevarlas a casa. (Esto encima de regalos recibidos por correo de otra familia.)
Pero Carlos estaba al otro extremo. Me contaba que habia años cuando él recibido un par de zapatos y nada más. Lo peor es que nunca quedaban bien. Siempre los padres los compraron grandes para que duren más tiempo y parecía más a lanchas que un par de zapatos.
Hay que buscar un equilibrio, y creo que nuestros hijos están creciendo en buenas condiciones. No son pobres-pobres, que sienten que están sufriendo, pero no son ricos-ricos que tienen la expectacion que la vida es fácil. Creo que está bien.
Lo más importante es que estamos juntos. La alegría derivada de todos los jugetes del mundo se queda corta al lado de la felicidad uno se siente de estar amado entre familia.
Last night I went out and bought all the things I need to make tamales. Carlos has gone to work, and the niños to school. The house is quiet and empty, unlike a traditional tamalada.
I mentioned in my last post, Galletada, how I don’t have family to make tamales with. Some of you recommended inviting friends, regardless of whether they’re Latina or not. I think that idea is bien chévere. The only problem? My friends are spread across the world.
So, here is what I’m going to do – I’m going to “live blog” my tamal making with you! You’re all invited to my tamalada. Visit throughout the day as I update. Chat with me here in comments, or over on Twitter!
8:20 am – I boiled the chicken last night so it would be ready. I’m going to go shred that first.
9:35 am – The chicken is nicely shredded. Unlike Suegra, I didn’t include bones in my mixture. Chomping into a hueso while trying to eat a tamal, I find very disconcerting.
What do you think of my apron? Do I look like I’m ready to make tamales or sell them at the mercado? ;)
10:36 am – The filling mixture is almost finished. I’m tasting it with Hoja Santa to see if I like it. I heard that Hoja Santa is used for tamales in regions of México and that it gives a distinct flavor. It smells like root beer or licorice. Qué rico! …
While researching the herb, I found out some interesting things. First, the FDA isn’t a fan of Hoja Santa because it was found to be carcinogenic in animals. Carlos thinks I’m loca for trying it just based on that, but cigarettes are carcinogenic to HUMANS and yet the FDA doesn’t have a problem with them, so I put my faith in the Mexican people on this one. They’ve been using this herb since the times of the Mayans and Aztecs, and they have less incidence of cancer than those of us in the U.S.
The story behind its name – Hoja Santa, (Holy Leaf), is that the Virgin Mary used to dry the diapers of baby Jesus on the wide leaves of the Hoja Santa plant. (Providing a place for them to dry, as well as leaving a nice scent.) … Qué cute, right?
Okay – going to upload a video for those who are asking!
12:36 pm – Getting tired and I haven’t even assembled the things! … I finished the filling quite awhile ago, (video below!), and just now I finished making the masa. This is the first year I used manteca (lard) in the masa. The idea gave me the heebie jeebies but I tried tamales last year which I liked, which had algocito that my tamales didn’t have – and I couldn’t put my finger on it. Well, it was manteca, of course. I had Carlos call his co-worker, Armando, last night – to ask what his wife put in her tamales. Te juro, I tasted queso in the masa, but they insist that it’s just manteca.
So, anyway, I made the masa with manteca and the smell made me a little queasy. The masa is resting and so am I for a few minutes, but I really need to get a move on. The day is half over!
Here is the video of me making the filling earlier:
2:26 pm – All the tamales have been made and are on the stove. Very tired and ate so much of the filling que no tengo ganas de comer tamales. Bleh. Ojalá, Carlos and the boys will like them.
I’ve posted my recipe in comments before, but I will post my recipe here according to how I made them this year.
Latina-ish Tamales Recipe
What you need:
Dry corn husks
MASECA (instant corn masa flour for tortillas)
1 whole chicken – boiled, (remove skin and bones and shred into small pieces)
Chicken broth – (use the broth from the chicken you cooked. Seems to be more flavorful than canned/boxed broth.)
1 can chick peas/garbanzo beans
1 medium onion (minced if you have the patience, otherwise, chopped is okay)
3 tablespoons fresh minced garlic
2 cans of uncut green beans
2 cans of diced potatoes
1 can of chiles in adobo sauce
achiote molido (annatto powder)
achiote entero (whole annatto)
1 cup of lard
1/2 cup cooking oil
1. The filling: In a large pan, heat a few tablespoons of cooking oil. Add 1 tablespoon of achiote entero. Cook briefly until oil turns orange-red. Remove from heat. Remove the achiote with a spoon and discard so that all that is left in the pan is the oil. If you don’t have achiote entero, just heat some regular oil.
2. Put the pan back on the medium heat, saute onion and garlic until tender. Remove from heat. Add the drained cans of potatoes, chick peas and green beans as well as the chicken. Combine. Add salt, adobo sauce from the can of “chiles en adobo”, and hoja santa to taste.
3. For the masa, I used this recipe. Only changes – I added a tablespoon of achiote molido along with the salt to the dry MASECA. Then, after completing the recipe, I added a 1/2 cup of cooking oil.
4. Fill a big bowl with hot water in your sink. Submerge the corn husks in the water to soften.
5. Rip off 40 squares of aluminum foil, (about 1 foot by 1 foot each.) … This will be used to secure the tamales while cooking if you have trouble folding them securely closed. (Some people tie them closed. Look up methods online, but I’m telling you, foil makes it way easier.)
6. If you don’t have a large steamer pot, you will need to loosely crumple foil balls enough to cover the bottom of your largest pot with a tight fitting lid, (or an upside down metal pie plate works.) Once the bottom of the pot is covered in foil balls, fill it with water – BUT the water should not be higher than the foil balls. The foil balls keep the water off the tamales since the tamales are not boiled – they are steamed. If you have a steamer pot and know how to use it, all the better!
7. Now for assembly. Take a corn husk from the water, making sure it isn’t too small or ripped, and shake it dry a bit. Put it on a square of foil. Spread a big spoonful of masa (dough), onto the husk in the middle, spreading it out in a sort of rectangle shape, but don’t go too close to the edges. (There are tamal tutorials online, so look around for them. Video would be the best way to learn this.)
On top of the masa, place a spoonful of the chicken mixture.
Now fold the corn husk closed, (again, hard to explain, so look online for a tutorial if you don’t know how.) … Then I take the extra step of enclosing each one in foil so they don’t open up.
Repeat this until you run out of either corn husks, masa, mixture, or energy — This made about 40 tamales when I ran out of masa, but I had enough filling mixture for at least 2 dozen more.
Stack them all in your steamer pot on medium to low heat with the lid closed. They take between one and two hours to cook. Check once in awhile, (though not too often as you’ll lose your steam), to make sure there’s enough water in there – if not, add a little.
To be sure the tamal is done – best to take one out, unwrap the foil, and let it cool for a little bit to give the masa a chance to become the right texture. Then you can unwrap the corn husk and check to see if the masa is properly cooked, (it shouldn’t be too mushy – it should be firm…difficult to explain exactly. I know you’ve eaten tamales so just judge the doneness based on personal experience of what it should look/feel/taste like when cooked.)
5:46 pm – Tamales were taken out of the pots over an hour ago and have cooled. Carlos loves how they turned out. Now for a nap. Thanks to all of you who chatted with me here in comments and on Twitter! This one is for you…
This has always been one of my favorite paintings by one of my favorite artists. “Tamalda” by Carmen Lomas Garza depicts the Latina tradición Navideña of tamal-making as a family.
Every year as I make tamales by myself, I think wistfully what it would be like to be surrounded by generations of women, each of us with our own task, but sharing laughter and conversation, working together to make tamales and memories.
Growing up in an Anglo household means my grandmothers, my mother, aunts and sisters do not know how to make tamales. This is not a family tradition from my side of the family that I am continuing, rather it is one that I’m trying to start for my own children – although they are boys. Maybe I will teach their wives, or their daughters some day – but when they think of Navidad, I want them to close their eyes and taste tamales – I want them to have that connection to their roots.
I’ve been asked why I don’t making tamales with my Suegra, which is logical since Suegra has certainly participated in many “tamaldas” with her sisters – but she goes back to El Salvador each year for the winter, so it isn’t something I share with her and it’s not something I learned from her. Our recipes are very different; Suegra favors the green banana leaves for wrapping her mild-flavored tamales, and I prefer corn husks to wrap my spicy tamales. Like many things between us, making tamales together probably wouldn’t work out.
I’m not as saddened about making tamales by myself anymore though, because this past weekend, my mother, sisters and nephew came to my house for our annual cookie-baking. As I watched my mother alternate between rolling out the dough and moving galletas in and out of the oven, while my sisters and the boys sat around the table decorating the trays of cut out sugar cookies she provided, I remembered the Carmen Lomas Garza painting.
Maybe an annual “tamalada” is not possible, but our “galletada” is close enough.
If you’re looking for me, I’m over on TikiTikiBlog.com today, telling the story of our 1st Navidad as a married couple, and the unexpected gift Carlos bought for me.
Today our church celebrates Día de la Virgen de Guadalupe, but the forecast is calling for freezing rain so it may be postponed or canceled since the Spanish-speaking priest comes in from out of the city. I’ll be disappointed if we don’t attend the service, because it’s the one I look most forward to each year.
Raised Protestant, the Catholic relationship with the Virgin Mary was something that I had difficulty understanding at first. Protestants do not adore her the way Catholics do. I also found it confusing that there seemed to be a lot of Virgins in the Catholic faith. There is the Virgin Mary, the Virgin of Guadalupe, Our Lady of Lourdes, the Blessed Virgin, etc. I later learned that these are not different virgins – they are all the same Virgin Mary, (mother of Jesus). Some of the names are just describing her attributes, (such as Our Lady of Peace), and others are for locations where she appeared to people.
Years ago, during the course of writing one of my manuscripts, I needed to do research on the Catholic faith. While researching, I discovered the Virgin of Guadalupe, and fell in love. There is something about the Virgin of Guadalupe that intrigues me more than I can really put into words.
Mexican writer Carlos Fuentes once said, “…one may no longer consider himself a Christian, but you cannot truly be considered a Mexican unless you believe in the Virgin of Guadalupe.” And Nobel Literature laureate, Octavio Paz, wrote, “The Mexican people, after more than two centuries of experiments, have faith only in the Virgin of Guadalupe and the National Lottery.”
If you don’t know the story of the Virgin of Guadalupe, allow me to share it with you.
There once was an indigenous Mexican man named Juan Diego. (His birth name was Cuauhtlatoatzin, but Juan Diego was the name he took when Spanish bishops converted him to Christianity.)
Juan Diego was a widower who walked every Saturday and Sunday to church. When it was cold out he wore a cloak-like covering called a “tilma”, a common type of clothing for the people of his tribe. On one particular Saturday morning (December 9, 1531), on his way to church, Juan Diego claimed to have seen a vision of the Virgin.
As he passed the hill at Tepeyac just outside of Mexico City he heard music and saw a light. A woman’s voice called him by name from the top of the hill, so he climbed up to see. Near the top he saw a beautiful young dark skinned woman dressed like an Aztec princess. She spoke to him in his native language (Nahuatl) and told Juan that she was the Virgin Mary.
The Virgin instructed Juan Diego to seek permission for a church to be built on that site and in return she would always care for the people there. Juan Diego did as he was told but the bishop asked for a sign to verify that what Juan Diego claimed had really happened.
Juan Diego returned to the hill and told the Virgin what the bishop had said. The Virgin then directed Juan Diego to go further up the hill and there he would find roses. He was instructed to gather the roses into his tilma. Juan Diego did as the Virgin instructed. (Remember it is winter time and roses would not have been blooming.) The Virgin then told Juan Diego to bring the roses to the bishop.
Not only was the bishop surprised by the roses because they were not in season but these particular roses were also not native to Mexico. These roses were native to his homeland (Spain). And then as Juan Diego emptied the roses from his tilma, it revealed an amazing image of the Virgin.
Juan Diego’s tilma with the image still exists today. It is on display at the Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico City. This is considered yet another miracle because Juan Diego’s tilma is made from the coarse fibers of the maguey cactus. A fabric of this type should have deteriorated after 20 years. (It has been in good condition for almost 500 years and examined by many scientists who can find no explanation.)
For those who take a more cynical view, there are theories that the Catholic church made all this up just to convert the native peoples of Mexico.
Today, many of those faithful to the Virgin of Guadalupe pray to her and ask miracles. Many claim she has healed them or loved ones from incurable illnesses. Some make promises to the Virgin in return for answered prayer. On the day of celebration for the Virgin of Guadalupe, some will walk on their knees, (some for miles), to her altar in gratitude and devotion.
Our church usually assembles in the street with mariachi at sunrise to sing “Las Mañanitas” to La Virgen. After misa, there is a procession and a traditional desayuno of pozole, tamales and champurrado.
I hope we will be able to go, but here are photos from last year.