Fiesta DC 2012

Taking photos at Fiesta DC this past Sunday was a challenge for a number of reasons, but one of those reasons was the sheer number of other people trying to photograph and video tape the event. At times I felt like I was in a group of paparazzi fighting for position – and then when I would finally frame the perfect shot, someone would inevitably ruin it by running across with a video camera or sticking their iPhone in front of me.

Some of the people were amateur or hobbyist photographers like me, some were obviously freelance professionals or working for media – And then there were young males, usually equipped with cellphone cameras, who were just trying to photograph the nalgas of the cachiporras to share on their Facebook.

Anyway, here are my favorite shots which I had some fun editing and a video of the general atmosphere.

By the way, speaking of nalgas, at one point during the parade a woman with a very generous backside stood in front of us. Carlos, to his credit, didn’t even seem to notice despite the fact that her “pants” were actually leggings and you could see her thong through the fabric.

“¡Qué bárbara!” a little old man said. The old man, not content to enjoy the view by himself and feeling the need to share, elbowed Carlos. Jutting his chin towards the woman in front of them he said, with a lascivious expression on his face, “Ella es Santa Bárbara, ¿vá?”

Carlos looked confused, “Oh, ¿sí?” he replied.
“Ssssíííííí,” the viejo hissed appraising the woman’s behind, practically licking his lips. Noting the fact that Carlos didn’t understand what he meant, the viejo then asked, “¿No sabes?”

“¿No?” Carlos said, the question on his face.

I rolled my eyes at the predictable dirty old man.

“¡Es santa por delante y bárbara por atrás!” the viejo said, erupting in laughter as if he had said the most clever and original thing in the world.

Carlos laughed politely and I pinched him.

“What?” Carlos said.
“Stand back here, away from the viejo chuco,” I said.

After the parade we had lunch. I wanted pupusas but Carlos made a good point that we eat pupusas all the time and that we should eat something different, so we ended up buying delicious Mexican tortas. (The boys and I had the torta milanesa de pollo with horchata. Carlos had the torta de carnitas with agua fresca de tamarindo.)

Just as we finished eating and were deciding what to do next, I heard “Los Hermanos Lovo” announced on a nearby stage.

“No way!” I said out loud, “Hermanos Lovo!”

Carlos looked at me like I had lost my mind as I pulled his hand in the direction of the stage.

“It’s the Chanchona music I blogged about. Remember?… Hermanos Lovo!”

For three songs I tapped my hand against my side, tapped my feet, and moved my hips, waiting for people to dance, but only a few people were dancing, and they were getting stared at. Everyone else just pretty much stood there and watched the performance. I found this a little strange given that at most Latino dominant events I’ve been too, there’s usually not a lack of dancing. I wonder if most of the people there have become too Americanized in this respect? Too self-conscious?

I couldn’t take it anymore. I leaned toward Carlos and he leaned toward me so he could hear me.

“Want to dance?” I asked, eyes brimming with hope like a child asking for a puppy.

Carlos said nothing, just turned toward me and took me in his arms, and we danced.

Within seconds much of the crowd had turned to look at us and stood gaping. Carlos whispered in my ear, “We’re being photographed and video taped.” I felt a flood of gringa self-consciousness wash through me but we kept dancing, and soon, the people around us, were just a blur of colors.

Stories from el Corazón

On SpanglishBaby I talked about a non-profit organization called Story Corps which records people’s true stories to create a sort of archive of American history for future generations. Some of these stories have been animated, and I shared a really hilarious yet heartwarming video from the Story Corps collection called Facundo the Great – (go check it out on SpanglishBaby!)

While I clicked around on the Story Corps website, I found several other animated stories I loved just as much as Facundo the Great. Here are two more, and if you love them mucho, check out Story Corps for más.

PBS Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month

PBS is celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15th to October 15th with some programming you might want to go mark on your calendar!

Title: EL VELADOR (The Night Watchman)
Date: September 27th 2012 / 10:00-11:00 PM ET
Description: “Stand guard with Martin, who watches over the extravagant mausoleums of notorious Mexican drug lords.”


Date: July 27th 2012 / 9:00-10:00 PM ET
Description: “Tap your toes to the beat of this music documentary, which vibrates with the soul and energy of African-Cuban drummers, guajira guitarists and the pulsing melodies of celebrated Cuban musician Raul Paz, who brings together fellow musical stars Descemer Bueno, Kelvis Ochoa and David Torrens for a concert in Havana…”


Title: BIBLIOBURRO: The Donkey Library
Date: Check local listings
Description: “A decade ago, Colombian grade-school teacher Luis Soriano was inspired to spend his weekends bringing a modest collection of precious books, via two hard-working donkeys, to the children of Magdalena Province’s poor and violence-ridden interior. As Soriano braves armed bands, drug traffickers, snakes and heat, his library on hooves carries an inspirational message about education and a better future for Colombia.”


Date: September 28th 2012 / 10:00-11:00 PM ET
Description: “…the fascinating, mysterious world of lucha libre and its role in Latino communities in the United States, Mexico and Latin America…”


Other programming to check your local listings for:

Description: “Witness the efforts of villagers to confront anti-immigrant bias and repair the fabric of community life.”

Description: “Spend a year in the life of the champion mariachi ensemble at Zapata High School in South Texas.”

And more!

Mexican Sushi & Other Fusion Foods

I love fusion cuisine – the mixing of the best parts of two different cultures on one plate. It takes a lot of creativity to come up with something that works.

A month or so ago, I came upon this photo of the “Blaxican Food Truck” (Mexican & Soul Food) and this conversation on Reddit.

Image source: Reddit user J_Keezey

There was talk of jalapeño mac-and-cheese, BBQ steak tacos (sounds as crazy as my Fried Chicken & Mashed Potato Tacos!), and collard green quesadillas.

When I saw yesterday that CNN had interviewed the owner of the truck, it reminded me that I wanted to write about this here.

(Here’s CNN’s interview)

However, there are all kinds of Latin American fusion foods to explore.

Taka Taka in New York features Mexican Sushi and Japanese Tacos. On the menu? Cilantro shrimp tempura; Fried rice roll with hamachi, tuna, avocado and jicama with spicy sriracha mayonnaise; and Fried tuna carnitas in a yuzu-soy marinate with guacamole and pico de gallo in corn tortillas.

Chino Bandido in Phoenix allows you to mix various Chinese and Mexican ingredients. Chico & Chang in Atlanta also serves Chinese and Mexican food but they don’t seem to be mixed based on the menu which lists the cuisines separately.

And then most everyone knows about Kogi BBQ which were all anyone talked about a few years ago when people discovered their Korean-style tacos.

I think the most delicious out of all of these is Mexican Sushi. The combination seems like it was inevitable. Carlos and I love sushi and our two favorite local sushi chefs are both Mexican. In fact, Latinos work behind the scenes at all our favorite Asian restaurants – Chinese, Japanese, Korean.

In comments here on Latinaish, I once mentioned that many of the Latino employees at our favorite Korean market speak Korean.

…We have a Korean Market on the outskirts of D.C. where I make regular visits. (I love Korean food and got Carlos hooked on it too.)… Well, almost all the people that work there are Latino. It’s hilarious because one time at the fish counter Suegra told me what she wanted, I turned to the fish counter manager who was Korean. I greeted him in Korean and then told him Suegra’s order in English. He turned to the guys behind him and told them the order in Spanish. I was like, “Wait a minute! Suegra should have just ordered herself?!” …Also, I’ve heard some of the Latinos there respond to the manager in Korean. It’s pretty cool!

I actually read a story about this Honduran guy who came to the U.S. and began working in a Vietnamese restaurant. He started out washing dishes and ended up learning Vietnamese and working as head chef. [Read more here.] Chévere, right?

As for the Mexican Sushi, unfortunately, I’m a little too far from New York to just pop in at Taka Taka for lunch … pero hay esperanza! Our friends at Tiki Tiki posted a video to their Facebook page that teaches you how to make “Sushi Mexicano.” (I recommend giving Tiki Tiki a “Like” – they’re always sharing fascinating and hilarious content.)

Here’s the video by the very amusing “El Guzii“!

This looks like a lot of work but these fusion restaurants seem to be only in major cities, so it’s a good option if you want to try it. Then again, I found this restaurant in our area.

Felicio’s authentic Mexican and Italian food. The nice thing about this one is that the Italian and Mexican flags have the same colors so I’d assume there was no arguing over the logo or the decor. I actually haven’t eaten here yet, (Carlos has refused), but I think that this isn’t actually true fusion and that the menu items are separate.

What fusion restaurants have you seen?

Comedy + Undocumented Immigration: Do they mix?

Scene from film short, La Línea

When I received an E-mail from a man named Evan about a film described as “An indie feature comedy about undocumented immigration” – I was intrigued but also wary. “How can undocumented immigration be funny?” I asked myself.

I continued to read Evan’s E-mail, giving him the benefit of the doubt and followed the link he gave me to a Kickstarter campaign where I could find out more. (Kickstarter is a website where one is able to raise funds for projects.) The project, Sun Belt Express, is a film he wants to produce – and, well, I’ll let him tell you about it.

Even after viewing this video and sensing real sincerity from this guy, I was still a little skeptical. Mixing comedy with such a sensitive topic wouldn’t be easy, and if done without care, could do a lot of harm. I didn’t want to endorse something I wasn’t totally certain about so I asked if I could see the full length version of the film short, La Línea, to get a sense of what he’s up to. After watching it, I was sold. I can see why La Línea received the recognition that it did at film festivals and I can’t wait to see more from Evan and his team. What they’re working on is something special – something that deserves to be made.

The more I think about it, what could be more representative of Latinos than the ability to find humor in even the most difficult of situations? It’s one of the things I identify with and admire most about the culture.

I started to think about Carlos’s journey to the United States and some of the stories he’s told me – and yes, there are some funny ones – Maybe I’ll share them here one day, but for now, if you want to know more about Sun Belt Express, click over to their Kickstarter campaign, support them with a donation, and spread the word so they can get funded before the fast approaching deadline.

The Tiger Colcha

I discovered the two thick blankets neatly folded on our sofa after Carlos’s sister had visited.

“Your sister forgot her blankets,” I told Carlos.

“No,” he said, “She gave those to us.”

“But we don’t need blankets,” I said, unfolding them to look at the design. I couldn’t hide my horror as the image of two large tigers appeared before me.

Carlos couldn’t understand why I found the blankets distasteful.

“They’re… tacky,” I whispered, unfolding the other blanket to discover some other kind of cat – jaguars or cougars, I’m not sure.

“Just put them in the closet, okay?” Carlos said, and I did, vowing never to use them or let anyone see them.

And then one day I decided to wash our bed linens but forgot about our comforter in the washing machine until it was bedtime. I threw it in the dryer, determined to wait for it, but I was so tired.

“Just use the tiger colcha,” Carlos said. I reluctantly pulled it from the closet and spread it out on our bed, happy to turn off the lights so at least I didn’t have to look at it. That night we slept so well under the warm, comfortable weight of that tiger blanket that when I folded it up and put it back in the closet I secretly didn’t loathe it so much anymore.

Fast forward to a few days ago and I come upon this article in the LA Times called San Marcos blankets are objects of affection among Latinos. I had no idea this was a “thing” – or at least I had failed to observe it. Once I read the article though I started thinking back on all the friends and family we’ve visited over the years and all the tacky colchas I’ve seen on people’s beds and sofas.

So, confession time, gente. Are you hiding a similar colcha in your closet?


Hilarious related link: Hispanic teen suffocates under four layers of San Marcos blankets (satire)

Naco? Pocho?

What is a Naco? What is a Pocho? Have you ever been called one of these words? Do you readily identify yourself as a naco or a pocho? Do you find them offensive?

Mun2 discusses these words with some famous faces including: Lalo Alcaraz, Xavier El Eléctrico, Gustavo Arellano, Penelope Menchaca, Alacranes Musical, Alex Rivera, Luis de Alba, Edoardo Chavarin, La Bronca, Larry Hernandez, 3ball MTY (pictured above), Gloria Trevi, Daniel Hernandez, Gerardo Ortiz, Los Tucanes de Tijuana, Edward James Olmos, Montez de Durango, Jenni Rivera, and Duelo.

Check out the video over on mun2!

For English version with Spanish subtitles [CLICK HERE]
For Spanish version with English subtitles: [CLICK HERE]