Wednesday, November 30, 2011

La vuelta al mundo: Diptychs

It is that time of the month. When all over the World people on the photographic challenge started by Jackie Rueda show their photos for the group "La vuelta al Mundo". This time, for us, it was indeed a true challenge because we had to make diptychs and we had no idea how. Good for me the boy likes to learn and is into photo editing, so I take the pictures and he does the backstage work. Be sure to check the group's pool in Flickr, because there are some awesome, crazy-talented photographers out there.You should also go back to Casi en Serio where Jackie will link to everyone participating in this worldwide photographic chain.  And because you can't wait anymore here is what we came up with (click on the images to enlarge):

This final one was not uploaded to the group because we are not the authors of the photographs, however consider it a bonus track. It is my mom, in Puerto Vallarta (Mexico) circa 2009 and my mother in law in Surinam, circa 1981. Funny huh?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Crazy dutch weather.

Yesterday the sky was as blue as ever so we decided to take the bikes and go to the center. Please notice that it takes us only about 15 minutes to get there. So, there we were, riding our bicycles. Suddenly a very strong wind started going against us, to the point that I got off the bike and walked a bit because I didn't really feel like tolerating it. Then, just like that it stopped.
 Shortly after a little rain started, but with tiny drops. It actually felt nice, like a fresh breeze. As I was saying it, the raindrops got bigger and bigger and the wind came back and it started storming with all the force of Thor. We had to seek shelter under the first roof we found and wait, and wait and wait. Thing is, in Holland you never know if the rain will last 10 minutes or 4 hours. So we let the storm calm down a bit and decided to go again, while it was still pouring. When we arrived at the center we were completely soaked. It looked like we had jumped fully clothed in a swimming pool. And I dare to say, we looked quite stupid as everyone else was perfectly dry because it all lasted less than 12 minutes. Ohhhh.
 At least we gave ourselves proper rewards.We went to an authentic austrian bakery, founded in 1934. It turns out  back in the day, a few years after it opened they were one of the first cafés in all the North of Europe to have an Espresso machine. But, the best part is their apple strudel. Crispy outside and soft, but not mushy inside. I also tried the apricot strudel and it was not bad either. So if you ever find yourself in Den Haag and feel like some classic austrian treats, stop by "Wiener Konditorei" (Korte Poten 24, Den Haag).

Friday, November 25, 2011

Mexicans in the world.

Yesterday, before catching my train home I was hanging out at the main kiosk at the station. I love that place because they have all kinds of international press. This time, the November edition of  "Le Monde, Dossiers & Documents"* (from 'Le Monde Diplomatique') caught my attention because it featured a collection of articles dealing with Immigration. As I was going through it, this graph and the article** that it came from shocked me.

Did you know that Mexico is the country that provides, in absolute number, the most immigrants to the World, with 10 million immigrants? We are the country with the most immigrants out there. Wow. If you consider this number in percentage of the total population, then small countries are leading the way: Cape Verde for example counts 1 emigrated citizen for every 2 living in the country.

As a curiosity, in 2000 the UK had an almost equal amount of immigrants (4.9 million) than emigrants (4.2 millions). Oh and, not surprisingly, France is the country from where people emigrate the least. (Of course if I was living in France I probably would not want to leave either, oh la belle France.) When I worked at a call-center, I experienced this on the first-hand. I was working in the french line (along with the Spanish and English lines) and it was always very difficult to get new french speakers (not the case with Italian, Greek or Spanish).

The article also mentions that while there is all that talk about South-North migrations (accounting for 62 million of the total amount of immigrants), when you actually compare the data on global migratory movements you see that both South-South migrations (61 million) and North-North migrations (53 millions) account for more or less the same number. It is only North-South migrations (14 million) that are sensibly lower in absolute number. Funny enough, in that sense both my dad (who migrated to Mexico from Switzerland some 32 years ago) and the boy's dad are singular cases.

But I digress. Today I wanted to talk to you about Mexicans making it in the world. And about the food. Because inevitably, whenever two Mexicans meet while abroad, 15 minutes into the conversation they will start talking about the food. Oh how we miss it. While  losing my time experiencing the internet through the blogosphere I have been lucky enough to stumble upon other Mexicans abroad and it always makes me happy and curious to get a glimpse on how they are experiencing their lives as foreigners alien residents.

-There is Andy Torres, from Style Scrapbook who really has gone far. She is a Mexican girl who came to Holland 4 years ago and as soon as she arrived applied to every possible job in the fashion media industry. And surprise, she stumbled upon the wall that we all stumble upon when trying to deal with this lovely country of the tulips and the windmills, namely: "If you don't speak dutch, we are not going to be able to take you". (Regardless of whether the actual job description actually requires said dutch skills). So she figured out her own way to infiltrate her field, by starting a blog with her own content, styling her looks, making sure she had great photographs,  and working hard. And now she travels all the time, she has made it to the Vogue fashion encyclopaedia, is the new It girl for Mango this season and has designed a camera bag for Kipling.

-Then there is Fany Gerson, in New York, who is a chef, opened her own mexican ice-cream shop, La Newyorkina (as her own version of the mexican famous "La Michoacana")  and has so far written two books, "My sweet Mexico", and "Paletas", for which she did an extensive research travel around our lovely country and then interpreted the recipes to make beautifully photographed books.

-There is also the wise Zarawitta, who is in Spain working on her PhD on international migrations and who writes about her discoveries in Madrid, new recipes, books, film, culture and the experience of living abroad.

-Thanks to Marcela (by the way, check out the pretty new design on her already super interesting travel blog) I found out about the series "Coming home / Expedición al país natal" by Deutsche Welle that follows expats from different countries, living in Germany and telling stories about their experiences along all those years spent away from their homeland. Among them, there is Jorge Sanchez, who is now also quite known in the local (Hamburg) nightlife, doing what he always wanted, be a DJ, where he is best known as DJ SternSanchez. What he (and the other immigrants interviewed in this series) have to say about going back home after living abroad for quite some years is very interesting.

-The lovely Zan, half Mexican, medical anthropologist, is doing her PhD in New York and lives in a farm (can you feel the jealousy here?) She is just generally very funny and smart all at the same time. You are already reading her right?

-And let's not forget Kamel Perez, a Mexican boy in San Francisco, who takes beautiful photographs and works in the video-game industry. From the stories we hear from the lovely Lauren, I believe he is also lots of fun and a great, nice guy.

So as for the food. I am here to report that we finally found a small Asian / international supermarket in Amsterdam that stores all kinds of Mexican delicacies, among which authentic Mole Poblano in a jar (more on that coming to you soon). They also have real Mexican Maseca (ready-to-use corn flour from which you can make your own homemade tortillas) and all kinds of sauces, beans, ate de membrillo and so forth.

 The place is called Tjin's and they are located in the South of Amsterdam (1e van der Helstraat 64). Oh when we found the place I wanted to kiss and hug someone, all these things I'm going to make.

 If you prefer to go to a restaurant, in Amsterdam I can strongly recommend "Los Pilones" (if you are at work, watch it, the website comes with loud Mexican music). It is 100 % the real deal, owned by a Mexican who wants to promote the true Mexican cuisine. In my experience abroad I have to say that it is very easy to find fake Mexican food, also called Tex-Mex which is a genre on its own, but has very little to do with Mexico. We do not eat chilli-con-carne in my country. And hard taco-shells are unknown over there. We have something similar, tostadas, but those are flat. They have two locations in Amsterdam (Kerkstraat 63, near the Leidsestraat and 1e Anjeliersdwarsstraat 6 in the Jordaan).

If you are in Spain, then you should go to "Andele", with several locations in Barcelona (Cinesa Diagonal, L'Illa commercial center, Arenas de Barcelona, across Plaça Espanya in the ancient Plaza de Toros ) and recently I see from their website that they are also in Madrid (Heron Diversia). When I lived in Barcelona we used to go to the one in Cinesa Diagonal, which has a nice Terrace. You can also get your supplies there, for instance authentic syrup for Agua de Horchata, Mexican Chocolate, Cajeta, Dried Chilies and tamales.

Finally for those elsewhere in Europe who need some authentic ingredients there is Mexworld an online shop (casually also based in the Netherlands) that ships all over.

And for everyone out there,  if you want a Mexican cook book that is both easy to follow and authentic, I suggest  "Mexican food made simple". I love to give it to the curious and to those who love to cook as a present. It is beautiful to look at and has all kinds of explanations on the origin of the recipes and the traditions around every dish.

*Le Monde Dossiers & Documents - N° 413 Novembre 2011 : Immigration  = Intégration. Egalité rêvée,égalité diabolisée
**Les Etats-Unis restent le premier pays d'immigration au monde. Brigitte Perucca. First published on the 25 of November 2010. You can find the full text here.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Oh lovely bookshelf, finally.

 Ever since I first saw this bookshelf I knew it was going to be part of our home. Even if by now it is a classic and everybody has it, I love it all the same. And finally, we have it at home. It was a struggle to make it fit in our little car, but we made it.
 Then the time came to get the boxes I brought with me from Barcelona and that had since been gathering dust first in the attic and then in the garage and open them. It felt a little like Christmas. Well, not really. But wow, I studied a lot.
 As I was taking out my notes and books and filing them into colorful new binders I was shocked at the amount of information I had to learn and memorize.
Then I stumbled into these and remembered thinking that anatomy would be the hardest subject ever.
 But no... even as a girl who always loved chemistry, when I think what was the hardest exam I had to pass the first that comes to mind is Pharmacology, and close behind Surgery and Radiology.
Oh but look at this, aren't you in love with cubic shelves? I know some of you are.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Agua de limón molido (Fresh lemon water)

I am about to give you one of the best kept secrets of my mom's kitchen, that is, the recipe for the best ever "agua de limón". As some of you may know, a very typical treat in Mexico are "aguas frescas", cold beverages often made of juice, water, fresh fruit, sugar and lots of ice. You can  buy them from street stalls, but they are also an everyday drink in almost every household. Flavors can be as varied as there are fruits: mango, guayaba, orange, lemon, melon, watermelon, tamarind, and the classical jamaica (hibiscus) and horchata (made of roasted rice and cinammon).
But if I dare to say, agua de limón (lemon water),  would be the queen of them all, and the most classic.  The recipe I'm about to share with you has a twist, that makes it full of flavor. All you need is a blender, 2 or 3 lemons, sugar, ice and water. And it goes like this: take the lemons, wash them, cut them in half, or in 4, and throw them in the blender with just a little bit of water.
Next, pass this mix IMMEDIATELY through a colander. This is the key step. In order for your "agua de limón" not to turn bitter, you need to :
a). not allow the blender to mix the lemons in the water for too long. About 4 seconds should be enough, just until the pulp is crushed and
b). do not let it sit, but filter it immediately into the jar that you will be using.
 Finally add sugar as desired, fill the jar with water, add ice, mix and enjoy. If you like, you can prepare it beforehand and keep in the fridge, since it is better enjoyed ice-cold. And there you go, instant taste of Mexico in less than 15 minutes. If you want more,there is this book that drew my attention by its title: "Paletas: Authentic Recipes for Mexican Ice Pops,shaved Ice & Aguas Frescas", by Fany Gerson. And how could I not fall for it when it starts like this:  

"The first frozen treats in Mexico were made with snow collected at the top of the Popocatépetl and Iztaccíhuatl volcanoes. At first the snow was carried down and used to refrigerate things like medicine and food, but later people realized they could pair the snow with sweet fruits to make luxurious frozen treats. "

Friday, November 18, 2011


really is in the small things. Macarons in a box. Walking through the city with the boy on a sunny day. Crisp blue morning skies. Looking for wedding-y stuff for my little sister.* Japanese-inspired-flower-print dresses and lacy tights. 
 *Aren't these flats cute? Little sis is such a practical girl that no matter how pretty heels might be she won't be wearing them on her wedding day, amen to that.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

So, Antwerp.

Such a nice city. Let me think. When we went there for the bookclub it must have been our fifth time there. Belgium, being so close, still has the feel of a different country in such a way that it satisfies, if only temporarily, our vacation cravings.
The zoo there is totally worth it. Imagine walking through a park from the beginning of the century and spotting animals here and there. But the best part is that the animals actually seem happy, which, sadly, is an unusual sight in a zoo. Then of course you have the cathedral and old center, and the diamond district which is quite particular.
And then there is this "trendy" neighborhood, full of cafes and little independent shops of all kinds (antiquaries, designers, ateliers). We spent the day walking and I found earrings for my sister. Sure my mom asked me to look for diamonds, but I'm quite certain I can not really afford those for now. Instead, we accidentally found an independent artist / jeweller that had lovely designs. And I found her these earrings:
made of prasiolith, also known as vermarine,  a stone of a very light green hue and mother of pearl. They are made by Eva Crauwels for her brand Mia & Moi. (You can find her in Kloosterstraat 185).
We also stumbled upon the perfect shoe shop, Nöe pumps. As in, they have shoes in every color of the rainbow. Seriously, every single shade is there. They are made of soft material, and available in 3 types of heel. So whenever you need to match an exact shade, you know where to go.  (Nöe by Your, Kloosterstraat 84)
 And we found spiderman, and graffitis, and more parks, oh lovely autumn. 
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...