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.


  1. Qué interesante! Y muchas gracias por la mención!
    Esta es mi ultima semana en Argentina, asi que aun estoy un poco atontada por todas las emociones de este regreso (imaginate que hasta me he reencontrado con mis compañeros del secundario!!!). Compré la ignorancia de Kundera y me esta encantando, pero no tengo tiempo de leerlo ya que estoy exprimiendo al máximo el tiempo con mis seres queridos. En 10 dias, ya de vuelta en Chipre, te escribo con mas tiempo y actualizaré los blogs. Un abrazo enorme!

  2. Hey! Muchas gracias gracias por la mención y halagos jaja, y sobretodo porque me encantó la razón para comenzar a escribir, bueno las razones, la comida y el mapa que ahora quiero conseguir, porque mi PhD como bien dijiste, sí es en migraciones internacionales. Por supuesto que ya me he puesto en busca de los otros blogs.

    Thanks a lot for the mentions, I loved the initial idea of the post, well both of them the mexican food and the immigration special at Le Monde.

  3. Funny how food is such an important part of feeling "at home" in a foreign culture. I love trying new foods, but was also so happy to discover on moving here that there is a British food shop and a Scandinavian food shop within about ten minutes :)

  4. @ Marcela, me alegro que te haya gustado ;) y disfruta mucho los ultimos dias en Cordoba, si que es toda una impresion ver a amigos y compañeros de hace tanto tiempo . Nos estamos leyendo.

    @ Zarawitta de nada, al contrario jeje. Oye, te escribi un email, pero si quieres te mando el documento, bueno es como un mini periódico, Ah y sicomida mexicana yupi.

    @ Fiona definitely, food is like going back home, I guess because we associate it with very early memories of childhood and so on. Glad you have British and Scandinavian food shops close by :) Hope the adaptation is going well !

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  6. Oh wow :) My husband (achem.. that's weird) has just received this post in his e-mail. He'll be so happy, since one of the things he really misses in NL is actual Mexican food.

    Consider both of us intensely grateful for this post :)

  7. @ thesmittenimmigrant,
    First of all congratulations again :). It got a while for me to get used to the "husband" term hehe. I am glad this could be helpful, it really took us 2 years to find such a place.

  8. These are impressive numbers! There is also a huge percentage of portuguese people all over the world. We have 10 millions of portugueses living here and 5 millions all over the world, which is immense! Well we've been doing it since the XV century, that's how from this little country spread a language that is nowadays the sixth most spoken language around the world.

    When it comes to food we don't have that kind of problem, usually when you find a portuguese restaurant it's probably the real thing, made by portuguese people. I love mexican flavours, but it's hard to know what we are eating , not that texan mexican inspired food isn't good, it's just not mexican food, right? You know what I would love? For you to share some real recipes with us! :) Like, real chili! Your guacamole... yum! I tried many recipes and one thing I can tell, they're very different from what you get in those fake mexican restaurants.

  9. @ Ines, wow, yeah, if you compare the number of Portuguese living abroad (5 million) with the total (15 million) that means 1/3 of your fellow countrymen are abroad. Impresssive indeed.

    I will be sharing some recipes soon ;) actually I am waiting for some spices to come so that I can host a giveaway for you guys again :) I knew a small portuguese pastry shop in Barcelona and the Belem cakes were just delicious. But everything they cooked was. It was also this very cool cafe where the owners were sharing portuguese culture and holding bookclubs, talks by writers, musicians...

  10. Ahh!! This is amazing! I'm showing this to kamel when he gets home from work! :)

  11. Thanks for the mention!

    To this day every time I see a real Mexican food item in a random little store I get excited. Even though it's been years since I've lived in Mexico, the little snacks and specific ingredients still make me nostalgic whenever I come across them here in the US.

  12. @ Lauren ;) glad you came (and liked it)

    @ Kamel, de nada , al contrario. And yeah, we mexicans really have a relationship with our dear, delicious food. I guess in the States is still quite easy to find most of the stuff... ?

  13. Thanks for the mention Amanda! Also, yes -- it's pretty easy to find a lot of this stuff in the states although my mom always brings back a whole suitcase full of her favorite adrezaje every time she goes to Mexico. Let me know if you ever have a hankering for something -- mail from US to Europe is way faster than from Mexico to Europe. Cheaper too!

  14. @ Zan, de nada ;) Wow, lucky you to find that stuff. But luckily we will be going soon enough and I will be able to stock myself on things. But it is so nice to have found a place.
    And thanks so much for the offer :)


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