Sunday, February 22, 2015

Truchas los alcatraces (Ocuilan)

The other day the boy's family took us to a hidden gem of a restaurant, to be found in Ocuilan (Carretera Cuernavaca Ocuilan - Estado de México).

It is a family-owned business, specialized in trout dishes. I do not normally eat fish, unless I know where it is coming from and the conditions in which the fish is raised and or caught. Here, they grow the trout in their own ponds, amidst the beautiful natural landscape of Morelos.

Families, young and old will enjoy this place, with its playgrounds, forest, and above all, delicious food. You can enjoy typical Mexican 'antojitos' (snacks, though the word literally means 'little cravings') such as sopes, quesadillas de huitlacoche, flor de calabaza, rajas, etc... and most importantly steamed or fried trout, with or without garlic (my favorite: ''al mojo de ajo"), dipped in different Mexican salsas and so on.

The tortillas, sopes, quesadillas an other treats made with corn masa (dough) are all cooked following the most traditional manner, on a stone kitchen.

We were impressed by the delicious food, beautiful place, hospitality and good service, so I thought I'd write them a short note over here. If you are ever in the Cuernavaca area, be sure to visit.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

What's up with all the added sugar in infant cereals?

The other day, as I was walking through the aisles in a Mexican supermarket, trying to find a baby-cereal to mix with baby Y's fruit I was shocked at the lack of "healthy"options. By healthy I mean free of added sugar. But there I was, reading the labels of the major brands offered for infants: Gerber , Nestum (Nestlé) and Cerelac. I almost lost my sight and I could not believe what I read, but regardless of the fact that the packagings claimed the cereals contained: "no artificial flavours or preservatives"and looked very natural if you were to believe the impression they made, with the brown and beige rustic looking bag, every one of these cereals contained circa 5 grams * of sugar in a 15 gram portion of cereal. What!!! That is 33 % of sugar content. Or, if you want to imagine it in a more graphic way, that is 1 spoon of sugar, per 3 spoons of cereal. I just can not believe this is even allowed by authorities (though I am hardly surprised) but I am even more shocked at the lack of an alternative. **

I am with Jamie Oliver, disappointed, outraged, shocked. I feel,like him, that most of America*** "has been raped by multinantional corporations as they dominate the market with unhealthy products." Coca-Cola products are one thing, and a whole other subject, but these are babies we are talking about. This is the sugar lobbies working hard to perpetuate our sweet teeth, getting us hooked at the earliest possible stages. Again, like Jamie said: "Sugar's definitely the next evil. It's the next tobacco, without doubt". It can potentially "destroy lives, by causing obesity and illness". 

The problem is not sugar per-se, as it is all about learning balance, self-control, and of course, enjoying the pleasures of life (This blog is after all called Poppies and Ice Cream. I love ice-cream. Both the boy and I were nicknamed Cookie Monsters, enough said). The problem is highly-processed products, devoid of the fiber, minerals and other nutrients they originally contained. The problem perhaps most importantly, is the way those products act in our primate brains, the reactions they trigger. Evolution has not caught up with the abundance of food available to to those in most Western societies and so when our bodies find a product so sweet, so highly concentrated in glucose (or other sachharides) they say: "jackpot!", our survival instincts turn up to the max and go into a 'let's-store-all-of this energy-in-preparation-for-those-days-where-food-sources-might-become-scarce' mode. And scarily, our taste buds and brains get used to this highly stimulating products and won't be satisfied with anything else, generating addiction, and a neurological reaction that has been compared to the high of certain drugs. ****

I wish this was not the case. I wish information could be available to everyone. I wish parents were at least offered a choice. It makes me so sad, particularly knowing the alarmingly increasing rates of obesity in Mexico.

*4.8 gr in 15 gr. to be precise
**Unless of course you do what I did, buying regular oatmeal and grinding it in a food processor.
*** (America, the continent)

Friday, February 6, 2015

Random things about me and an award

The other day Catarina, from CraftieMum, a Portuguese writer who lives in The Hague, nominated me for the Liebster blog award. I was really happy to receive it and thought it would be fun to answer her questions. 

1) What is your favourite food? Hmmm. This is a hard one, so much choice. The first thing that came to mind were "milanesas de pollo"(Mexican-style chicken schnitzels), enfrijoladas (cheese or chicken-filled tortillas covered in a bean sauce) and "crema de elote con rajas" (corn creamy soup with charred-poblano-pepper stripes). But, I also love sushi, anything Italian or French, particularly dishes that include aubergine and raspberries.

2) How many languages do you speak? Let's see, Spanish is my mother-tongue, closely followed by French and English. My Catalan knowledge is quite good (if I may say so myself) after living 5 years in Barcelona. I also speak Dutch and have some basic grasp of Italian.

3) What was your most embarrassing moment? I don't know, but probably that first time I realized that gynaecologists in Holland were not going to provide a surgical paper gown during an exploration. There is also that time I slipped into the Grand Canal in Venice when I was trying to see if the water was warm.

4) What is your favourite place in your home country? This is a tough one. I love Michoacan, such a beautiful state. Also Baja California Sur. And Guadalajara is one of my favorite cities. 

 5) Do you have kids, and how many? If not, would you like to have kids, and why? We have a beautiful sunshine of a daughter who just turned one.

6) Which countries have you visited so far? Let me think. Switzerland, France, Spain, Germany, Canada, Bolivia, Mexico, Turkey (only Istanbul), the USA, Luxembourg, Monaco, The Netherlands, The UK, Belgium, Italy, Greece, Hungary (only Budapest), Austria (only Vienna) and I think that's about it. 

7) Do you love what you do for a living, or are you still searching? I am in love with Veterinary Medicine, but sadly I haven't been able to work as a vet, excluding different types of internships. I also love baking and painting, so I am lucky to have been able to blend the two and start a business combining those two passions. I love writing too, though it is more of a personal exercise. I am still hoping to find a place where I can use my university studies, it feels so wasteful to have two diplomas sitting on a shelf. Such hard work. Our baby keeps me busy the whole day though, so I am thoroughly enjoying this much-awaited phase of our lives. 

8) What is your favourite book? I think Hopscotch (Rayuela) by Julio Cortazar. But I also love Milan Kundera (The ignorance, The unbearable lightness of being, and some others), The Chronicles of Narnia (C.S.Lewis) and classic fairy tales, particularly those of Hans Christian Andersen. 

9) What would you like to do when you retire? Umm, live in a cozy apartment or a farm somewhere sunny and near the sea. I am thinking the South of France or Catalunya. Italy could also work. Also, raise goats. 

10) What do you do for fun? Read, travel, go to museums, try to discover new places in cities we love, go for long walks... 

11) Why do you write? I write mostly for me, to journal, to keep track of what we have been up to. And as an exercise, a creative outlet and a way to let feelings out. The connections I have made through this little space are very special, particularly the friendships that have been formed through my nonsense ramblings. 

To keep it going on, I would like to nominate: Ma. Fer from De este lado de mi mundo, Blanca from Agua de Limon, GypsyMama from Our Magic Moments, Marcia from With  love Marcia, Hayley from Wee Hermione, Taniabeth from Varekai, Just Me from Bits and Peaces, Senja from Puukengat, Zarawitta from Viaje al Centro de la Beca (hint, hint, please write again), Amy from The Tide that Left and Bettiann from The Swiss Wife Style. 

And my questions are: 1. If you could live anywhere in the World, where would that be? 2. Have you ever felt any city in the world pull you, even though you did not know it before or had any ties with said city before? 3. Which is your favourite book or author? 4. Do you have a pet? 5. What would be an ideal day for you? What would you do on such a day? 6. What do you do? Study? Work? Raise pandas? 7. Tell me where you ate the best ice-cream in your life. 8. What is your favourite museum (or sight)? 9. What has been your favourite trip / place you have ever visited? 10. What is your favourite animal? 11. Just for fun, if  you could choose your looks, what would you look like? ( I would love to have emerald eyes and orange hair). 

Monday, February 2, 2015

#January Joy: Have a long leisurely Sunday lunch

I was not going to miss the opportunity for a calm Sunday lunch, so this challenge I was going to take for sure :). I am only discovering, as we slowly approach toddler-hood, that finding child-friendly places that are also clean, where the kids can roam and play freely (read clean the dirty floor with their limbs as they crawl) is not as easy as one may think.

Sometime in early December we went to a pancake place with a cousin of Mark. You could fill-in a card with your birthday so that they would treat you for a free pancake on said day. We of course filled it in for Yu, and when we got the invitation, we booked!

This place is in the middle of Zoetermeer's oldest street (the Dorpstraat), it has a terrace that opens during the summer days, an area full of toys for children and many high chairs.

It is full of light. Also, pancakes, did I say pancakes? Pancakes are they specialty and they serve them sweet and salty.

Mark had a classic one with apple, grandma chose pineapple and ginger and I went for flambéed  cherries and vanilla ice cream. The kid ate carrot and pumpkin purée, apple and some pancake as well.

 For someone who'd been refusing solids for a week (oh teething), she chose a good meal to start eating again.

If you are in the province of Zuid Holland I thoroughly recommend De Binnentuin (Dorpstraat 97P, Zoetermeer, +31 79 3602016)

Sunday, February 1, 2015

#January Joy: Capture the memories

 I know, I know, January is gone. It is NOT January anymore. But I have a couple of #January Joy challenges I still want to do and this one in particular made me very, very happy.

On December 2013 -we did not know then we were only a few weeks away from baby Y.'s birth-, I received a Baby diary that goes all the way through the child's 5th year. I remember very clearly having a small tantrum about it. I was immediately overwhelmed by having to keep track and record  so much data. I might have cried about it, about the sense of duty attached to filling in the book.

Then, when she was born, I received another baby book  from a close-relative; later a third-one from our insurance company and yet a fourth-one from my dear ex-colleagues. I was lucky that for some weird reason there was a baby-boom around us around the time we finally got blessed with our lucky cosmic miracle, and I could gift the couple of extra books to some of these friends. I could never have filled in so many.

In the end I choose to keep: "Mijn baby dagboek" by Amy Nebens, illustrated by C. Garland (the one that covers 5 years) and the Dutch version of a Beatrix Potter's BabyBook (which only covers the baby's first year, but in much more detail and with more space for photos). I just couldn't resist the beautiful illustrations and it was such a thoughtful, lovely present from my colleagues.

Funny, one of the things that immediately changed after birth was the sudden urge to hold all the memories, to keep track of everything, to capture the magic, to never let it go. And so, my previous overwhelmed feelings at such a task evaporated, disappeared.

 Last week, after Y.'s birthday I finally took the time to sit down and look at the photos we have taken all through her first momentous year and chose the ones that I would print for her books. I loved doing it. Now if we could only finish her 1st year video (an idea that we totally stole from Lauren and Kamel), I'd be the happiest girl on Earth, hint, hint, husband.

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