Wordless Wednesday: Cesar Chavez

Cesar Chavez Day is celebrated every year on March 31, the birth date of the famed Mexican-American labor leader and civil rights activist who helped unionize farm workers. I recently had a chance to visit a strawberry farm in Southern California with the California Strawberry Commission, where I had the chance to ask farmers questions about everything from how they grow their crops to their workers’ safety and healthcare, and immigration issues in the agricultural industry.

"If you really want to make a friend, go to someone's house and eat with him... the people who give you their food give you their heart." —Cesar Chavez | theothersideofthetortilla.com

I’m sharing one of my favorite Cesar Chavez quotes with you, written over a photo I took at the strawberry farm. More on that trip soon, but for today, just the quote.

 

How to make sugar skulls for Día de los Muertos

One of the most common decorations on altars for Day of the Dead is the sugar skull. You might not know how easy they are to make; they just require a little time (drying overnight) and patience (decorating with royal icing). I’ve put together a detailed tutorial with photos so you can see how easy it is!

You can even do this project with the kids—but be sure to use a drop cloth in case they make a mess with the sugar.

Ingredients to make sugar skulls for Day of the Dead

Tutorial how to make sugar skulls for Day of the Dead

You can see my full step-by-step photo tutorial of how to make sugar skulls for Day of the Dead on latinamom.me…. 

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Ofrendas: An ebook to celebrate Día de Los Muertos

Día de los Muertos, also known as Day of the Dead, is one of my favorite holidays. It’s an opportunity to reconnect with our loved ones lost through constructing an altar in their honor, and it’s also an opportunity to pass on traditions and inform others about the beauty of this holiday.

I’m excited to share that I’ve collaborated with six amazing bloggers to release this beautiful ebook full of recipes and crafts for Día de los Muertos! Here’s a sneak peek at some of the pages (read the full ebook embedded below).
Day of the Dead ebook: Recipes and Crafts to celebrate Día de los Muertos… 

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2013 McCormick Flavor Forecast gives Mexican food a global twist

We’re always looking to share Mexican food and culture in new ways here at The Other Side of The Tortilla. I recently had the opportunity to talk to McCormick Spices executive chef, Kevan Vetter, about global trends and the McCormick Flavor Forecast for 2013. You can watch the video with some clips from our interview below. Some of the flavor pairings this year include combinations such as black rum, charred orange and allspice for an awesome twist on the classic piña colada cocktail, smoked tomato, rosemary, chiles and sweet onion for handcrafted sauces and salsas, hearty meat cuts with plantains and cinnamon sticks, and anise and something muy Mexicanacajeta, a goat’s milk caramel.

Today I’m sharing the five trends from this year’s Flavor Forecast report and what I love about each of them.

Be sure to check back soon for another video with more from my chat with Kevan and for recipes and a holiday giveaway from McCormick just for you!

5 TRENDS OF GLOBAL FLAVOR FOR 2013

No apologies necessary.
This trend is all about diving headfirst into flavors to enjoy the gratification of a momentary escape.
What I love about it: Family dinner is especially a time I like to momentarily escape from the pressures of work and life and just enjoy a meal together, talk and relax. It’s an important part of our culture to share meals as a family without having to be apologetic to others about flying under the radar for a bit. Savoring your food and your time with your family is a great habit to develop early with your kids so they come to expect it as they grow older.

Personally handcrafted.
This trend signifies the hands-on approach to showcasing the very best of ourselves.
What I love about it: There’s no more personal gift than making something yourself to give to the people you love. And when I say gift, I don’t mean only gifts that you give for holidays and special occasions. Making home-cooked meals for your family is also a gift to them, even if they don’t always realize or appreciate it. The other day I made the extra effort to make José a special salsa to go with milanesas for dinner, and he said it was the best part of the meal. It makes me feel good to know that going the extra mile with personally handcrafted dishes makes such an impact on the happiness of those around me.

Empowered eating.
This trend includes creating harmony of health and wellness through a highly personalized, flexible approach to the way you eat.
What I love about it: When it comes to empowered eating, it bothers me that a lot of people think Mexican food can’t be healthy and that everything we eat is swimming in cheese, which isn’t true. Como mamá siempre nos dijo: ¡Todo en moderación! For the English speakers, that’s “everything in moderation.” There are so many Mexican ingredients that pack a lot of flavor without the addition of calories or fat. Chiles are a prime example in Mexican cooking because they can be used in so many ways—fresh, dried, powdered, and the list goes on. Finding the right balance is up to the individual.

Hidden potential.
This trend is all about the “waste-not” mentality and uncovering the fullest flavors from every last part of the ingredient.
What I love about it: This trend is actually also a way of life when it comes to Mexican cooking. If you think about Mexican dishes such as carnitas, you use just about every last bit of the pig so nothing is wasted. I may not like to eat riñones (kidneys), but my suegro does! Check it out, amigos Mexicanos… we were doing this way before it was trendy! Even with tortillas that are a little too old to eat, I hate to throw them away. So I bake them to make tostadas, or cut them up and fry them to make totopos (hearty tortilla chips).

Global my way.
This trend includes discovering the unlimited flavor possibilities of global ingredients and using them outside of their traditional roles in ethnic cuisines.
What I love about it: I’m always trying to incorporate my favorite Mexican ingredients into non-Mexican dishes, or to put a Mexican spin on a non-Mexican dish by infusing a traditionally Mexican flavor. Chef Vetter shared with me a tamal recipe that pairs with a Japanese katsu sauce, which I thought was pretty cool and that I’m looking forward to trying out soon.

  • Watch some of my conversation with McCormick Spices executive chef Kevan Vetter and then let me know which trend you like best in the comments below.
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Want to know more? You can read the full 2013 McCormick Flavor Forecast report on the future of global flavor trends and how they develop the forecast at flavorforecast.com.

Disclosure: This post is part of a sponsored series to promote McCormick Spices 2013 Flavor Forecast global flavor trend report. We received promotional materials and an exclusive interview with McCormick’s executive chef to assist in writing this post, but all opinions in this series are our own.

Día de los Muertos at the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood

In Chicago, we’re very lucky to have a lot of Mexican food and culture at our fingertips. But one of my favorite places, particularly around Día de los Muertos, is the National Museum of Mexican Art. Located in the Pilsen neighborhood, the museum is free (thanks to sponsors) and open six days a week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Every year, they have an excellent exhibit for Día de los Muertos. This year’s exhibit, titled “Hanal Pixán” which means “food for the souls” in the Mayan language, is no exception. And it runs until December 16 if you haven’t seen it yet.

Every year, I love going to the museum around Día de los Muertos not only for the exhibit, but also for the calaveritas de azúcar (sugar skulls) that are handmade and decorated by the famous Mondragón family from Toluca, Mexico.

But one of the things I love most about the museum is open year-round: the Tzintzuntzán gift shop, which has all kinds of Mexican treasures from art to books and music to home decorations and more. Especially during Day of the Dead festivities, the gift shop is filled with Día de los Muertos trinkets and goodies—they’ve got papel picado (that is actually reasonably priced), shadowboxes with mini ofrendas, sugar skulls, paper mache food for ofrendas such as paper mache pan dulce, and the list goes on and on.

Below is a slideshow of some of my favorite items for sale in the gift shop during a recent visit.

La Virgen de Guadalupe

Picture 1 of 12

This shadowbox from the museum's gift shop is one of many dedidated to La Virgen de Guadalupe.

The National Museum of Mexican Art is located at 1852 W. 19th St., Chicago, IL 60608.

  • Have you been to the museum? What’s your favorite exhibit or thing you’ve seen in the gift shop?

Celebrating Día de los Muertos with friends: Un Dulce Hogar

Día de los Muertos was this past week and as a special treat, I’ve asked some of my friends to send me photos and descriptions of their altars to share here on The Other Side of The Tortilla to show the variety of ways that people celebrate this holiday.

Today, I’m sharing the altar of my friend Danielly Lara from Un Dulce Hogar.

 

Danielly Lara from undulcehogar.com shares her altar for Día de los Muertos. PHOTO/COURTESY OF DANIELLY LARA

Where in Mexico are your family’s roots?
I am a first generation immigrant from the city of Cuernavaca in the beautiful state of Morelos, known for its spring weather all year long. All my family lives in Mexico, and they have been denied visas to come visit the U.S. so I literally live between two worlds. My dad lives in California, but he left me and my family when I was 8 years old. Although I’m glad he’s here, I haven’t lived with him in California.

Who does your altar honor?
My altar mainly honors my culture and my roots. I put together my altar at the last minute. I called my dad and asked him to expedite me a box full of sugar skulls (some of them arrived broken), marigolds, bread and papel picado. Then I went through my files and found pictures from two of my great grandmas and one of my tía abuela.

Why do you make an altar for Día de los Muertos?
I made the altar because I wanted my kids to learn about my traditions. This is my first attempt to recreate a Mexican tradition with them and it was a success!

How does it keep you connected to Mexican culture?
Last summer I had the chance to take my kids to Mexico to meet my family. They connected with my family in a very deep way, the Latin way. Saying goodbye to come back to the U.S. was heartbreaking, not only to me, but to them as well. They not only learned Spanish, but they also learned that there is an entire family that loves them in a different part of the world. They had never had many adults around in their lives who paid individual attention to them. Ever since we got back to Utah, they think that every airplane that goes by our house is either going to Mexico or coming back from Mexico. I know that they will forget those relationships they formed if I don’t maintain their connected to Mexico. I don’t know if they will continue these traditions, but I know that at least they will be exposed to them. They will have to decide for themselves if they want to pass them on or not, but I surely hope they do.

For more photos and a story about Danielly’s altar for Día de los Muertos, click here to visit Un Dulce Hogar.

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