Google doodle celebrates Diego Rivera’s birthday

I’m a huge fan of the creative Google doodles, especially when they’ve got cultural significance. Today, the 125th anniversary of Diego Rivera’s birthday, the Google doodle teaches you a little about him! Check out the video.

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Want to read more from The Other Side of The Tortilla about Diego Rivera?

10 things to love about Mexico City’s Museo Dolores Olmedo

The tiles on the wall at the Museo Dolores Olmedo read: “By the example of my mother, professor Maria Patiño Suarez, widow of Olmedo, who always told me: ‘Share all you have with those around you.’ I leave this house with all my collections of art, the product of my life’s work, so the people of Mexico can enjoy it.” —Dolores Olmedo Patiño

Last year on a visit to Mexico City during the holidays, I spent a special day with friends exploring a few places I had never been before. Thanks to the abundance of cultural activities the city has to offer, there’s always something new to discover. I was thrilled to hear that the Museo Dolores Olmedo was on the itinerary they planned since I’m a big Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera fan.

Dolores Olmedo Patiño, also known to many as Doña Lola, was an aggressive collector and patron of the arts and is still revered today as one of the biggest individual benefactors and promoters of Mexican art and culture. At age 17, she met Diego Rivera by chance in an elevator at the Ministry of Public Education when he was still working on the murals there (that can still be seen today), and he ended up asking her to model for him. According to the museum, she modeled in nearly 30 nude sketches and then was the subject of other later paintings by Rivera. After separating from her husband, British journalist Howard Phillips (whom she married in 1935), the well-to-do single Olmedo made a career as a partner in a construction materials firm in the late 1940s. In the mid-1950s, she reconnected with Rivera and eventually became his benefactor, caretaker and eventually, executor of his estate and that of Frida Kahlo.

In the early 1960s Olmedo acquired Hacienda La Noria, a 16th-century Spanish colonial hacienda located in Xochimilco (a neighborhood in the south of Mexico City). At the time she acquired the property, it was a shell of its original state and so she set out on a mission to restore and preserve the hacienda. In the late 1980s, Olmedo announced plans to convert her hacienda into a museum, which opened in September 1994. Olmedo passed away in 2002 but her legacy still lives on in this charming museum she left behind for all to admire just as intended.

Here are my top ten reasons to visit the Museo Dolores Olmedo
the next time you’re in Mexico City… 

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¡Hoy es el cumpleaños de Frida Kahlo!

Today marks the 104th anniversary of the birthday of my favorite Mexican artist, Frida Kahlo!

If you’re not familiar with Frida’s life, work, or the famous Casa Azul, you can read more about them on the Museo Frida Kahlo website (in English). And if you’re ever visiting Mexico City, Casa Azul is one of the places you absolutely must visit.

It’s a magical place where you can feel her presence in just about every room and in the garden as well.

At the time I last visited Casa Azul, a stunning and thought-provoking private collection of photographs of Frida, Diego and their family and friends, entitled “Frida Kahlo: Sus Fotos,” was on display and many of the photographs were taken by Frida herself. It was an incredibly interesting glimpse into her life and how things looked from her point of view. You can read more about the photo exhibition, which ran through December 2010, on the museum’s website (in Spanish).… 

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Mexico City: my visit to Casa Azul

the corner of calle Londres & Allende in Coyoacán

At 247 calle Londres, where Londres meets Allende in a colorful old part of Mexico City called Coyoacán, lies the Casa Azul – the place where Frida Kahlo once lived and that is now a museum in her honor. I imagine that the blue walls both inside and out have probably been repainted several times over to maintain the vibrant shade of cobalt blue that I’ve never quite seen replicated outside of Mexico City, but I still had this eerie feeling when I stepped inside like I was stepping back in time. It’s a feeling I often get when visiting Mexico City – and in some strange way, it’s one of the reasons it feels like home to me. I had to suppress the urge to touch the paint, as if I might be lucky enough that a little bit would rub off and I could take a little piece of that cobalt blue home to Chicago with me.

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve actually traveled to Mexico City by now, but the one thing I haven’t lost track of is how many historical and cultural places I still haven’t yet visited. Until a few weeks ago, Frida’s Casa Azul was one of them. I’d passed by it before, both walking and driving, on my way to the mercado in Coyoacán. Someday, I’ll visit every last one on my list. But this day was dedicated to Frida.

view of Frida’s bedroom, studio and library from the garden

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GUAYABAS EN SANCOCHO (AKA GUAYABAS EN ALMÍBAR)

Mexican guayabas en almíbar. Get the recipe on theothersideofthetortilla.com.

Guayabas en sancocho, also known as guayabas en almíbar, is a delicious dessert of guavas stewed in a cinnamon and piloncillo syrup.

I love the smell of ripe Mexican guavas. Their creamy white flesh and tropical fragrance are simply intoxicating. They remind me of this one particular little stall that sells fruits at the Mercado Coyoacán where my mother-in-law likes to shop. Whenever I visit Mexico City, I’m always eager to tag along with my suegra when she needs to grab something from the mercado because I love walking among the vendor stalls discovering new things.

José also likes the smell of guayabas–but for a different reason. You see, as a big brother, José has always dabbled in a serious form of sibling rivalry. My cuñada, on the other hand, can’t stand the smell or taste of guayabas. The smell actually makes her wretch. A few years ago when we were visiting around Christmastime, we bought a big bag of guayabas for making ponche navideño. I’m sure you can guess what happened next.

RELATED RECIPE: Ponche navideño… 

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