mexico

Food Friday: Budin Azteca

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today we land in Mexico.  One of my favorite food places.  This is a layered casserole that is really worth the effort.  Vegetarians can leave the chicken out.  For a variation, use pork instead of chicken.

Budin Azteca  (Aztec Casserole)

2 tablespoons oil

½ cup chopped onion  (125g)

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heat up a pan with the oil and cook onion and garlic until transparent.  Watch it so you don’t burn the garlic.

Add:

3 cups tomato puree (750g)

1.5 tsp salt

Cook until heated through

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To another pan add:

1 tbsp butter

3 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels

2 small zucchini (courgettes) chopped

Cook a 2-3 minutes and add:

1/3 cup water

Cover and cook on low heat for 5-7 minutes until the zucchini is tender.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prepare and cut into strips:

2 chiles poblanos (roasted, pealed, membranes removed)

If you don’t want to go through the roasting and peeling process, you could buy tinned whole green chiles and use them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You will also need:

1 cup cooked shredded chicken

1 cup grated manchego, muenster, monterey jack or white cheddar cheese

1 cup (250ml) thick cream (crème fraiche)

corn tortillas – warmed

Assembly:

Oil a large baking dish.

Place a thin layer of vegetables on the bottom

Cover with warmed tortillas (5-6)

 

 

 

 

 

Add about half the tomato sauce to cover

Top that with half the remaining vegetables

 

 

 

 

 

Then half the chiles

Half cup cream

half the chicken

 

 

 

 

 

and half the cheese

Repeat the layers finishing with the cheese on top.

Bake in 375 degree F oven for 20-25 minutes until cheese is melted (might be a little longer)

Serve with avocado and salad.

 

 

Expat Alien

 

Today I am happily re-posting a review of my book.  Maggie at FlyAwayHome was kind enough to share her thoughts.  Have a look at her blog and her book as well (it is a good one!)

 

With all the traveling I’ve been doing this summer, my blog is starting to resemble a travel blog. To mix things up, I thought I’d try writing a book review. I just finished reading a good book, so here goes…

If you’ve ever lived or simply dream of living in a foreign country, then Kathleen Gamble’s book Expat Alien: My Global Adventure, is for you. I was first introduced to Kathy and her well told stories of travel and adventure through her blog, also known as the Expat Alien. Kathy and I are two American girls who were both born in the fifties, but while I grew up on the steady shores of our homeland, she grew up wandering the world.

Click here to see the rest!

My First Review!

 

 

 

 

A huge thank you to Linda at Adventures in Expat Land for taking the time to read and review my book Expat Alien.

Riveting Expat Reading: Expat Alien

August 17, 2012 by LAJ

Last week I was away spending some well deserved time alone with Husband, Son and Daughter. After the hectic and emotionally draining summer we’ve had, it was nice to enjoy the sun, surf and sand on Captiva Island in southern Florida.

It was good for us to reconnect as a family, relaxing individually and collectively as one day slipped into the next. We also made sure to store up the sunlight for colder, darker days ahead back home in Nederland, but we needn’t address that at the moment.

One thing I did do while relaxing was to catch up on some expat reading.

Continue reading…

The Olympics

Lee Evans gets the gold in 1968

I watched the Olympic opener in London last night.  Not sure why I did it.  I usually don’t do that sort of thing.  I kept switching between it and the “Midsummer Mystery” who-done-it on PBS.  I found it insulting and rather annoying to have to listen to the NBC network people constantly telling me what I was watching.  I was watching it wasn’t I?  Why did they have to tell me what it was.  It would have been much more fun to figure it out for myself.

I thought overall it was okay, some parts were pretty cheesy, some parts kind of ridiculous, but…in the end the love you take is equal to the love you make…   Paul McCartney looked OLD!  Ugh!  He was always the one with the boyish looks!

In 1968 the Olympics were in Mexico City.  We were living there at the time and my school gave us a month off.  Probably to ease congestion on the roads.  It was my family’s cue to get out of town.  We went to the USA and visited family.  All my cousins were in school and people on the street looked at me funny like — why wasn’t I in school?  So I completely missed the Olympics.  I did hear about some American guys who got medals and made a stance for the plight of the African American by raising their fists.  They got in trouble for it.  After all the Olympics is not supposed to be political. But this was 1968 and race was a huge issue in the USA.

About ten years later I was sitting on my porch in Nigeria when I was introduced to Lee Evans.  He was saying goodbye to my mother who he had become friends with.  At the time he had been coaching the Nigerian National team.  He said he was happy to leave Africa and was frustrated with all the road blocks and corruption in Nigeria.  He joked briefly about that day back in 1968 when he had raised his fist and said if he had known then what he knew now, he probably wouldn’t have done it.  But from what I understand he did go back to Africa and to Nigeria.  And even though he might have used his 15 minutes to make a political statement at the Olympics, you have to admit he was a great athlete.

The Harvest

In 1975, I volunteered for an organization called Migrants in Action.  It was an advocacy group for the Mexican migrant workers who worked in the fields from Texas to Minnesota and all across the USA.  This got me interested in learning more about these migrant workers.  I was in college at the time and decided to apply for an independent study to write a research paper on migrant workers in the USA.  It was approved and I spent six weeks doing research and writing the paper.

Part of my research took me to the LBJ Library in Austin, Texas.  I don’t remember the details, there was a lot of legal jargon in my paper but it boiled down to:  Things were not Good for the Mexican Migrant Worker.  Here is a timeline:

  • 1920:  The Bracero Program is born. This was a contract that allowed for workers to bring their families with them, stated the pay rate, work schedule, where they would work and their legal status.  Of course this contract was written in English.
  • 1924:  The US Border Patrol was created and the “Illegal Alien” is born
  • 1942:  World War II creates job vacancies.  The Bracero Treaty was signed and this opened the door again to Mexican laborers. Between 1942 and 1964 four million Mexican farm workers came to the USA. Again the contracts were written in English and many braceros would sign them without knowing what their rights were or were not.  At the end of their contract they had to return to Mexico. As World War II ended, the jobs were taken over by returning veterans or workers displaced from wartime industries.  The program ended in 1964.
  • 1966:  Cesar Chavez leads a 250-mile march to Sacramento, California, to bring attention to the mistreatment of farm workers.
  • 1975: The California Labor Relations Act was passed; it was the first law that protected the rights of organizations of farm workers.

Today many of migrant workers are second or third generation families who have their US citizenship.  It is also possible to enter the country legally through the Guest Worker program.  Sometimes people will stay after their contract ends hoping for additional work and a better life.  In this way they open themselves up to all kinds of abuse and injustice because technically they do not exist. But even people with citizenship are living in poverty under horrible conditions.

There is a new documentary film called The Harvest/ La Cosecha which follows three children in a migrant worker family.  There are 400,000 children in the USA who work long hours seven days a week picking the food that ends up on your table.  The film in and of itself is an advocacy for this group of undervalued and mostly “invisible” people.

Chapultepec Castle

Chapultepec Castle

I lived in Mexico City for seven years.  I never saw any Cinco de Mayo celebrations until I moved to the USA years later.  In Mexico it is a regional holiday centered around the state of Puebla.  It commemorates the defeat of the French in the Battle of Puebla.  Napoleon III decided it would be a good idea to invade Mexico – for several reasons I won’t go into here.  The French army landed on the coast and marched in toward the capital.  As they reached Puebla, they met with heavy resistance.  Although there were only 4,000 ill equipped Mexicans, they were able to overcome and defeat the 8,000 well equipped French army on May 5, 1862.

Yay!  Margarita time!!

Unfortunately Napoleon III did not take this well.  The following year he sent a much larger army and was able to take over the Mexican government and place a puppet emperor at the head of it.  Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian was a Hapsburg and Commander in Chief of the Austrian Navy.  In May 1864 he arrived in Mexico as Maximilian I, Emperor of Mexico.  He was accompanied by his wife, Charlotte, Princess of Belgium.

He was liked and supported by the conservatives but had problems with the liberal forces led by Benito Juarez who refused to recognize his rule.  Battles continued over the three years he was Emperor.  When the US Civil War ended, Abraham Lincoln supported Juarez and Napoleon III started to withdraw his troops.  Maximilian fought until the end but was captured and executed in June 1867.  In 1866 his wife, Charlotte, had returned to Europe seeking support for her husband but was unsuccessful.  She never returned to Mexico and spent the rest of her days, until her death in 1927, in seclusion.  They say she went insane and never acknowledged her husband’s death.

During the time they were in Mexico, they lived at Chapultepec Castle.  It is reminiscent of the palaces of Europe with one room leading into the next and all lavishly furnished.  It has big terraces with views overlooking Mexico City.  When we were in grade school we had school trips to see what is now a National Museum.  We could walk up the hill to the castle or we could enter the hill through a dark tunnel and take the elevator.  It was both scary and thrilling to risk taking the elevator!

Every year they would show the American 1939 movie “Juarez” on Mexican TV.  Bette Davis played Charlotte and she was wonderful.  It is a classic and I made sure I watched it every year.  I felt sorry for the European Emperor and his wife but the triumph over the French every year was exciting!!

Viva Mexico!  Happy Cinco de Mayo!!

Metro-Subway-Underground-Tube-UBahn

Moscow Metro Station    (Christophe Meneboeuf)

 

Moscow

The Moscow Metro opened its doors in 1935.  The line was 11.6 km.

“Thirteen stations built on the initial section had island platforms long enough to take eight-car trains.  They were the first stations in the world to be completely faced with granite and marble and all had unique designs.”

When I arrived in Moscow, it took me a while to get up the guts to tackle the metro on my own.  All the signs were in Russian so I would have to sit down and concentrate to figure out what the Cyrillic writing said in order to know which way to go.  Once I started riding it regularly, people would always be asking me something I could not understand.  I had no idea why they kept asking me questions.  Like, were they lost or something?   Eventually I figured out that most of them were asking me if I was getting off at the next stop because they wanted to position themselves for the push to exit.

Today there are 12 lines running 305.5 km through 185 stations.  On my first visit I was impressed with the Metro.  All the stations were different.  Some had beautiful chandeliers hanging down the main hallway, some had marble statues and archways, some had mosaics in the ceiling, and one had colorful stained glass windows.  By the time I left, the stations were starting to look a little run down and were not very clean.  Before the fall of the Soviet Union, the number of people who could live in Moscow and use the metro was limited.  By the time I left 9 million passengers were using it on a daily basis.  It was taking its toll.  Today it is one of the busiest metros in the world – 2.3 billion rides per year.  Just for comparison, New York City has 1.6 billion rides per year.

Mexico 

The Mexico City Metro opened in 1969,  just as we were leaving.  It had 16 stations. During construction many important archeological finds were documented and rescued.  Today it has eleven lines and 451 km of track with 163 stations.  I remember going on it a couple of times when it first opened but I didn’t like riding on it.  When I went back in 1989 with my friends Jane and Tina, we decided to take the metro  home one day after being out sight-seeing and ended up getting onto a car jammed full of men.  Jane and Tina managed to make their way over to the window and somehow, found seats.  I stayed nearer to the door because the whole car was so full.  The men closed in around me and there were a million hands all over me.  I looked around to see who the guilty parties were and everyone I looked at was staring at the ceiling.  Finally I decided I had to take some action.  I managed to get my elbows perpendicular to my body and I rotated with as much force as I could.  They all scattered to the far corners of the car, which made us all laugh.  I then managed to make it over to where my friends were.  When we got back to the condo where we were staying, we found out that there were separate subway cars for men and women to reduce groping.  A little late for that!

Boston 

Boston is home to the first subway in the United States dating back to 1897 – the Tremont Street Subway (now known as the Green Line).  I remember riding on it many times during my year in Boston.  It was not air-conditioned and at rush hour was very crowded and hot!  Hopefully it has been upgraded since then.  The Red Line was brand new when I was there and was quiet and comfortable and never seemed to be too crowded.

Washington DC 

The Metro in Washington DC is modeled after BART in San Francisco. I met and became friends with a guy in Moscow whose family built the DC Metro.  It is clean and sterile.  It is expensive.  There is nowhere near enough of it.  It opened in 1976 and has five lines with 86 stations and 171.1 km of track.  It is the second busiest subway in the USA after New York City.  They are currently extending it out to Dullus Airport.  What they need is a ring line around the city.  But nobody asked me.

Do you have a favorite Metro?