Mexico City: What Really Grinds My Gears

grinds-my-gearsRegardless of how much I love Mexico, there are some things I hate about its people, my people (our people, and so on) and their habits and manners.

I hate these things not because I´ve lived abroad or I feel better than my countrymen, these are just things that according to common sense (and international agreements and covenants) shouldn´t even happen in the first place:

 “What did you bring/buy me?”

Plain and simple, no matter where you are going or where you are coming from, your friends and relatives will always ask you “so, what did you bring me?” and will be upset if you didn´t think of them and their needs for souvenirs while you were abroad. Ironically, they ask for presents instead of asking about your trip or wishing you a safe flight.

Exactly, this is how you guys look when you ask for souvenirs instead of greeting me.

Exactly, this is how you guys look when you ask for souvenirs instead of greeting me.

“Can I steal that from you?”

You read it right, at least in the centre of the country people don´t ask for stuff, like “May I have some water?” or “Could you lend me your MC Hammer Vinyl?”, in Mexico City people prefer to “steal” from you.

Oh, those were the days...

Oh, those were the days…

I found this shocking at first when coworkers will go like “Hey Luis, can I steal your phone for a second?” or if I´m having a snack people will lurk around and will say “Can I steal a bite from you?”… Goddamn it people! Just ask for it, don´t need to steal my Cheetos! Which brings me to…

 Cutting in line

In other countries I´ve visited, you queue accordingly, no matter if it is to enter a venue, the elevator, or when you go to the bank. Even if you see a friend or relative at the front of the line you just say “hi” and move to the end of the row, and wait, patiently. In Mexico it doesn´t work that way, if you find a friend at the front of the line, you greet him, talk to that person for a while and then… subtly stay behind or beside that person, literally cutting in line no questions asked. It is rare that somebody at the end of the line will point it out and ask you to do the right thing. (That´s my “cutting in line” theory*)

There´s one thing the English do right, and that´s freaking queuing

There´s one thing the English do right, and that´s freaking queuing

 Discrimination

Right, this isn´t as funny as the previous three, but discrimination is huge in Mexico. Discrimination based on race, social status, gender, place of birth, etc. And among all of these, gender discrimination is, I reckon, the biggest one. In Mexico, women are the silent victims of a society that objectivizes them, harasses them, and underestimates their role in the Mexican society as limited to marriage, motherhood and underpaid positions in the job market.

It reads: "it´s easy being a man"

It reads: “it´s easy being a man”

The independent, strong and self-driven females are seen by men and other women as aggressive, lonely and stubborn members of the Mexican society. Women don´t get paid the same amount of money for the same jobs as men, they mustn’t speak up their minds in family reunions or work meetings about politics, economics and their point of views regarding other topics traditionally addressed by men. And if you are thinking that I´m wrong, I´m sorry mate but you are one of those hipster guys who lives in the posh neighborhoods in Mexico City, or a suburban high class executive from Monterrey; and you still believe that women are free and brave and independent, or that they shouldn´t complain as they have all their needs sorted out (like a house, maids, marriage and a well-paid husband).

Because, remember, this is how many companies think.

Because, remember, this is how many companies think.

That´s right, I reckon that from these four examples, this last one pisses me off the most, as not only men discriminate women, women judge other women for their individual accomplishments not related to marriage and motherhood, undermining the development of an egalitarian society, more productive and equally able to provide a sustainable economic and social growth to all of its members.

Remember, harassment and discrimination of women leads to violence, as said this example in this article published by The Guardian on Mexico´s Machism: “The state of women’s rights in Mexico is alarming,” said Rupert Knox, from Amnesty International. “In recent years we have witnessed not only an increase in killings of women but a continuing routine lack of effective investigations and justice.”

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Just a quick example, “Maternity Leave” isn´t called that way in Mexico, oh no, when you ask a pregnant woman when is she having her time off to prepare everything for the birth of her baby, you say “When does your DISABILITY period start?” That´s right, because being pregnant isn´t becoming a mother, it is a disability. Also, instead of asking her when she is “due”, in Mexico we ask her “when are you getting better”, implying that pregnancy is an illness. Think about it, we portrait pregnancy, with these common expressions, as something negative for women.

maternity-leave

Quesadillas without cheese 

If you are in Mexico and you find a nice taco stand and ask for a quesadilla it will certainly come as a folded tortilla with melted cheese in it, right? Everywhere in Mexico except in one place, the capital, Mexico City. The first time in Mexico City that I asked for a quesadilla the waiter asked politely “With cheese?” What the bullocks man! As you might have guessed, the word “quesadilla” comes from the combination of words “queso” (Cheese, in Spanish) and tortilla, hence: Quesadilla.

Cheese, melting cheese! It´s in the bible, Jesus!

Cheese, melting cheese! It´s in the bible, Jesus!

Plain and simple, and if you reckon the opposite, well, my friend, you are sexist, narrow-minded and an enemy of the free world.

Ps. *The cutting in line theory: In Mexico corruption is the status quo, and most prefer to look to the other side whenever something illegal happens in their surroundings, the same with cutting in line. My theory is that people cut in line, while the people behind them also queuing silently judge that person but they don´t speak up, because they know that eventually they will be that person cutting in line. Translated to every day basis, Mexicans don´t speak up as eventually they´ll be in the position of breaking the law, with impunity.

Roast and Salad for Saturday

Saturday wasn´t any different, we went on the hunt for a good dining table and a washing machine. So my sister and I had the great idea to drive all the way to the East of the city (remember, this is Mexico City, almost 20 million people and more than 5 million cars, pretty much traffic hell everywhere), where several stores could supply our needs.

That´s the Walmart we are looking for!

That´s the Walmart we are looking for!

We were on this for 5 to 6 hours, we found the dining table, not the washing machine, and somehow we ended up in the North part of the city, because we are from out of town we didn´t realize that we suck at calculating time and distance in here.

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Anyway, the point is we were hungry as, bro, so we stopped by a supermarket (aye, it was a Walmart) and we got ourselves enough ingredients to cook what I´ll call: Sirloin and beef short ribs roast with beetroot and arugula salad. (or as my sister called it “just buy that piece of meat and let´s eat it raw on the way home”).

For the roast:

  • 500 grams of sirloin cut (usually known as Picaña, in Latin-America)
  • 500 grams of short beef ribs
  • 2 red capsicums, cut in halves
  • 1 big red onion in quarters
  • 1 small branch of fresh rosemary
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • Salt and Pepper
meats

If this isn´t heaven to you, then, bro, you are reading the wrong blog.


For the salad

  • Fresh arugula
  • 1 avocado
  • 30 grams of goat cheese
  • Half a red onion into thin slices.
  • 2 medium size beetroot boiled, and later grilled, then cut in quarters.
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper.

For the roast:

Turn on your oven at 200 Celcius, in the meantime put a large pan on the medium high heat, sprinkle on it some grounded pepper and salt, put the ribs first, let the fat melt while it covers the entire surface of the pan (faaaaaat…mygosh!). Now, grab that beautiful piece of meat and place it fat to the pan and let it freaking cook, I mean, we want to sear the surface of that steak. Do the same with the ribs.

Now put those pieces of meat in an oven tray, sprinkle more sea salt, pepper, put the sliced capsicums and onions around the meats and put into the oven for 45 minutes.

For the greens:

In a big bowl, put all the ingredients together, remember to put the cheese and the sliced avocado at the end, as they ought to be crowning your salad. Mix thoroughly and plate, crown with the avocado, the beetroot and the goat cheese.

Roasted-Beets1

Take the meat out of the oven and let it rest for 2 to 3 minutes, you want those juices to evenly distribute into your cut. Now slice and plate, pour yourself a glass of red and enjoy, you deserve it.

Roast

Home Cooking for the Brave

So, this is my report from last weekend, I was out of town for around a week, you know, work related stuff. Anyway, that´s not the point, as soon as I got back to Mexico City, my sister and I started cooking like maniacs for three days in a row, and it was awesome.

Not actually us... I´m bald, for instance.

Not actually us… I´m bald, for instance.

I´ll go as fast as I can with the dishes we prepared that weekend, full of laughs, adventures and inside jokes.

Friday

I was shattered by the end of  the week, couldn´t be bothered to do anything else, my sis went out and I decided to treat myself with something elegantly delicious. So, I rushed to the supermarket and got myself a neat piece of salmon, 1 kg of clams, spring onions, butter (oh yeah, baby, lots of butter), and a fancy rosé.

ButterBreak

These dishes can be cooked at the same time, so let´s start with the clams:

Put a regular size pot to medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, butter, spring onions, carrots (1 inch slices), sliced garlic, and half a sliced onion, then stir-fry until the onion softens. Now it gets interesting, put half a kilo of the clams in the pot (freaking rinse them, mate, don´t just cook stuff straight from the bag, you are better than that and you know it), now you either pour 1 cup of white wine or 1 cup of water, let it simmer for a while and put the lid on.

clams

The clams will open nicely, discard those that don´t.

For the salmon, follow these simple instructions:

Put some salt and pepper on the salmon, don´t mind the skin, leave it, it´s important, and if you are into it add some dill weed or smoked paprika to the rub. Turn on the heat to medium on a regular size pan, a table spoon of extra virgin olive oil and butter, let it melt, wait until the fat browns slightly and put the salmon skin down, now let it cook.

There you go, you can see exactly how it is cooking (not my actual kitchen, nor my pan, nor my salmon)

There you go, you can see exactly how it is cooking (not my actual kitchen, nor my pan, nor my salmon)

This technique is super easy, as you don´t need to turn the salmon to finish cooking, just let the heat flow from skin up. This will allow you to cook your meat to perfection.

And that´s it, just plate and enjoy it with a good rosé that you´ve obviously put in the fridge while you were cooking this.

salmon

Digg in, bro, you know you want to.

Ps. What´s the favourite dish you like cooking with your family or friends? Share your stories if you have something to share.

The Kitchen: My Happy Place

mexico-city-mexico1__banner-large

After coming back from awesome New Zealand, I moved to Mexico City, and I´ve been living here for the last two years. I´m loving it so far and I´ve met amazing people in this city, as well as knowing more about my professional capabilities and skills.

But there´s one thing I do miss, either from Aotearoa or my hometown, Tampico, and that is having a decent kitchen. I know what you are thinking, a good cook doesn´t need fancy spaces nor expensive appliances to deliver amazing dishes, however, before this new place, I used to cook in a kitchen only a hobbit could fit in.

My mates and I hanging out, you know, just chilling before going to an adventure, and stuff

My mates and I hanging out, you know, just chilling before going to an adventure, and stuff

Of course, I´m no Jamie Oliver grilling freaking salmon in the middle of the woods, but this kitchen was way too small for me and my usual need to cook for large audiences.

Just recently, I moved in with my youngest sister, we found a flat in one of the most interesting and quiet hoods in town, Colonia Napoles. What about the kitchen? It suffices, and has a nice working oven, pantry, and lots of space to chop, mix, marinate and other regular things I like doing there.

Because "Mise en Place" shall be mandatory in your kitchen, the way Jesus told his disciples back in the day, true story.

Because “Mise en Place” shall be mandatory in your kitchen, the way Jesus told his disciples back in the day, true story.

Oh, and my sister brought a nice size fridge with her! So, all set now.

"... and then I told him that I was just fine, you should have looked as his face, priceless"

“… and then I told him that I was just fine, you should have seen the look on his face, priceless”

My next posts will be about the three awesome dishes we cooked this past weekend, they were legendary, true story. Because for me, as a Mexican, the kitchen isn´t only a room in the house, it is where things happen, stories get told and family bonds in a much stronger way.

The Kitchen is where I used to hang out with mum and dad, where gossips are shared and rivalries settled.

The kitchen is where the magic happens and the ordinary becomes extraordinary.

 So, every time I come home from work exhausted, thirsty and hungry… I go to the kitchen and cook whatever comes to my mind, not whatever suffices, but something that inspires.

The ordinary... extraordinary

The ordinary… extraordinary

Ps.The dress was black and blue, assholes.

Ps2. Have you been following closely Mexican politics lately? No need to say that The Economist, New York Times, El País and more recently Financial Times have charged with all they have against the current administration. And when I said “with all they have” I meant “with all the obvious corruption and violation of human rights that the federal and regional government have allegedly committed against the Mexican citizens”. As they said in one of these media outlets “They don´t get it that they don´t get it”.

Ps3. ISIS is all over the news these days, and without question it´s a matter that should be in the top priorities of the UN Security Council, however, so is Ebola, and without any more American or European infected this disease has become uninteresting to the mainstream media.

McCartney, Kanye and #JeSuisCharlie (not really)

Let´s start with something sort of funny stuff in order to soften it down for the second topic of this post.

So, shocking news, apparently one of the last two members of the most popular band in music history, The Beatles, Paul McCartney, is going to partner with Kanye West, and will be releasing some new material. That´s sort of great news, right?  I´ve heard a cover of the first song, “Only One” and is extremely sweet and Beatle-ish, cute lyrics, charming and catchy.

This partnership represents the return of McCartney to the music industry targeting younger audiences, gosh, we really needed this comeback, there isn´t much going on in music at the moment. Oh, where´s the “shocking” part of this announcement? Well, the fact that many of Kayne´s fans didn´t know who Sir Paul McCartney is.

AFP ENTERTAINMENT-US-MUSIC-JACKSON I PEO FRA PA

What do you mean that´s not Kanye?

 True story.

Tweets like these were all over the social network:

  • “Kanye has a great ear for talent. This Paul McCartney guy gonna be huge.”
  • “I usually don’t pay much attention to Kanye West, but it’s cool he’s launched this ‘Paul McCartney’ dude’s career”
  • “Who is Paul McCartney? Some are wondering who this “upcoming” artist singing w/Kanye West is”

As one tweet said “people on Twitter are asking who Paul McCartney is and now I understand domestic terrorism”, this historic reference missed by the new generations came as a surprise for everybody.

Beatles-help-0513-banner

Charlie Hebdo

We all learnt about the tragic events that happened in Paris, France, at the Charlie Hebdo´s offices last week. 12 people were murdered as part of a terrorist attack performed by religious fundamentalists upset by the satirical cartoons published by this weekly journal.

That´s right... tolerance at its finest

That´s right… tolerance at its finest

The humour used by the cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo to make fun of hardcore Islamists was also used against Hollande´s administration, and pretty much to criticize everyone else.

"If Mahoma comes back"

“If Mahoma comes back”

The French society is confused and hurt, and still hasn´t fully digested what happened. The suspects have been hunted down by the authorities, and millions in France and around Europe have shown their support for stability and peace under the claim #JeSuisCharlie (I am Charlie). Abroad, the free press and the international community have shown its indignation and have condemned the attacks. 000_ARP40679741

Now that I think about it, this will mean the resurge of Marine Le Pen as a strong political player in the French arena, and will be pushing for stronger laws for immigrants and religious tolerance in France. Seriously, as one colleague said to me this morning, it isn´t about the number of deaths, but traditionally, Europe sees immigrants from Middle East and Africa as a threat to their societies.

‘Not in my name’ by Helen Davidson

‘Not in my name’ by Helen Davidson

We should condemn this act of terrorism, however, #JeSuisPasCharlie, because we shouldn´t praise Charlie Hebdo´s type of press, as it preaches intolerance and portraits Muslims as ignorant fundamentalists, harming those members of the French Society followers of this faith.

Ps. I don´t want you to leave feeling bad about the  world and human kind, so, enjoy the following youtube clip:

2015 Resolutions (or whatever)

After giving it some thought I realized I do have some expectations for this 2015. I mean, they aren´t quite impossible, they are just some things I´d like to accomplish this year.

optimism-nzc83trq1-87901-500-425

 

 

Optimism

Keep up the good work and a smile on my face; that ought to be my moto for this year, open my arms to the enjoyment of life and the small things it has to offer.

 

 

Read more

old-books-bible-candle

I know, all of you might think that because I´m a bright mind and, you know, smart and stuff, I must be one of those guys who reads a lot of books, but not really. I know, surprise surprise.

This year I want to and I need to read more of everything; books, reports, essays, news, articles, blogs; I want to know more about all sorts of stuff.

On the right, how I picture myself reading at night…

Fruits and veggies

Fruits-Veggies-Horizontal1

Right, I must admit it, I´m 33 and I´m not eating enough veggies and fruits, instead I´ve been eating a lot of street food and plenty of red meat, which might not be beneficial for me (still not scientific evidence to prove it, though), so this year this is changing, I will become healthier on this matter, you are what you eat, and I don´t want to turn into some kind of BBQ ribs (…mmm… if only).

Fitness

3c7I´m definitely going to start running again, or something like that, and I mean real workout, I´m not talking about running after the “Tamales-Man” (I know, I made that one up, I´m awesome). While I was with my family during the holidays I realized that I couldn´t do some stuff like “reaching for the top shelves” that easily anymore, or talk on the phone and walk at the same time without running out of air.

So, screw that, I´m going to become healthier and the next holidays I´ll go back to my hometown, look at those top shelves on the screws and say “See, you bastards, I´m back, and I will have no mercy on reaching for several items from your top compartments”, you will see.

New Zealand

New-Zealand

Yeps, that´s a moose in the South Island… look it up on Google.

Let´s face it folks, and I´m talking about you lads out there, away from the mainland, aye, you, my fellow kiwi mates, you guys miss me, and I understand that and I´m aware that I´m the only one that can change that; so this year I´ll do my best to see you guys again. Pinky promise.

That´s it folks, if I think of something else I might not let you know, however, let´s see how this year develops and wish you all an awesome 2015.

Ps. Oh, Mexico, if you were wondering, is really not doing well, the current administration is trying to figure out how to get out of the trench of manure it got itself into.

Ps2.  My mate, @gabrielsaldana shared the following image with me this morning… enjoy.

B61_LpxCIAA3FiT

Ayotzinapa; The Disappearance of the 43

So, imagine that the mayor of, I don´t know, Charleston, South Carolina, has been experiencing certain social unrest due to an administration tainted with corruption and a strong linkage with some criminal groups. Are you following?

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Now imagine that his wife is having an event, and there´s a group of students, regardless of their motifs, that are joining other civil groups to rally on an annual protest. Then the wife of this lad decides that the best way to stop them is not to actually stop them and, let´s be nice here, detain them after the event is over, she decides to tell the municipal police (together with some gang members) to just “disappear them” and “take care of these people”.

So, they follow her instructions and disappear 43 students. Now, this happened in Iguala, Guerrero, south of Mexico, on the 26th of September, where 6 people were shot death by the local police officers and members of a criminal organization, and 43 students were detained and taken into the offices of the police department of Cocula, where they were later taken by the criminal group “Guerreros Unidos” and never seen again.

Ayotzinapa_estudiantes-desaparecidos

The New Yorker referred to this event in its October 24th article as the “Crisis in Mexico: The Disappearance of the 43“, as the national and international community still don´t know what happened to these students that were trained to become teachers. According to witnesses, relatives and journalists, like John Gibler and Marcela Turati (from the weekly magazine Proceso), these students were to block highway to ask for travel funds to go to Mexico City for the annual October the 2nd march in the capital.

Long story short, they disappeared, while neither the Mexican Attorney General, Jesus Murillo Karam, nor the Secretary of the Interior, Osorio Chong, the international observers or the Human Rights bodies in Mexico have a single clue on where they were taken.

"It was the State" - they claim

“It was the State” – they claim

What is surprising is the arrogance and cynicism the current administration has handled this matter. In recent press conferences Murillo Karam has been seen upset and unease whenever the international media questions him not only on the whereabouts of the students, but also on the identities of at least 20 bodies that have been found in massive clandestine graves. Aye, that´s right, they haven´t found the 43, but they did find two tenths of bodies nobody knew were missing, and his response was “That´s for a different line of investigation, as we are currently focused on finding the students”.  Oh, by the way, 56 people have been arrested because they “might” be related to the case.

Mexicans tend to forget that people like him are public servers, and should respond to our questions because that´s their job.

Mexicans tend to forget that people like him are public servers, and should respond to our questions because that´s their job.

This crisis has forced the governor of Guerrero to “take leave” last week, pushed by the massive criticism from different authorities and NGOs of the state’s handling of the case and its political support of Abarca (Iguala´s fugitive mayor). I mean, he didn´t resign, he just asked for some “time off”, which translates to “I´m not in the mood for this right now, I´ll see you around, not now, but around”.

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People from around the world have raised their voices to demand the Mexican government to clarify and bring back the 43 students to their families. Like the following video with people from all over the globe, aware of the critical situation Mexico is going through, with a clear demand: Bring them back

I insist, even Time Magazine, media outlet that once considered Peña Nieto the savior of Mexico, now gives coverage to this possible massacre and puts Peña´s administration on the spot.

That´s right, these guys...

That´s right, these guys…

The families of the 43 missing still hope they could find them alive, honestly, knowing how criminal groups work in Mexico, I´m more pessimistic on how this crisis is going to unfold.

Sources:

Ps. The October the 2nd march commemorates the 1968 massacre of student protestors in the Tlatelolco Plaza by the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) government of Díaz Ordaz.

Ps2. Highly recommend you to watch the video on the Huffington Post link.