Friday, January 14, 2005
Cuttin the Rosca / shop responsibly at known locales
Celebration seems to go on forever in Mexico and throughout the year there are many important religious holidays of course. On Jan 6th we celebrated the Day of the Three Kings in which people get together at someone's house in order to slice up a buttery, sweet bread called "El Rosca". It's a oval shaped thing covered in candied fruit and figs and fairly tasty too. Inside there are small plastic babies which if you get one in your slice, apparently it obligates you to supply tamales for everyone at another celebration in February. Gifts are often given too as this is the Mexican day for giving and getting gifts, I dunno- something to do with 3 wise men, a baby, gifts, Frankinsense,... Anyway, Ale tells me that now more and more people celebrate with the Santa Clause idea too and that families that can afford it usually give gifts (esp. to the kids) on both days- ch-ching! Sounds good to me.
This is Mexican Hot Chocolate which if you make it in the old school way you must use a wooden thingamajig that has gear-like protrusions and loose rings of wood around it to agitate the Choco while it's melting down. It's made from processed chocolate and cinnamon and it comes in big bars. It's a bit labor-intensive as you have to spin this wood thing and not make the milk go flying, it's the way they do it and apparently no Mexican Abuela would suffer the shame of not knowing how to prepare good hot choco for their grandchildren. This is the real-deal and apparently Hot Chocolate was invented by the Indigenous folks right here in Mexico so you can thank them every time you blitz out on a cup. Anyway, we drank some chocolate and wine, ate the bread, ate candy and a good time was had by all...
Ale is involved in a program that's getting people to buy products from these small-scale indigenous farmers who live in surrounding states. Many farmers are quitting the biz for crap work in the city cause they can't supply at the low prices that huge farms can. Similar dramas are playing out all over the world to be sure. There are markets all over Mexico City on any given day and they're great, but I didn't realize that the people who sell there, don't grow the stuff. They buy from huge wholesalers and at the prices you can get things in the markets- I can't believe food can be grown so cheaply and apparently in a totally fair way, it can't. Of course, it's difficult because, like all that "fair trade" stuff, you have to charge a bit more than Nabob or Dole or General Foods and the farm-fresh, all organic, fair trade, free-range, help out the small guy mentality isn't really popular amongst those who can afford it here. I've seen one health-food type store here in a city of 20 million or more and it was pretty small and full of foreigners.
This was their first market in the front of the church from the modernized "Romeo and Juliet" movie with the massive Jesus on top. Anyway, it's a good idea anywhere to buy from these guys when you can. I know there's a farmers market in Vancouver in the summer on Saturdays at the Trout Lake Centre that has good stuff. The food is usually better and you know that most of your dough is paying for their hard work. These guys of course are in a different economic category of farmer all together. They don't have trucks or cars to get the stuff to the city and most of them had never even been before. They were really nice though and even invited me and Ale to come to Morelos state and meet their families and "eat a taco". Hopefully I'll get the chance to visit.