Mexican Challenges + Simple Salsa Recipe

I may have written before that whilst I’m here in México, I keep in contact with a few classes at a high school back in Wales – I’m SO glad I opted to take part in the scheme, it gives me a chance to try and get them interested in languages and in México, and maybe encourage them to take a path similar to mine – going to Uni wasn’t something I was sure about, nor was studying Spanish, but it turned out to be the best decision of my life and I can’t think of anything else I’d rather be doing.  Needless to say, I also wouldn’t be in México – another thing I wasn’t sure about until it was nearly time to apply for places – but that also turned out to be the best thing for me by far, so if I can get others to see what great opportunities studying languages offers, mission accomplished!

Anyway, I stole an idea from a friend who is doing the same thing but with a different school, and asked the classes to make me a list of challenges to complete whilst I’m here.  Here goes:

  1. Eat a ghost chilli and film it (this probably won’t happen – ghost chillis are so hot it’s actually quite dangerous (plus they’re from India, not México – a valid excuse I think!))
  2. Go to a bull fight/meet a bull
  3. Make a hot salsa and share it with friends
  4. Wear a Mexican hat/sombrero for a whole day, and take photos
  5. Take a photo at a Mexican festival
  6. Learn a tune on a Mexican instrument
  7. Play street football with the locals and photograph
  8. Do an ice bucket challenge
  9. Take a shot of tequila with salt and lime and film

The subject of my post today is the hot salsa – when we was horse riding in Puerto Vallarta, Josh and I were given a little lesson in making tortillas and different salsas, one of which was particularly easy, so here it is.

Ingredients: tomato, onion, cucumber, chilli, coriander, lime.

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Directions: Cut everything up, squeeze the lime, and eat with tortillas.  Could it be any easier?

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All colours of the Mexican flag!

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¡Buen provecho!

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The Power of Persuasion

 

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I made a friend today – this is Don Juan de Dios, hard at work at 8 in the morning preparing corn in all different ways.  The street is lined with people like Juan, all doing the same thing, starting before the sun comes up – it looks like very hard work, and I would say, because of the number of them, they can’t be making much money – but perhaps they do.  They eat a lot of corn here.

 

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That is actual corn.  It’s PINK!

 

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The large, flat leaves are what they use to wrap tamales.

 

Anyway, what I really want to write about is the smell.  To my friends and family back at home, I wish you could smell the street I live on – as weird as that sounds!  You probably don’t think corn smells of much but it does – already, to me, it’s the smell of Mexico.

Sometimes a scent is more evocative than a photo or an image. It is a primer for the deflagration of sensation, emotions, desires, uncontrollable atmospheres, deja-vus that flood and wrap us like honey, until they make us drown in an unrepeatable moment of well-being… olfactory hallucinations that lead us anywhere: to the North of any South, to the East of any West…

Scents are powerful when it comes to triggering memory, but, I think, probably quite overlooked.  Everyone has certain songs, places, pictures or words that remind them of a time or event or person, but I wonder how many people can think of significant scents?  Maybe it’s something you don’t know about until you’re there, and you smell someone’s perfume as they walk past.  The only thing I can think of at the moment is my best friend’s house when I was in primary school – I can remember it even though I haven’t been there in years, and I’ll probably never come across it anywhere else.  I’m just wondering whether that house still smells the same even though the family have moved out, or if their new house bears a resemblance.

I hope, in years to come, I’ll have lots of memories attached to scents, even better if they’re ones I’m likely to come across again (unfortunately in England, sweetcorn really doesn’t smell of anything)!

What are your favourite smells?  What do they remind you of?

Odours have a power of persuasion stronger than that of words, appearances, emotions, or will. The persuasive power of an odour cannot be fended off, it enters into us like breath into our lungs, it fills us up, imbues us totally. There is no remedy for it.

Patrick Süskind

40 Vegetarian Days

Lent comes providentially to reawaken us, to shake us from our lethargy. – Pope Francis

 

I’m not religious and I don’t normally observe lent (and when I do, I usually cave within a week) but this year I’m doing something which I’ve been wanting to do anyway, so hopefully I’ll see it through to the end (and beyond).  Even though it’s possible to make a lifestyle change whenever you feel like it, I quite like the idea of starting at a designated time, especially since lent is seen as a time for renewal.  The first benefit I’ve noticed is that my housemate and my mum are both doing the same thing at the same time, so it won’t only be something for me personally but it will be something to share with them.  Since it’s meat that we’re giving up, I’m really looking forward to cooking and eating together, trying out new recipes and finding and recommending things we like.

I’m not planning to be permanently vegetarian, but even after lent finishes I hope to cut down substantially on meat and animal products.  It will be challenging, I do eat meat almost every day but I think the hardest part will be consistently cooking interesting, varied and satisfying meals (especially ones that will keep my non-veggie boyfriend happy), but I just can’t see myself missing meat all that much and dying for a bacon cheese burger by the time lent is up.

It’s not only the horrific things that go on in the meat and dairy industry that push me towards vegetarianism – it’s partly that, but I also believe it is a healthy choice as well as an ethical one.  On top of that, I can’t help but find vegetarian food irresistible.  Going into a butcher’s shop doesn’t exactly tempt you to buy, but seeing fresh, colourful fruit and vegetables on a market stall?  If only there was more room in my fridge.