El que busca, encuentra
El pasado paso pero no desaparecio
Oh yes, I love tamales. I love all kinds of tamales. There is no better time to enjoy them than during the Fiestas Decembrinas (December holidays). This is a really quick post with a really quick video about our families that get together to catch up on each others’ lives over the building of a mountain of tamales. You can’t just eat one tamal, even when you try.
Even my baby nephew got in on the action except… his was more of a sculpture session. Because we are increasingly mobile and my family is spread out, we gather once a year and tamales are usually part of the celebration. This Christmas Eve 2015, we made tamales of chicken in red chile sauce and poblano pepper strips (rajas) with cheese. We also made Chopes which are sweet small tamales using the same masa (corn meal mix) but with fruit and nuts added. They are delicious! I should have thought ahead and videotaped a step-by-step but… too late; we were caught up in our creations. This was us during the process. Merry Christmas everyone (although I also pulled out my aluminum pole for Festivus, the delicate family balance…. hmmm…)!!
Some of us with Latin American roots already started the annual season of tamales by having more than one tamal on Thanksgiving or made turkey tamales from leftovers… which got me thinking… Every year my Mexican belly gobbles up tamales de frijol (of beans), pollo en salsa verde (chicken in green sauce), puerco (pork), res (beef), chopes (sweet coconut & pineapple ones that my mom loved as a child and still makes for us), rajas de chile (poblano pepper slices), etc., etc. I’ve had them Northern Mexican style, Oaxacan Mexican style, Colombian style, Peruvian and so on.
So what if we decided to actually dedicate the whole month to trying out a new tamal flavor each day? As long as we don’t have to shell out the Williams-Sonoma price ($54 for 3 dozen), I would sooooo do it. Except, it is not on my paleo plan :P.
Oh, and by the way, tamal is one single corn dough like tube or square filled with yummy anything and wrapped in a corn husk or banana leaf or other natural wrap depending on the region. Tamales is the plural. Tamale is a word that seems to only exist in the U.S. which is gaining acceptance but is still not the singular of tamales.
So how many different styles and fillings of tamales can you name?
Saturday, August 22nd was a night of passion and tradition at the Laredo Little Theatre. Illeana Gomez, a native Laredoan, was featured in an annual Flamenco show held at the Laredo Little Theatre. I was curious when my friend invited me go because I was unfamiliar with the tremendous talent. I had heard the name as part of a small group of recognized Flamenco dancers originating from our border community. The opening piece, though, was a treat by local lovers of Flamenco – the Altagracia Azios Garcia Castanet Ensemble, composed of local women who play them for the love of musical art that castanets produce.
All I can say is that it was an extraordinary show – every step was punctuated by another “Bravo!” Dance is not my forte but this show was awesome! A big congratulations to the talented Kayla Lyall, Manuel Gutierrez, Alejandro Pais Iriart, Carlos Menchaca, Jose Cortes and Laredo’s own Illeana Gomez.
That awesomeness was marred only by one little annoyance: the squeaky seats.
The Laredo Little Theater literally is a small-sized theater so no seat is a bad seat to watch whatever magic may be on stage. Personally, I found the seats comfortable and the squeakiness was not too distracting but as part of the renovation, new seats will be installed. What our eyes usually miss, though, is the wear and tear of the years of service the seats have provided. The fun surprise were the gobs of gum accumulated under seats, on the carpet and even walls after seeing decades of theatre goers – gross but a fact of public seating. The interior renovations will be a welcomed brightening to one of the few non-profits bringing quality plays and performances to Laredo audiences. Sponsors ($250 Seat Patron) are still being sought for the new seats and an explanation of what will happen to the ones removed follow in the video:
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While the legalization of marijuana campaign continues to gain steam as multiple states, including Colorado and Washington (having moved past the “medical” portion of the argument and included “recreational use” as part of their revamped laws), many in Texas believed that the Lone Star State would not be considering any form of legalization soon. Texas remains one of the true bastions of far-right traditionalism and has furthered the move to the outer limit of right conservatism under Tea Party rule. Therefore, it was a bit of a shock when House Bill 2165, an act that would completely legalize adult use of marijuana, was proposed and actually gained some traction.
The bill was not the only marijuana decriminalization proposed this legislative session (see House Bill 507), but it was the only one that touted full toleration of “weed” for adults.
The statute was the creation of David Simpson, a Christian conservative Republican out of Longview, Texas, with strong ties to the Tea Party. During an interview with the Texas Observer in May 2015, Simpson rationalized, “Right now, you can’t legally use the plant responsibly to help people with PTSD, epilepsy, cancer or pain.” He added, “We need to change that.”
As is the case with the vast majority of conservative Christian politicians and their supporters, the separation of church and state tends to be a mere suggestion and Simpson’s reasoning for the legislation had a religious foundation. During the same interview, Simpson was quoted as saying, “I don’t believe that when God made marijuana, he made a mistake government needs to fix.”
As bizarre as that may sound to some non-Christian conservative right-wingers, one thing is for sure: according to Simpson, one can now add divinity as a legitimate argument for the decriminalization of marijuana. The masterful blending of church and state, Texas style.
And while the initial justifications are far more accepted and utilized in the fight for marijuana decriminalization, it is likely “pot” pundits will accept any reason they can if it means it will help the cause. Bill 2165 made it out of the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee by a 5-2 vote but met its end in the House Calendars Committee: a graveyard for bills that lawmakers do not wish to tackle publicly. It’s a failsafe area used by the government to avoid “hot topic” issues deemed not ready for public debate. Buried alongside 2165 was HB 507 (Sponsor: El Paso Democrat Joe Moody), which would have made possession of less than 1 once of cannabis a civil offense.
Regardless of the outcome of both pieces of legislation, the fact that two Texas bills harvested support to decriminalize marijuana suggests that lawmakers will have to debate this issue in the near future.
What are your thoughts on the legalization of marijuana in Texas?