Food Down & Bottoms Up to Tradition

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This Thanksgiving while hanging with the familia, I was hit with the sudden flash-back to the 80’s. My uncle pulled out a bottle of Riunite wine and offered to pop it (or maybe it’s unscrew…not sure) open. To me this bottle was richer in flavor than any other fancy Malbec or Merlot we could have tried. And by flavor, I mean it held a hint of an earlier time when my parents, aunts and uncles were larger than life and we just went along for the ride. I recalled a Spanish version of this commercial campaign ending in something like “Riunite-te-te”- a bit different than this one. My memory may have lapsed some but the tradition of busting out the Riunite bottle for a special occasion must have stuck with Tio.

For the most part when it comes to a Latin Christmas, the tamale (in all its various styles) is usually on the table amongst some form of rice dish and sweet goodies. But there are also those quirky things that randomly appear year over year that become tradition naturally. Lasting traditions are ushered by pop culture, music, location, influential personalities and of course outstanding food!

DyC asked a few people the question:

When you reunite (or shall we say Riunite) with family this holiday season, what will you see on or near your table? 

Blablabal

Laura (MX style holiday)

My mom and dad always say ‘pansa llena, corazón contento’. So bring on the pozole, menudo, asado de puerco and can’t forget tamales and buñuelos!

Noe Garcia (MX style holiday)

Noe (MX style holiday)

Nothing like coming in out of the cold and rolling up a fresh hot tortilla to sop up your caldo or borracho beans…I can smell it now.

Carmen Cubas (Salvadorian style holiday)

Carmen (Salvadorian style holiday)

This year we’re having chiles rellenos for Christmas dinner. We start off by greeting everyone, telling them how much we missed each other… drinking a little wine or sangria…[catching-up] … again drinking some more wine or sangria …when suddenly someone puts on music and everyone begins to dance or sing. I love the nostalgia! You can’t help but smile, dance and drink every holiday.

Annie Meyzen (Peruvian style holiday)

Annie (Peruvian style holiday)

We have panettone (I never liked it as a kid but I would still have to eat it >_<) and of course there is always salsa- merengue dancing and drinks galore!

And as an honorary Latina from Trinidad (hey- it’s just above Venezuela!), we threw this one in the mix. We were surprised they had something very similar to the tamale called pastelles and music tinged with Spanish called Parang!

Pinda (Trini style holiday)

Pinda (Trini style holiday)

For drinks we have sorrel, ginger beer and ponche de creme. For food, pastelles, ham and black (fruit) cake are very traditional. All this just really brings me back childhood memories of family gatherings. Pastelles and Parang!

Miss Lady G Opens Up

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This week we chatted with Gwen Echenegucia of Miss Lady G Designs who’s art was recently a part of a public digital art exhibit curated by Diesel. Two of her designs were selected for the Reboot Campaign (#DIESELREBOOT) which displayed at the Galeries Lafayette in Paris. We wanted to find out more about what has led to her new online shop and design endeavors.

Gwen’s story starts in the mid-eighties in Venezuela. Daughter to a master artists and craftsman, Gwen’s childhood was engrossed in all things creative. Her father, who studied Fine Arts in school, painted, taught others to paint, designed and crafted furniture as well as carved sculptures. This foundation engrained art into Gwen’s life and career choices. She is now Art Director at Grupo Gallegos in Huntington Beach and runs the Miss Lady G Designs shop.

Her skateboard designs were what set things off. Gwen continued to tap into her dad’s expertise even from miles away. “The skateboard wood is a little weird because it has some sort of coating that you don’t really notice until you try to apply something to it. So when I was trying to stain certain things to be a different shade of brown the paint wouldn’t take.”, she said. “I would call up my dad and he would be like ‘Oh you need to spray it and then you can put whatever you want on top of that.” Boom. It worked every time.

Now the collection has expanded to include apparel, leather goods and tech accessories using her original designs. One of those designs, Diablo, may seem a bit creepy and far from Gwen’s bubbly personality but she explained where this idea came from. “En Venezuela, there is this town called Yare, and once a year on the week of Corpus Christi,  they have a week-long festival. At the end of the festival they have the dancing devils of Yare who dress up in red devil outfits and wear paper mache devil masks. They go around dancing in town and end up in front of the church. The devils wear rosaries and Catholic symbols. Basically this signifies the triumph of good over evil.”

When asked about her style and whether or not Miss Lady G Designs are similar to her everyday look, the answer was absolutely a yes. Each of the items found in the shop reflect Gwen’s natural Cali cool and chic wardrobe…oh, and are all budget friendly. “I like things that are multi-useful.”, she said. “I know it’s going to sound funny but, being that I am not rich, we have to be resourceful with the clothes and accessories that we have…[It’s all about] having clothes that you can mix and match. So the shirts you can wear with like jeans and maybe tomorrow you can wear it with some cool leggings.” She added that the gold ink give her designs a bit of pop that can take a look from day to night by simply throwing on some killer heels.

Gwen’s next collection might include one of her most intimate designs in terms of inspiration. After going to one of her favorite artist’s, Garry Baseman, exhibit one Friday this year, she was suddenly compelled to draw after being on a long hiatus. The feeling was so strong that she even missed a friend’s birthday lunch over the weekend because she felt so inspired to draw.  That Monday however, she understood that it wasn’t just the art exhibit that kindled her urge to draw again. That evening, she found out of her father’s passing on that prior Friday. Gwen speaks candidly, “Interestingly what I was motivated to draw was an owl. Owl’s mean knowledge. So he said ‘Bye’ the best way he knew how. It was my inheritance.”

We will have to wait on that owl until it is ready to be released. For now, there is plenty of fresh goodness, infused with character and roots on the Miss Lady G Designs shop.

Gwen promises each item ships out with "happy, satisfied vibes".

Gwen promises each item ships out with “happy, satisfied vibes”.

Recuerdos DYC: Movie Night 1968

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Fred Herzog: Mexico City with Chevy, 1963

Striping away the 3rd person speak here and getting down to little ol’me, I, Julieta, write this post on #TBT to roll it back to 1960’s border towns and Mexico. Today I was inspired by Fortino Mario Alfonso Moreno Reyes (AKA Cantinflas). I watched my first Cantinflas film, Por Mis Pistolas, recently and was so amused by his masterful double entendres and quick witted advancements with the ladies. The Spanglish film itself makes light of border issues, land rights and misunderstandings between cultures that were very real during this era. My entertainment turned into intrigue on what it would have been like to actually see this as a new release in a theater in Matamoros (the city where my parents met and dated for the first time) or any other border city for that matter. The US/Mexico border was and remains a crossing of cultures. Here is my take on things one would have seen in these parts while strolling the streets before catching a flick for a DYC date night in 1968.

Noche de Cine

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Taking a Look: Lido Pimienta

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DyC ran into this intimate interview with Columbian-born singer/songwriter Lido Pimienta. It was a look inside her genuine life experiences and the emotions that pour into her music. She received high acclaim for her debut EP Color and rightly expressing her artistic spectrum, she dressed herself in bright hues, mixed patterns and native accents.

Although some artists are not into intentional fashion statements, we enjoy exploring their style choices and one day we hope to bring more stories behind the garments or accessories of people we connect with. Here are some look-alike key pieces we loved.

Note: You’re probably better off heading to South America for that poncho. You will save money but more importantly, you will gain an experience to go with it.

Street Signs

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Fresh off of our trip to New York, we felt compelled to hit the streets and do some more exploratory walking with some in between driving of course. The initial thought was to capture some cool people in their 1st day of fall best. We were quickly brought back to reality- it’s Houston, it’s still pretty hot and cars rule. Better luck next month on that photo story. 

What we captured, however, were colorful streets, reclaimed facades and hints of art history. Starting in the Montrose area and working our way east, these are just a few of Houston’s finest art works…past…and present.

Oh no! We’re not done here. There is plenty more where that came from. Más to come!

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WAZZAP Houston

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If you haven’t heard already, the Red Bull PanamériKa y Bombon Especial WAZZUP TOUR is zapateando through Houston tonight at Fox Hollow (4617 Nett St.)

Representing just a few of Mexico’s finest talent and pachanga taste makers, Mexican Institute of Sound (MIS) and Los Master Plus, the tour started in Dallas this Thursday, followed by nightly shows in Austin, Houston and ending tomorrow in New Orleans.

Not knowing much about Los Master Plus myself, I caught an interview with El Comanche, 1/2 of Los Master Plus, this week on KPFT 90.1 Son Pacifica and did some quick homework. What I found? These dudes (El Comanche + Larry Mon) are hilariously entertaining, they dress in the sharpest norteño band inspired gear and don’t take themselves too seriously. The pair not only DJ but they produce, play guitar and sing, making them the whole enchilada. These Guadalajara hometown boys conceived the idea of working together while goofing off singing over music at a local bar. Now their cover and original songs have gone viral with the help of some quirky YouTube videos and lots of fans.

Get familiar with their antics here and see you tonight!

Good Morning!

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Last year while while visiting LA’s historical Olvera Street we dropped in to try some authentic mole at Cielito Lindo (<–Warning: turn down your speakers if you click on this one…ayay!). Amidst all the fiesta decor we savored some pretty solid Mexican fair and had some of the best iced coffee we’ve ever had. We just happened to make friends with our waitress who dropped us some inside info. The secret is piloncillo!

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I finally got around to prepping a brew last night and the smoky, caramely, earthy result did not fail. The recipe is so simple! Not sure why I waited a year to recreate this magic!

If you get a moment, make it and make your morning!

Borrowed & Modified from Food52.com

 Serves 2-4

Coffee Base

  • 2/3 cups coarsely ground coffee
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons [shaved piloncillo]
  1. Put ingredients in a quart jar and stir.
  2. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
The Finished Drink

  • milk, half and half, or cream
  • ice
  1. Pour the coffee base through a sieve or strainer into a bowl, then strain back into jar for easy storage.
  2. For each drink: Fill a tall glass halfway with ice. Pour in coffee until glass is about 3/4 full, and add milk/half and half/cream to taste.
  3. Die of happiness.

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Reconnecting: Back to center with Dama y Catrin

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After a ten month hiatus, I decided to give my reporting chops a little dust off. It’s time to flex my fingers and tap these keys for the love of DyC. I have to admit, I had my doubts about returning. When you get passed a certain age, it’s hard to do things just for the passion without physical payment. Running a blog takes dedication, organization and focus on your mission. Most of all, it takes time.

I felt it was worth another shot. In the coming months, you may see some things change visually, as I am shopping around for a fresh design, and you may see some new writers pop-up. It’s important for me to stay true to what I set out to do in the first place- showcase progressive concepts laced with Latinoisms. New blood will help bring in new perspectives! As an added layer to this, I would like to peek inside Latin America and see what cool new things our neighbors are up to. I am sure we’ll appreciate that on our side of the world.

I hope you will come back and tell your friends if you see something on DyC that strikes your fancy. I will leave you with this.

DyC-I'M BACK!

Wedding Wisdom

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Hi!  Dama y Catrin here…maybe you’ve missed me.  I’m the friendly blog that was popping up weekly early this summer but vanished as it got hotter.  I can totally explain…You see, La Dama herself (me!) is getting hitched!  If you have been or are planning on getting married at some point in your life, let me tell you- the planning is no piece of cake!  Even the simplest of weddings takes commitment, patience and many follow-ups!

To make-up for the long disconnect, I thought I would offer up some wedding tips for the gals and some of the guys out there planning.  Maybe one day they will come in handy.

  1. Read Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Got Married By Gary Chapman.  Work out the relationship kinks before you say “I do”.  This short paperback book brought out tough topics of conversation that we would have otherwise avoided or never thought to speak about.  Easy read with lesson exercises.  Do it! Boys, don’t be shy. It’s for your future wifey and happiness.
  2.  Include tias and other important family members in the wedding by having them read at the ceremony.  I hit a dilemma when I ran out of ceremony padrino/a spaces so rather than leave people out, I incorporated special readings in the ceremony script.  It gives the rev/priest/minister/etc. a break and allows people to get involved.
  3. Make appointments before going to look at dresses.  I thought I could just show up and casually try on dresses (wedding & bridesmaid) but I found out the hard way.  You are a second class citizen at most places if you have no appointment….Oh! and when you go, bring a limited number of guests that know your style and can really help you weigh the options because there will be many-many!
  4. Don’t feel bad if your guy is not as into the details as much as you are.  Make sure he contributes to the planning- yes- but don’t expect him to get excited about tablecloths.  Give him specific tasks to tackle like the tuxedo rentals and music.
  5. For the fashion adventurous dama y catrin, you can get chucks (aka Chuck Taylor Converse) custom embroidered direct from Converse online.  After searching embroidery places everywhere, we settled on embroidered shoe bags made locally instead.  Most places can’t handle the direct printing to shoe job.  Sidebar note, Shoe Carnival has the lowest prices on the  Cons. 
  6. Roses are a good flower choice.  They are classic and always in season!  Sam’s has kick-ass prices…like 15 bucks for 100!  Just make sure you get the special order flowers that will guarantee availability.  Order direct from a floral department manager vs. random employee.  I didn’t and may have to wait until the week of the wedding to confirm in-store stock.
  7.  Get a wedding planner if you can!  Or ask a best friend to be your main planning lead to help manage the load.  I pulled in a good friend and am soo relieved I had him there!  He made calls when I couldn’t and scored me some yummy Italian food with lots of add-ins for a pretty sweet price.  I can’t share my friend but I can share the fact that Aaron from Maggiano’s at the Domain in Austin has got it together.  Best service ever!
  8. Tap into your friends.  I used friends for my invitation design, printing, photography and music.  If I am going to pay someone or support, I’d rather it be people I know.  That said, if you need design or printing I know where to send you.  For photography, call Celina at SiLOVE Photography!  I’ll solute music contributors in future posts…too good! ;)
  9. Don’t go cheap on the mariachis and go hear them live.  If you are Mexican, mariachis over dinner is a must.  I was about to hire a group because they were low cost but when I secretly visited them on a gig, I found out one of the musicians likes to use a pitcher as his cup of beer and the chic singers don’t mind carrying a Negro Modelo in-hand during sets.  Not to mention, the voices didn’t carry over the music itself.  I was underwhelmed.  Anywho, if you are going to entertain with mariachis be prepared to dish out starting at $450 or so.  It will be worth it.
  10. Make a playlist of music for your DJ.  There is a formula for Mexican wedding music that seems to be a secret.  I scanned the interwebs for solid Mexican wedding playlists that hit the mark on my previous experiences as a wedding guest but found zero that fit the bill.  Most were watered down “Spanish” song lists including the likes of Ricky Martin and such.  For this final tip, I wanted to hand you a plug and play list I put together on Spotify.  It’s missing the salsa styles but it is a true blend of Texican sounds, if you want that sort of thing…

Please enjoy the music:  Mexican Wedding Tunes

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