Deciphering Mexico City’s Metro Icons

Mexico Affordable Travel

For anyone who has wondered about the strange symbols that mark the subway stops in Mexico City, the answers are finally revealed… I only figured out pyramid symbol at the Pino Suárez station, and the observatory symbol at the Observatorio staton.

Here’s the article from Citylab:

http://www.citylab.com/design/2016/04/deciphering-mexico-citys-metro-icons/479796/?utm_source=SFFB

The Backlash to Mexico City’s High Line-Style Park

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It sounds as if the critics have a good point, but this could be one of the nicest urban park spaces in the world… Right through Colonia Roma, my favorite neighborhood in Mexico City. Or anywhere else, for that matter.

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Here’s the article from CityLab’s website… These photos are taken from the article.

East LA Meets Napa 2015

AltaMed’s wonderful East LA Meets Napa fundraiser event celebrated its 10th anniversary on Friday evening, and once again, I was lucky enough to be invited.

Established over 40 years ago, AltaMed is Southern California’s leading non-profit health care system delivering integrated primary care services, senior care programs and health and human services for the entire family.

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The theme of the event is to showcase Southern California’s best Mexican restaurants, and the best Latino-owned wineries. It’s an inspired combination, and everyone put their best foot forward. Once again, the event sold out early, as I’m sure it will next year, judging by the happy faces of the attendees.

As in the past, the event was held at Union Station. When I first heard about it, I imagined we would be dodging commuters who were headed for the trains, but the airy courtyard of this historic building provides for a free flow of guests trying out the interesting foods and wines, as well as those who came to dance to the live salsa band.

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Each of the participating restaurants brought one or two of their signature dishes. Especially memorable was the Cochinita Pibil from Doña Rosa, served on one of the most perfect tortillas I’ve eaten this year (for the record, I’ve eaten a lot of great tortillas this year.) Rocio’s Mexican Kitchen offered something daring (and delicious) by combining a Paella (the classic Spanish dish) with her distinctive Mole Poblano. Chichén Itzá, served their Yucatan special Panuchos, King Taco served, yes, tacos, and El Cholo once again brought their spectacular green corn tamales. Casa Oaxaca had people laughing about their grasshopper salsa… until they tasted the delicious flavor.

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There were wonderful wines from Alex Sotelo Cellars, Delgadillo Cellars and Trujillo Wines. It was a temptation to visit LLamas Family Wines, San Antonio Winery, Ceja Vineyards and others, but I can only cover a certain amount of ground in one evening. I have those to look forward to in the future.

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Once again, the event was flawlessly organized, and it was a very enjoyable evening. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of it. My list of must-visit restaurants has grown (in fact, I’ve already visited one since Friday evening) and I’ll be sure to share my experiences in the coming months.

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The Chinese-Mexican Cuisine Born Of U.S. Prejudice

I just had to lift this article from NPR… I’m heading for the border to try this great sounding cuisine as soon as I can:

From NPR… including the photos –

If you ask people in the city of Mexicali, Mexico, about their most notable regional cuisine, they won’t say street tacos or mole. They’ll say Chinese food. There are as many as 200 Chinese restaurants in the city.

North of the border, in California’s rural Imperial County, the population is mostly Latino, but Chinese restaurants are packed. There are dishes in this region you won’t find anywhere else, and the history behind them goes back more than 130 years.

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The Salcedo family sits in a coveted booth at the Fortune Garden restaurant in the city of El Centro, north of the border. The mother and three adult sisters are almost drooling, waiting for their food to show up. They come from Yuma, Ariz.— over an hour away — twice a month just to eat here.

A huge side order arrives, light-yellow deep-fried chilis, a dish I’ve never seen. Then a salt-and-pepper fish, which the Salcedos describe as “Baja style,” with lots of bell peppers, chilis and onions. But have you ever heard of Baja-style dishes in a Chinese restaurant?

Mayra Salcedo explains, “It’s like a fusion, Mexican ingredients with the Chinese. It’s very different than if you go to any other Chinese restaurant, Americanized Chinese restaurant.”

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“When they order, they don’t say barbecue pork,” says Fortune Garden co-owner Jenissa Zhou. “They say carnitas — carnitas coloradas.” That’s “red pork” in Spanish.

Zhou came to the U.S. from southern China. Her husband, Carlos, is from Mexicali, where he worked in Chinese restaurants. It took her a while to get used to her customers’ taste buds.

“You can see, every table, they have lemon and hot sauce,” Zhou says. “In Chinese food, we don’t eat lemon.”

Those fried yellow chilis on almost every table, chiles asados, are served in a lemon sauce with lots of salt — kind of a margarita flavor. If you believe the rumors, some chefs marinate pork in tequila.

It’s not just on the plate where cultures combine. In the Fortune Garden kitchen, the cooks speak to each other in Cantonese. The waiters speak Spanish and English.

“The restaurants you see now are remnants of the Chinese population that used to fill the U.S.-Mexico borderlands in Mexicali and in Baja California,” explains Robert Chao Romero, a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles. He teaches in both the Chicano and Asian-American studies departments and wrote the book The Chinese in Mexico.

And just why were the Chinese there? Because of the Chinese Exclusion Act.

Spurred by anti-Chinese laborer sentiment among American workers, the 1882 law banned immigrants from China from entering the U.S. Tens of thousands went to Cuba, South America and Mexico instead. Many settled along the U.S.-Mexico border, becoming grocers, merchants and restaurant owners. Others managed to cross illegally and make lives in the U.S., including in Imperial County.

“The Chinese invented undocumented immigration from Mexico,” says Romero. He says they were smuggled in with the help of guides hired to lead them across the border. “Smuggling with false papers, on boats and trains — the infrastructure for that was all invented by the Chinese.”

Today’s Border Patrol grew out of the Mounted Guard of Chinese Inspectors, created to keep Chinese immigrants from entering the U.S. At the same time, the Mexican government welcomed Chinese immigrants to go to the sparsely populated border region, to work on farms and in mines and canals.

The Chinese-Mexican cuisine this history begot is even more prominent on the Mexican side of the border, as I learn while taking a drive over the border with George Lim. He lives in the U.S. but commutes every day to Mexicali. Lim helps run one of the city’s oldest: El Dragon.

Why cross the border every day to run a restaurant? Lim explains that Mexicali’s population is nearly 1 million, which dwarfs the rural population on the California side of the border.

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“Just doing the math, you’re going to have a lot more customers here in Mexico,” he explains. “And I hate to say it, but people in Mexico are more sophisticated than in Imperial about Chinese food.”

That sophistication may come from decades of people eating Mexican-influenced Chinese food here. Once, it was a necessity: Chinese cooks used Mexican ingredients like chilis, jicama and certain cuts of meat, because that was what was available. Now it’s part of a culinary legacy.

There’s a new dish at El Dragon: arrachera beef, served with asparagus and black bean sauce. Lim says that’s the best meat for tacos, a clear Mexican influence: “Asparagus could be both Chinese and Mexican, but the sauce, the black bean, that’s Chinese.”

I try out a kind of Mexican-Chinese-American hybrid: an egg roll with shrimp, cilantro and cream cheese that seems like it shouldn’t be good, but is. And at El Dragon, they put avocado in the fried rice.

Lim says people still come from China to work in Mexicali restaurants, and sometimes these cooks move up north, to work in Chinese kitchens in Imperial County.

“One of the goals is to go to the U.S., have a better life for you and for your kids, give them a better education, better opportunity, maybe earning dollars instead of pesos,” he says.

The same reasons, in other words, that drew their ancestors here from southern China 130 years ago.

This story first ran on KQED’s The California Report. Vickie Ly helped with reporting and translation. The series “California Foodways” is supported in part by Cal Humanities. Lisa Morehouse, an independent journalist, produced this story during a fellowship at Hedgebrook, a residency for female writers.

Deportees in Tijuana

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A large number of Mexicans deported from the U.S. end up staying in Tijuana. Here’s a fascinating article from National Geographic that presents the statistics in human terms. It’s a timely issue… There are also some great photos in the article.

Here’s the link:

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/special-features/2014/11/141121-tijuana-deportees-immigrants-mexico-border/