Urban Renewal in Aguascalientes

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The city of Aguascalientes has completed a highly imaginative and successful urban renewal project by building a huge park on top of an oil pipeline property.

Here’s the article in The Atlantic Cities… it’s well worth a read.

http://www.theatlanticcities.com/arts-and-lifestyle/2014/01/how-one-latin-america-best-urban-parks-got-built-just-3-years/8246/

San Diego – Tijuana Airport

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They’re building a bridge from San Diego directly to the Tijuana airport. It will make a huge difference in cost and convenience for travellers.

Here’s the New York Times article:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/20/business/international/tijuana-airport-parking-just-over-the-border.html?_r=0#!

Rosca de los Reyes

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I was in a Mexican bakery in Los Angeles the other day, and wondered what the big round cake was. It was a Rosca de los Reyes, the traditional cake to celebrate Epiphany on January 6th. According to tradition, that’s the day the 3 wise men arrived in Bethlehem.

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Here’s what Wikipedia says:

Roscón de reyes or rosca de reyes (kings’ ring) is a Spanish and Latin American king’s cake pastry traditionally eaten to celebrate Epiphany.
Although the name indicates that it should be round, the “rosca de reyes” generally has an oval shape due to the need to make cakes larger than 30 cm across for larger parties. Recipes vary from country to country. For decoration, fig fruit, quinces, cherries or dried and candied fruits are used.
It is traditionally eaten on January 6, during the celebration of the “Día de Reyes” (literally “Kings’ Day”), which commemorates the arrival of the three Magi or Wise Men. In most of Spain, Spanish America, and sometimes, Hispanic communities in the United States, this is the day when children traditionally get presents, which are attributed to the Three Wise Men (and not Santa Claus or Father Christmas). In Mexico before children go to bed, they leave their shoes outside filled with hay or dried grass for the animals the Wise Men ride, along with a note.
The tradition of placing a trinket (figurine of the Christ Child) in the cake is very old. The baby Jesus hidden in the bread represents the flight of the Holy Family, fleeing from King Herod’s evil plan to kill all babies that could be the prophesied messiah. Whoever finds the baby Jesus figurine is blessed and must take the figurine to the nearest church on February 2, Candlemas Day (Día de la Candelaria). In the Mexican culture, this person also has to throw a party and provide tamales and atole to the guests. In US communities with large Mexican and Mexican-American populations such as Los Angeles, San Jose, and Chicago, the celebration includes the Mexican hominy stew pozole, which is made for all one’s neighbors.
In Spain, roscones bought in pastry shops have a small figure hidden inside, either of a baby Jesus or little toys for children, as well as the more traditional dry fava bean. Whoever finds the figure is crowned “king” or “queen” of the celebration, whereas whoever finds the bean has to pay for the next year’s roscón or Epiphany party.

n Argentina, there is a similar tradition of eating the rosca on January 6, although no figurine is included. A similar version of the pastry with whole eggs baked on top is served on Easter as rosca de Pascua.
In some places, the roscón de reyes is replaced by panettone, also baked with trinkets inside.
In France, a similar pastry known as a galette de rois (made with puff pastry and almond cream) is eaten on Epiphany, and in the US, the formerly French/Spanish city of New Orleans LA continues this tradition later in the year with their Kings’ Cake, a rich yeasted bread decorated with colored sugar and eaten before Mardi Gras.

Mamey

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I’ve been fascinated with the Mamey since I first had a mamey milkshake at a Cuban restaurant some years ago. Creamy and sweet, I always look for mamey ice cream when I’m in Mexicao, and have a favorite place in Los Angeles.

It was a long time before I saw the actual fruit in a store, but I finally found it in the fruit section of a Wal-Mart in Campeche, Mexico. About half of the brown torpedo-shaped fruits were soft, like a deflated football, while the rest were as hard as rocks. Being unfamiliar with the fruit, I asked a woman customer, and she said I should get a hard one. I was disappointed to learn that my trusty travel knife couldn’t make a dent in it, so my first mamey experience was delayed.

I was recently at the Farmers Market in Los Angeles, and grabbed a soft mamey that the store owner told me was perfectly ripe. Not surprisingly, it was kind of mushy inside, but what did surprise me was the not-too-sweet carroty taste. I’m going to be tasting my ice cream more critically in the future.

Here’s a nice article in which the writer suggests that a mamey should be somewhere between firm and soft… or juuuuuust riiiiight, I suppose.

http://www.mexconnect.com/articles/3596-mamey-fruit-mexico-s-sweet-winter-treat

Cumbia Rebajada in Monterrey

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Monterrey has been the center of a Cumbia culture that has evolved since the Colombian style of music was introduced in the 1960s. Unique clothing, hair and dance styles have all developed, as has a rather interesting musical adaptation called Cumbia Rebajada. That’s where they take a regular Cumbia and slow it down.

Here’s a great article called “The Cholombians” from the Vice website:

http://www.vice.com/read/the-cholombians-731-v18n3

And here’s a Cumbia Rebajada – Give it a chance, and it’ll grow on you.:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dyGRnwcie4g