Culinary Backstreets: An heirloom tortilla revival in Mexico City

“People think it’s a bad thing to be a tortilla-maker,” says Santiago Muñoz. “That’s the mentality we have to change. It should be a point of pride.” Santiago, 25, has spread out two dozen corn cobs, called mazorcas, on the table at the Mexico City warehouse of Maizajo, an heirloom corn tortilla company. The kernels are varied in shape and color: reds, yellows, blues, purples; some narrow, others wide. The diversity of the mazorcas on the table represents the ancestral knowledge of Mexican corn farmers…Continue Reading “Culinary Backstreets: An heirloom tortilla revival in Mexico City”

Culinary Backstreets: Comixcal, Deeply Oaxacan

I wrote for Culinary Backstreets about Comixcal, a Oaxacan restaurant in Santa Maria la Ribera. As Oaxacan food takes hold from Mexico City to Amsterdam, the owners of Comixcal seek to stay true to tradition, and offer Oaxacan food as Oaxacans eat it. The restaurant became a basecamp for sending donations to Oaxaca after a devastating series of earthquakes in September. Comixcal is more than a restaurant- it’s a model of how communities in Mexico City can support rural Mexico. “‘There are two Oaxacan foods…Continue Reading “Culinary Backstreets: Comixcal, Deeply Oaxacan”

Sierra Magazine: Making Gum in the Mayan Rainforest

“I started working at 16,” Alfredo Ramírez says, as he sizes up the chicozapote tree in front of us. “I’m 56 now. That’s 40 years of harvesting chicle.” Ramírez has led us off a gravel road and into the rainforest in Tres Garantías, Mexico. The chicozapote tree (Manilkara zapota) is over 50 feet tall, its upper branches disappearing out of sight into the forest canopy. Mosquitoes swarm around him, but Ramírez remains focused on the task at hand. Here in Quintana Roo, in the southeast…Continue Reading “Sierra Magazine: Making Gum in the Mayan Rainforest”

Yes! Magazine: Friends Transform Vacant Building Into Popular Community Center

“It’s a cool Sunday afternoon in Ecatepec, Mexico, and a crowd is forming along the sidewalk. A slow drumbeat rises above the sound of honking taxis and chatter as four dancers step out and begin moving to the rhythm of an African beat. Up and down nearby streets, small businesses selling everything from stationery to carnitas, or pork tacos, are interspersed with shuttered storefronts and abandoned businesses. At night, store owners pull down heavy metal curtains to keep out intruders. The dancers are part of a…Continue Reading “Yes! Magazine: Friends Transform Vacant Building Into Popular Community Center”

CityLab Latino: Las técnicas arquitectónicas tradicionales pueden ser la solución al reconstruir México

Escribí en CityLab Latino sobre los arquitectos mexicanos que están usando técnicas vernaculas para reconstuir comunidades después de los sismos de septiembre. “A tres meses de los devastadores terremotos en México –sucedidos el 7 y 19 de septiembre–, miles de familias mexicanas siguen sin hogar. Tan solo en el estado de Oaxaca, 7,500 casas quedaron inhabitables tras el sismo del 7 de septiembre. El gobierno de Enrique Peña Nieto está promoviendo el autoconstrucción y está dando menos de 6,500 dólares a cada familia que perdió…Continue Reading “CityLab Latino: Las técnicas arquitectónicas tradicionales pueden ser la solución al reconstruir México”

Los Angeles Review of Books: On the Front Lines of Climate Change

I reviewed Todd Miller’s new book Storming the Wall for the Los Angeles Review of Books. “In 2015, as European nations repelled African and Middle Eastern migrants arriving on their shores, the United States was engaged in its own naval operations to ward off mass migration from the Caribbean. With current White House Chief of Staff John Kelly then at the helm of US Southern Command, more than 500 members of the joint military and homeland security task force ran a simulation designed to “prevent…Continue Reading “Los Angeles Review of Books: On the Front Lines of Climate Change”

Culinary Backstreets: Merendero Biarritz

“My mother had many celebrity customers,” says Luis Enrique Mejía Rosales, the son of Merendero Biarritz’s founder, Esther Rosales. “When they were opening the storefront, the famous [Mexican] bull-fighter Luis Procuna came up to my mother and said, ‘Call it Biarritz!’ He had come back from a tour in Europe and had fallen in love with a woman in Biarritz.” So, in 1956, when the family opened a storefront on Doctor Velasco Street, they called it Merendero Biarritz. Merendero, because they sold “meriendas,” nighttime snacks….Continue Reading “Culinary Backstreets: Merendero Biarritz”

Guardian Cities: 6,000 complaints … then the quake: the scandal behind Mexico City’s 225 dead

I have an investigative piece up on Guardian Cities today with David Adler. We reported on why new and recently remodeled buildings in Mexico City came down in the quake. What we found is that the city government turns a blind eye to thousands of citizen complaints about building code violations. Meanwhile, the real estate market is booming, and condominium developers keep building costs low, and profits high. “Many of the buildings that collapsed in the earthquake that killed 225 people in Mexico City last…Continue Reading “Guardian Cities: 6,000 complaints … then the quake: the scandal behind Mexico City’s 225 dead”

CityLab Latino: Las mexicanas se quedan cada vez con menos alternativas de movilidad

“Cuando llegaron a México, Uber, Cabify y otros servicios se veían como una salvación. Ser mujer en Ciudad de México es saber la inseguridad que presentan los taxis comunes. Conocidos son los casos de robo, secuestro y violación en los taxis de la calle, por lo que la opción de pedir un vehículo en una aplicación, donde aparecían las placas y la identidad del chofer, nos dio un mínimo de seguridad. Pero poco a poco esta sensación ha ido desapareciendo. Opacada por el devastador terremoto…Continue Reading “CityLab Latino: Las mexicanas se quedan cada vez con menos alternativas de movilidad”

Culinary Backstreets: Post-Quake Recovery, One Meal at a Time

In the past five years, Mexico City has flourished as an international tourist destination, and the Roma and Condesa neighborhoods are the city’s crown jewels for travelers. A typical weekend in bohemian Roma or posh Condesa might include a late lunch of tuna tostadas at Contramar, followed by a drink at Cervecería del Barrio, a bar and restaurant overlooking the scenic Plaza Cibeles. Nightclubs and bars abound, as well as tacos to chow down at 3 a.m. when bars close. But the earthquake on September…Continue Reading “Culinary Backstreets: Post-Quake Recovery, One Meal at a Time”