Americans love Mexican food. We consume nachos, tacos, burritos, tortas, enchiladas, tamales and anything resembling Mexican in enormous quantities. We love Mexican beverages, happily knocking back huge amounts of tequila, mezcal and Mexican beer every year. We love Mexican people—as we sure employ a lot of them. Despite our ridiculously hypocritical attitudes towards immigration, we demand that Mexicans cook a large percentage of the food we eat, grow the ingredients we need to make that food, clean our houses, mow our lawns, wash our dishes, look after our children. As any chef will tell you, our entire service economy—the restaurant business as we know it—in most American cities, would collapse overnight without Mexican workers. Some, of course, like to claim that Mexicans are “stealing American jobs”. But in two decades as a chef and employer, I never had ONE American kid walk in my door and apply for a dishwashing job, a porter’s position—or even a job as prep cook. Mexicans do much of the work in this country that Americans, provably, simply won’t do.
We love Mexican drugs. Maybe not you personally, but “we”, as a nation, certainly consume titanic amounts of them—and go to extraordinary lengths and expense to acquire them. We love Mexican music, Mexican beaches, Mexican architecture, interior design, Mexican films.
So, why don’t we love Mexico?
We throw up our hands and shrug at what happens and what is happening just across the border. Maybe we are embarrassed. Mexico, after all, has always been there for us, to service our darkest needs and desires. Whether it’s dress up like fools and get pass-out drunk and sun burned on Spring break in Cancun, throw pesos at strippers in Tijuana, or get toasted on Mexican drugs, we are seldom on our best behavior in Mexico. They have seen many of us at our worst. They know our darkest desires.
In the service of our appetites, we spend billions and billions of dollars each year on Mexican drugs—while at the same time spending billions and billions more trying to prevent those drugs from reaching us. The effect on our society is everywhere to be seen. Whether it’s kids nodding off and overdosing in small town Vermont, gang violence in LA, burned out neighborhoods in Detroit— it’s there to see. What we don’t see, however, haven’t really noticed, and don’t seem to much care about, is the 80,000 dead—mostly innocent victims in Mexico, just in the past few years. 80,000 dead. 80,000 families who’ve been touched directly by the so-called “War On Drugs”.
Mexico. Our brother from another mother. A country, with whom, like it or not, we are inexorably, deeply involved, in a close but often uncomfortable embrace. Look at it. It’s beautiful. It has some of the most ravishingly beautiful beaches on earth. Mountains, desert, jungle. Beautiful colonial architecture, a tragic, elegant, violent, ludicrous, heroic, lamentable, heartbreaking history. Mexican wine country rivals Tuscany for gorgeousness. Its archeological sites—the remnants of great empires, unrivaled anywhere. And as much as we think we know and love it, we have barely scratched the surface of what Mexican food really is. It is NOT melted cheese over a tortilla chip. It is not simple, or easy. It is not simply ‘bro food’ halftime. It is in fact, old— older even than the great cuisines of Europe and often deeply complex, refined, subtle, and sophisticated. A true mole sauce, for instance, can take DAYS to make, a balance of freshly (always fresh) ingredients, painstakingly prepared by hand. It could be, should be, one of the most exciting cuisines on the planet. If we paid attention. The old school cooks of Oaxaca make some of the more difficult to make and nuanced sauces in gastronomy. And some of the new generation, many of whom have trained in the kitchens of America and Europe have returned home to take Mexican food to new and thrilling new heights.
It’s a country I feel particularly attached to and grateful for. In nearly 30 years of cooking professionally, just about every time I walked into a new kitchen, it was a Mexican guy who looked after me, had my back, showed me what was what, was there—and on the case—when the cooks more like me, with backgrounds like mine—ran away to go skiing or surfing—or simply “flaked.” I have been fortunate to track where some of those cooks come from, to go back home with them. To small towns populated mostly by women—where in the evening, families gather at the town’s phone kiosk, waiting for calls from their husbands, sons and brothers who have left to work in our kitchens in the cities of the North. I have been fortunate enough to see where that affinity for cooking comes from, to experience moms and grandmothers preparing many delicious things, with pride and real love, passing that food made by hand, passed from their hands to mine.
In years of making television in Mexico, it’s one of the places we, as a crew, are happiest when the day’s work is over. We’ll gather round a street stall and order soft tacos with fresh, bright, delicious tasting salsas—drink cold Mexican beer, sip smoky mezcals, listen with moist eyes to sentimental songs from street musicians. We will look around and remark, for the hundredth time, what an extraordinary place this is.
The received wisdom is that Mexico will never change. That is hopelessly corrupt, from top to bottom. That it is useless to resist—to care, to hope for a happier future. But there are heroes out there who refuse to go along. On this episode of PARTS UNKNOWN, we meet a few of them. People who are standing up against overwhelming odds, demanding accountability, demanding change—at great, even horrifying personal cost.
This show is for them.
South Korean short-track speed skater — and three-time Olympic gold medalist — Ahn Hyun-soo will be skating for Russia at the Sochi Games as “Viktor Ahn.” His decision to switch national allegiances was the culmination of a complicated story involving a wrenching injury, hurt feelings, alleged match fixing, professional pride and a relentless desire to compete.
Ahn was forgotten, yesterday’s man. But he made a huge comeback under the Russian flag last year, winning two gold medals, four silver and two bronze in the 2013-14 Short Track World Cup.
By comparison, all the competing Korean men combined won two gold, one silver and three bronze medals. On top once again, Ahn is now the Korean skaters’ biggest rival.
Regardless of the outcome in Sochi, Koreans will have tangled emotions whenever Ahn appears on the ice wearing a Russian uniform.
Here is “Knot”, a short comic I drew to sell at Mocca and TCAF this year. The printed version is going to be SO PRETTY. I’m in love with the cover (which I will post later).
I just wanted to do something fairy-tale-like that talked about doubts and frustrations and how to deal with them. I’m really happy with how colorful and adorable the story turned out to be.
If you enjoyed “Knot”, please consider reblogging it and/or checking out my ongoing webcomic Namesake! HUGS TO ALL OF YOU!
Isa’s been showing me wips of this for awhile, look how pretty this is finished, ahhh!!
Did everyone celebrate Halloween this year?
Trick or Treating isn’t too popular over here in Japan but our Director Yoshinari is sure in spirit!
We didn’t even ask him to do an illustration, and to be really blunt he should be working on our television series, KILL la KILL.(laughs)
Anyways, a Happy Halloween from Director Yoshinari, and from TRIGGER!
-Little Witch Academia 2 Kickstarter Update #15
Dia de los Muertos
An animated short film about a little girl who visits the land of the dead, where she learns the true meaning of the Mexican holiday, Dia de los Muertos.
my friend ashley worked on this!!! :D
Oh my gosh this was lovely!
Recently, Kirin (a Japanese beer company) has been running a “dream campaign” where people can write in to the company explaining what their dream is, and if selected, the company sets out to make it come true.
Of all the people selected to have their “dream come true”, the most expensive and elaborate one was a normal guy who worked for a normal company who always dreamed of being in a Jackie Chan movie. When asked what kind of movie he wanted to do, his description was extremely thorough.
He knew everything that he wanted to happen in the movie, all of the actors he wanted to use, and had every detail so perfectly worked out, that Kirin decided to go for it, and make a commercial out of it, despite how expensive it would be.
(As you watch the actual commercial, you can see numbers rambled off, and each of numbers represents something that he requested to be in the commercial. (Ex. # 13 Fighting with a stool or chair, # 31 - have some massive Chinese pot broken)
Thanks to a Japanese Beer Company, My Buddy Got to Fight with Jackie Chan @ The Way
A kid from San Francisco who enjoys the hipster culture, nerdfighting, animation and cartoons, art, hometowns, martial arts, the ironic and hilarious, music, and photography.
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