Mexico, is my surrogate mother. I come from south of their border, but because I grew up in the homes of my Mexican friends, I grew to love this country as if it were my own. ( I will admit there is some level of rivalry only because of historical issues between my country and Mexico, but still I love it almost as much as my own).
(Diego Rivera Mural from El Palacio Nacional)
I spent every vacation there since I was 18, until I had children, and visit as often as I can. My love for Mexico is not simply because I see Mexicans as my brothers and sisters in the struggle here in the U.S, it is because through Mexican culture, I learned to embrace myself as a Latina, (Mexicans are the majority group here in California.) I went through a phase where I was embarrassed to have parents who did not speak English well. I never spoke spanish and said my name with an American accent. I rolled my eyes at any mention of being an immigrant, and my shame led to a series of poor decisions at a very early age. I guess denying who I was, ate me up inside, but through my gentle and loving friends who were Mexican, I began to embrace who I was slowly, even though I still felt othered because, I wasn't Mexican—I am Guatemalan.
Eventually I began to meet other Central Americans, when gentrification began to hit san Francisco in the late 90's (contrary to popular belief it has been going on for a while) Salvadorian, Guatemalan and Nicaraguense families began to move toward my part of the Bay. What we Central Americans and Mexicans had in common was our language, our similar cultures where parents "don't let you do nothin" and the fact that all of our families had back breaking work as a way to put food on the table. We found communion in these similarities, and in our differences to our American peers. (99% of my friends were either immigrants or children of immigrants) These experiences in our youth, led me to study Latin American studies at CAL, where I further engaged with the history and culture of various countries in Latin America, but i specifically spent hundred of hours reading and researching Mexican culture and history.
So because of all of this, I was particularly moved when I saw this come across my facebook feed. And I want to throw up an appreciation for Anthony Bourdain, I for one enjoy his approach to travel shows. But more than anything else, he shows a deep respect and love for places that I care a lot about. His recent write up on his Tumblr that precedes a new episode of his show, is an example of everything that I love about Bourdain. HE, unlike most people who write about travel gets it and what his role is as a traveler and observer.
A few things stood out to me, so bare with me as I go through them.
"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."
I have been saying this for years. Americans, LOVE to go to Mexico to do some crazy ass shit. If anyone has been to a Spring Break in Cancun, or Ensenada, it is clear that what Americans want in Mexico is the ability to act like goddamned fools without the consequences they would have at home. The people of Mexico are much better hosts than we are to them, I guarantee you all that.
"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. "
I do feel that people need to be more open to understanding that Chipotle is not the same as the little hole in the wall place that serves freshly made tortillas and home-made salsas. Mexican food, seriously, is the truth.
To discount an entire country's food as simple or "too spicy" or, "it makes me have the runs" is just absurd. I can see if you consider Taco Bell the end all be all of Mexican food that might be what your guts are hating. but trust me, the process of making a good pot of beans and then the careful way of refrying them is not something that will make you run to the bathroom the moment you place those frijoles in your mouth. Each house has a subtle difference, that is why most of us will always claim our mother's beans are the best. I have many more states to get through, but I have sampled some of the most amazing foods from Sinaloa, Jalisco, Yucatan, DF, and Michoacan. not to mention about 20 different Moles, YUM!
Anyway, this is just a long post to share this article with you all. Please take a look, I definitely enjoyed it!
(just in case No Jezebel sharing)