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Posts Categorised: Mexico

Forget Chocolate Easter Eggs – it’s all about Cascarón!

Happy Easter everyone! We’re feeling full of the joys of spring (counteracted by the lingering hangover from a Bank Holiday Weekend), but while for many of you Easter Sunday involves scoffing as much chocolate as you possibly can, we have another option for you.

Have you ever heard of Cascaróns? No? Well that’s a shame, because they’re beautiful. Take a look:

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In Spanish, cáscara means shell and cascarón means eggshell. Cascaróns are mostly used in Mexico during Carnival, but this craft is also a popular Easter tradition.

Here’s some more details from Hispanic Culture Online:

“According to historians, this Mexican craft actually originated in China. In the Far East, the colored eggs were filled with scented powders and frequently given as gifts, that is how they became part of Hispanic culture.

After Marco Polo visited China in the 13th century, the eggs became all the rage in the royal courts of Europe, especially in Italy and Spain. They finally arrived in Mexico in the mid-1800s, courtesy of the Emperor Maximilian’s wife Carlotta.

In Mexico, the cascarones tradition began to evolve. Instead of scented powder, Mexicans put confetti into the eggs. They then developed the tradition of cracking the egg over a friend’s head to release the confetti, which inspired the name cascarones or “shell hits.”

Many people believe that breaking cascarones over your friends’ heads brings a shower of good luck and good fortune along with the spill of confetti. Sometimes we also say you should make a wish before attempting to gently bump the egg on your friend’s head. If the egg breaks, your wish will be granted.”

So there you go – Easter eggs don’t have to be all about chocolate… get decorating, break some eggs with friends, and start making your wishes for spring!

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Fancy a Quickie? El Camion can help with that…

Introducing the El Camion Quickie – a perfect opportunity to fuel up with a traditional Mexican snack, quench your thirst with a Sol, and add a spring in your step courtesy of Altos Tequila.

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Available weekdays from between 3 and 6pm, this deal is perfect for those industry bods that find themselves about to start work and, although they don’t want a full meal, would’t mind something speedy and satisfying. Or maybe you’ve just finished a shift and want to pop by to your favourite Baja Californian Cantina. For only that crumpled fiver in your pocket – or five shiny coins that you picked up as a tip – you can enjoy a freshly cooked Empanada, a chilled bottle of Sol, and a revitalising shot of Altos.

A truly fulfilling quickie for a fiver in Soho? Now that’s value!

Celebrating Octavio Paz

Today we’re celebrating the life and works of Mexican poet Octavio Paz – thought to be one of the most influential writers of the 20th Century, one of the greatest Hispanic poets of all time, and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1990.

Octavio Paz was born on March 31, 1914, in Mexico City. He was surrounded by literature and creative/political thinkers from a young age, and in 1933, he published his first collection of poems, Luna silvestre. Several years later, he helped found and edit a literary magazine called Taller. Over his lifetime, he produced more than 30 books and poetry collections, and often switched between prose and poetry. He died on April 19, 1998, in Mexico City, Mexico.

“listen to me as one listens to the rain,
the years go by, the moments return,
do you hear the footsteps in the next room?
not here, not there: you hear them
in another time that is now,
listen to the footsteps of time,
inventor of places with no weight, nowhere,
listen to the rain running over the terrace,
the night is now more night in the grove,
lightning has nestled among the leaves,
a restless garden adrift-go in,
your shadow covers this page.”
― Octavio Paz

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Tags: , , , | Filed under: Mexico

Valentine’s Day in Mexico

Well, before long it will be Valentine’s Day or, as they call it in Mexico, El Dia del Amor y la Amistad. This translates as ‘the day of love and friendship’.

And they have well and truly embraced this holiday, combining it with their own traditions and values of warmth and love. While Valentine’s Day is still a celebration of romantic love, it also serves as a day of appreciation of love as a whole. This means that as well as giving balloons, gifts and red roses to lovers, cards are also commonly presented to friends and family.

Although St Valentine does not specifically appear in Mexican history, the Mexica people did in fact have two deities that represented love.

Xochipilli was the god of love, games, beauty, dance, flowers, corn and songs. His name meant ‘prince of the flowers’ and he had a twin sister or wife; Xochiquetzal, which means precious flower or ornate bird. She was associated with the fertility of nature. Centeotl, the god of corn was their son.

In honor of this pair of gods, four days of fasting was observed. They sacrificed by inserting maguey thorns into their tongues and made offerings of bread and corn. They also danced to the beat of drums called teponaztli. Sounds far more interesting than just going out for dinner, that’s for sure!

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Filed under: Mexico

Christmas in Mexico – some fun facts!

What with Christmas approaching, we look at some fun Christmas facts and traditions relating to Mexico:

In some states in Mexico children expect Santa Claus to come on December 24th. In the south of Mexico children expect presents on January 6th at Epiphany, which is known as ‘el Dia de los Reyes’.

On el Dia de los Reyes the presents are left by the Three Kings (or Magi). If you’ve had a visit from Santa on Christmas Eve, you might also get some candy on el Dia de los Reyes!

It’s traditional to eat a special cake called ‘Rosca de Reyes’ (Three Kings Cake) on Epiphany. A figure of Baby Jesus is hidden inside the cake. Whoever has the baby Jesus in their piece of cake is the ‘Godparent’ of Jesus for that year.

Image from artimexbakery.com

Image from artimexbakery.com

Another important day, is Candelaria (also known as Candlemas) on the 2nd February and it marks the end of the Mexican Christmas celebrations. Lots of Mexicans have a party for Candelaria.

In Mexico, presents might also be brought by ‘El Niñito Dios’ (baby Jesus) & Santo Clós (Santa Claus)

In Mexico people speak Spanish (Español), so Happy/Merry Christmas is ‘Feliz Navidad’. Happy/Merry Christmas in lots more languages.

Poinsettia flowers are known as ‘nochebuena’ (Christmas Eve) flowers in Mexico.

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The largest ever Angel Ornament was made in Mexico. It was made in January 2001 by Sergio Rodriguez in the town of Nuevo León. The angel was 18′ 3″” high and had wing span of 11′ 9″! Perhaps the most amazing thing about the angel was that it was completely made out of old beer bottles, 2946 of them!

 

Facts from WhyChristmas.com

CHRISTMAS POSADA TRADITIONS IN MEXICO

YES – Christmas is most definitely here. The lights of Soho are twinkling, Brewer Street is soaked with the boozy scent of mulled wine, and we’re far enough from the chaos of Oxford Street to feel slightly smug that we’re not being trampled by gift-hungry shoppers.

However, while the entire of December seems like an excuse for Brits to binge-each mince pies, wear novelty jumpers and pop Prosecco at random opportunities, in Mexico it’s a little more structured.

This is because, over in this part of Latin America, Christmas is celebrated from December 16th to Christmas Eve.

During these nine days, children perform Posada processions. The word Posada is Spanish for Inn or Lodging, and there are nine different posadas, one for each day, and they celebrate the part of the Christmas story where Mary and Joseph are looking for somewhere to stay.

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On each night, a different house holds the Posada party. Until they reach this house, the children go on a procession throughout the neighbourhood, calling on friends and neighbours and singing to them – the song is basically Mary and Joseph asking for room at the inn. The houses are decorated with evergreens, moss and paper lanterns, while the children hold candles and a board, complete with painted clay figures of Joseph, and Mary riding on a donkey. At each house the procession is told there is no room, until finally they reach the correct house and are welcomed in! What follows is a good old knees up, with singing, food, games, fireworks and a piñata.

Christmas Eve is known as ‘Noche Buena’. At the very final Posada, shepherds and a manger are put on to the board. When the last Posada house has finally been reached, a baby Jesus is put into the manger. Families have a main Christmas meal and then go to Midnight Mass – this is known as ‘Misa de Gallo’ (Mass of the Rooster). Afterwards there are loads of fireworks to see in Christmas Day celebrations!

 

 

 

Our New Product: San Cosme Mezcal

We have a delicious new addition to our famous Tequila and Mezcal collection – one that we’re very excited to be bringing to the taste-buds of Soho. Now fans of the agave plant can come and try Mezcal San Cosme – a spirit that harks back to the craftsmanship of Mexico’s pre-colonial tradition.

 

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The name Mezcal San Cosme originates from Saint Cosmas who, together with his twin brother Damian, is the Patron Saint of Doctors. The brothers both defied death on a number of occasions and miracles are often attributed to them.

Therefore, Mezcal San Cosme can be approached for its mythical, rejuvenating and historic attributes, with each sip a discovery of its complex aromas, smooth textures and smoky softness. Sound enticing? Good! Come and try some today!

Tasting Notes from the San Cosme Mezcal website
Colour:
Bright, crystalline, unctuously caressing the glass of the mezcal, reflecting the great body of San Cosme Mezcal.

Nose:
A fresh scent of cooked agave, with a strong hint of alcohol and an underlying scent of raw agave. Some hints of caramel, wood and earth.

Taste:
San Cosme feels like it gently coats the mouth, and has a flavor of smoky agave mixed with leather.

Finish:
Warm pleasant finish.

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So What’s All This About Sugar Skulls?

As you (should) know, Day of the Dead is approaching – the celebration in Mexico where people believe that souls return to earth. It’s said that at midnight on October 31st, the gates of heaven open and the spirits of the dead children are allowed to reunite with families. Then on the 2nd November the adult sprits return to earth, and partake in the festivities laid on for them.

One part of the celebration are the appearance of sugar skulls – those bright and colourful decorations that are now seen tattooed over many an arm. But what do they actually represent?

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Well, people use sugar skulls to decorate the graves of their dead friends and relatives, but, unlike the Western interpretation of skulls being macabre, the Mexican approach is that they are joyous and celebratory. Authentic sugar skulls are indeed made out of sugar, and are further decorated with beads, fabrics, feathers and icing. The deceased’s name might be written on the forehead and then placed on the alter. Other accompaniments could be candles, marigolds (the flower of the dead) and food and drink, in order to tempt and guide the soul back to earth.

So there you have it – the reason Sugar Skulls are so important during Dia de los Muertos. Will you be painting your face and joining us for an El Camion party? We hope so!

WORLD VEGETARIAN DAY IS HERE!

Today (October 1st) marks World Vegetarian Day. That’s a chance for you guys to go MEAT FREE!

Now, before you think we’re being too hasty – we KNOW our pork carnitas are incredible. We’re aware our chicken tinga is second to none. And we’re also clued up to the fact that our carne asada has been known to make people go weak at the knees. But we do also have some DELICIOUS veggie options for you guys to try. And you know what? They also might be a bit good for you.

So, in honour of vegetarians everywhere, here’s one of our favourite and most delicious meat free options – and why it’s so good for you

Spinach and Mushroom Quesadilla 

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MUSHROOMS:

According to Organic Facts “The health benefits of mushrooms include relief from high cholesterol levels, breast cancer, prostate cancer, and diabetes. It also helps in weight loss, and increases the strength of your immune system.” Well then, give us double portions of these fabulous fungi!

If you want to read more about the health benefits of mushrooms, read on here: https://thrivecuisine.com/lifestyle/mushrooms/

SPINACH:

We all know what a power house of nutrients Spinach is – and this is verified by the Organic Facts guys again, as they say: “Health benefits of spinach include good eyesight, blood pressure, strengthens muscles, prevention of age-related macula degeneration (AMD), cataract, atherosclerosis and heart attack, neurological benefits, bone mineralization, anti-ulcerative, anti-cancerous property, skin protection, foetus development, protein rich for infant’s proper growth etc.” It’s advisable to consume spinach regularly apparently – better make this a regular order!

CHEESE:

The Dairy Council sing the praises of cheese… and okay, that might not be too surprising, but apparently “Cheese and milk are known to contain specific factors believed to protect against dental caries and are known as anticariogenic, in fact cheese is considered to be one of the most anticariogenic of all foods.” It also contains calcium and phosphorous which are essential to the development and maintenance of healthy teeth. In fact, snacking on cheese in between meals is thought to be great for dental health!

 

So there you go – since it’s World Vegetarian Day come grab a spinach and quesadilla now – your health depends on it! (almost)

 

El Camion Busts Some Mexican Food Myths!

We’ve already enlightened our loyal fans regarding many popular stories and legends surrounding Mexican food – such as Little Donkeys (burritos) and the origin of the taco. So today we’re focusing our keen eye on a few more myths and facts that you might not have realised whilst chowing down on your enchilada. Don’t say we never teach you anything!

So, get your head around these facts:

Refried Beans:

These are beans that have been fried twice, right? Wrong! Next time you order this yummy side dish then keep in mind the name is all down to a mistranslation. The Spanish name is frijoles refritos – beans that are cooked in water and then fried afterwards. Rather than ‘retired’, ‘refrito‘ means ‘well fried’. They’re a pretty old dish too – recipes date back to the 1800s!

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Chimichangas, Burritos and Enchiladas:

Confused about the differences between the Mexican food staples of enchiladas, burritos and enchiladas? Well, an enchilada is baked, while a burrito is only wrapped. As for a chimichanga – this is simply a burrito that has been fried.

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  • Tacos:

So how did tacos get big in the US? Allegedly, a group of women known as The Chilli Queens would sell them out of carts, and with the arrival of the new railroad, more and more tourists crossed their paths. They loved the easy-to-grab concept of the food, as well as the Mexican origin, and soon exploded on the foodie scene. This was hugely enhanced by the emergence of Taco Bell, which became one of the most popular Tex-Mex outlets.

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