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Posts Tagged: 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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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

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!

 

 

 

Spotlight on – Negra Modelo

Although we are obviously famous for our cocktail prowess, we also have a selection of fabulous beers that we’ve carefully selected. After all, there’s something undeniably unbeatable about chowing down on an enchilada washed down with an ice cold bottle of beer. And one of the very popular choices is Negra Modelo.

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Negra Modelo was created in 1925, when the brewmasters created a delicious Munich Dunkel (dark) style lager by slow roasting caramel malts, a technique that makes the brewing process last twice as long as other beers. Using the finest hops and exceptional yeast varieties, they created this delicious drink that perfectly complements food.

It comes from the Grupo Modelo brewery, and its full name is Cerveza Negra Modelo. The word “modelo” means “model” or “example” in Spanish. “Negra” means “black” or “dark” and modifies “cerveza.” It’s ideal when drunk alongside spicy dishes, or with corn based treats such as nachos and tacos. Not tried it yet? make sure to add it to your order next time you visit!

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.

San-Cosme-Joven

 

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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IT’S NEARLY MEXICAN INDEPENDENCE DAY!

Next Wednesday – September 16th – signals a very important date in the Mexican calendar. It is, after all, MEXICAN INDEPENDENCE DAY!

Now, there will no doubt be a few people thinking ‘hang on, wasn’t that back in May?’, but as we explained in a previous post, Cinco de Mayo is a very different thing.

Mexican Independence Day is celebrated on September 16th as, on this date back in 1810, the ‘Cry of Dolores’ (Grito de Dolores) was sounded from the small town of Dolores in Mexico.  This event marks the beginning of the Mexican War of Independence, where a priest named Hidalgo revolted against the Spanish Colonial Government.  Despite this, Mexico’s independence would not be effectively declared from Spain until September 28, 1821 – a decade later. This would become the Declaration of Independence of the Mexican Empire.

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In foodie terms, the world also recognises this day as National Guacamole Day (well, why not?) So if you’re in Soho, then do pop in for a dose of the green stuff – and we’ll keep you updated on what offers we plan.

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So what’s all this about a Burrito?

Ah, burritos. We love them. You love them. Everyone who has tried an El Camion burrito loves them, because they’re so darned tasty. Whether tender Yucatan Beef, juicy Pork Carnitas, some healthy and fresh Grilled Fish or the ever popular Chicken Tinga, they are one of the most popular items on the menu. There’s even a chance to Make Them Wet… mmm.

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So what is the history of this magnificent parcel of wrapped heaven? Well, El Camion is here to tell you.

We’re fine purveyors of Baja Californian cuisine, which is from the area closer to America. But for those in the more southern part of the country, or any Spanish speakers, the name might bring a bit of confusion. Because, in Spanish, ‘Burro’ means donkey, and ‘Burrito’ means little donkey.

Why? Because the first burritos contained donkey meat… *Jokes!* No, that’s not it at all. But the real reason is shrouded in mystery. The most popular story, which is probably not entirely true, is that Juan Mendez, a man from Chihuahua in Mexico, would cart around his food supplies using a donkey. To keep the morsels warm he would wrap them up in a flour tortilla. So the name apparently comes from the fact the food was delivered and sold with the help of a donkey cart.

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But still, it is unlikely Juan Mendez actually created the burrito. This dish became popular in the early twentieth century around the time of the Mexican Revolution, but the Diccionario de Mexicanismos has an entry for the burrito as early as 1895. it describes the burrito as “A rolled tortilla with meat or other ingredients inside, called ‘coçito’ in Yucatán and ‘taco’ in the city of Cuernavaca and in Mexico City.”

Another theory is that burritos are named after little asses because the wrapped goodies look a little like donkey’s ears, or bedrolls that would have been carried by donkeys. But one thing is for certain – El Camion makes a mean one, and they are definitely worth a trip to experience!

 

A Sneaky Peek at a New Cocktail… the Chilipinarita!

You may or may not realise, but there are some exciting happenings at El Camion HQ at the moment. One of these things to watch out for is a brand new revamp of our cocktail list, currently being worked on by the lovely Bea Bradsell and her crew of mixology maestros.

Now, we’re not giving too much away just yet, but we can reveal that THIS will be one of the new drinks available. In fact, you can already order it, as it’s been gracing our Specials Board!

Chilli- Burro

 

Here we have Chilipinarita, seen alongside one of our banging burritos. Keep your eyes peeled for its appearance in The Mail online, too! And if you want to know what’s in it… well, you’ll just have to come and taste, won’t you!