Tuesday, October 07, 2008

La Pelada: El Chile es Cultura

Michael Sedano

For the past 13 years, Alfredo Lascano has hosted his annual pelada. Frito has perfected the art of throwing a chile peeling pachanga. "El chile es cultura," this year's theme, takes on added significance with the participation of television producer-director-writer Jesus Treviño, who documented the event. (Click the links for added details about Treviño's accomplished work.)

Treviño, shown here with his "Hispanic causing panic" cap (note he wears it decently with the bill facing forward, he's old-school, que no?) began the videotaping last spring, when he and Frito drove to New Mexico to tape the sembrando of the chile seed in and around Hatch, NM.

Frito and Chuy made repeated journeys to the fields to capture the nascent blossoms, the green pods forming, the harvest of the thick-walled chiles, and rain that turned the red-dirt fields into sticky morass.

La Pelada 2008 will have a second iteration later this fall when Treviño has completed editing the interviews and documentary is ready to debut.

Treviño and his wife Bobbie--a writer who promises one day to fill a La Bloga guest spot--will host a release party where guests will arrive bearing their favorite dishes prepared with this year's chiles.

Click here for my own recipes for gluten-free chiles rellenos and crema de chile soup. Labor-intensive recipes like the chiles rellenos are always a winning contribution to a feast. I may, however, make my boatyard chile verde recipe (first prepared on a one-burner stove in a Santa Barbara boat yard), or enchiladas con rajas. Or maybe queso and rajas de chile tamales. Frito makes a superb stew using pumpkin, green chile, and hominy. In a few weeks, I'll have results and recipes of the video event.Norma Navarro serves a delectable puerco con several chiles dish. Maybe Norma will bring this flavorsome favorite, or one of her other spectacular recipes.
Yolanda Chavez arrives dressed in chile textile.

The guest list is a who's who of notable cooks, artists, and various tipos. Here Frito greets Serge Hernandez and his wife Diane.

Magu is busy peeling while being interviewed. Later Magu's son Naiche takes his turn in front of the camera. Guests pick up a 15 pound gunny sack of chiles. Most people get their sacks of chiles roasted, and spend a few hours peeling and ziplock bagging their supply of mild, hot, or extra-hot pods--hence the name "la pelada". Others pick up the unroasted sacks and plan their own roasting event the next day. Using different woods to roast chiles imparts distinctive flavors to the result, while freeing them for all-out a todo dar fun the day of the Lascano pelada. (That's a grand idea, double the fun!)

Comida is only one form of nourishment. There's also an art show featuring noted artists, in addition to Serge and Magu, Mario Trillo, Smiley, and Rich Raya, shown here with reproductions of his motorcycle and
storefront paintings.

Music, too, is a staple of any event. Frito, a devoted collector of vinyl classics, devotes most weekends to estate and garage sales, culling the best of the treasures available to knowledgeable collectors, and designing an audio environment to enhance the pelada experience.

This year, guests enjoyed a special treat when Conjunto Los Pochos arrived to serenade the enchanted guests. Bajo sexto player Elliot Baribeault was the first to arrive and he immediately began to tell folks about his hand-made Texas instrument as well as play several melodies.

In a short while, button accordionist Otoño Lujan arrived and he sat with Elliot to sing and play for the delighted guests.

After thirteen years, Alfredo Lascano has become, if not the world's, at least California's leading expert in chile peeling parties, peladas. I'm trying to convince him to take his show on the road, hiring out his services to cater peladas across the United States. Once people get to view Jesus Treviño's documentary, perhaps a new industry will sweep the nation, the moveable feast pelada art show concert and genuine good time.

A ver.

La Bloga / Hachette Book Give-Away Contest Delay

Muchos apologies to gente who checked in Saturday for the week's quiz questions to win the wondrous set of eight chicanesque books, only to find the questions absent.

I would have been overjoyed to keep my commitment to run the questions last Saturday. Sadly, however, my friend Jane's memorial service was Sunday, and I was traveling north to attend and be with her family.

Dang, gente, no one is immune to sudden death, but her passing comes only a year after she lost her son and his best friend in an auto accident. What a terrible bit of news this is. Goodbye, Jane.

This week's last week's questions. So I'm keeping it simple. First, here's the list of titles you can win with just a few keystrokes:

Dream in Color by Linda Sánchez, Loretta Sánchez
Gunmetal Black by Daniel Serrano
The Gifted Gabaldón Sisters by Lorraine López
Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya
Brownsville by Oscar Casares
The Hummingbird's Daughter by Luis Urrea
The General and the Jaguar by Eileen Welsome
Tomorrow They Will Kiss by Eduardo Santiago

Send your answer to the following question--along with a mailing address--by clicking here.

"Hard Boned White Boys" is excerpted from this unpublished novel (cite title and author).

So, here we are, the first Tuesday of October 2008. The autumn leaves have sung September's song. Call me maudlin, pero sabes que? There's no time like the present to tell all your friends by word or deed you love them and wish them good health, happiness, and long life.


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1 comment:

Ann Hagman Cardinal said...

I love this! It is so fabulous to have a good piece here, and thank you for the photos as well. I wish I could have attended.