Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Nopales. Chicano Photography. Floricanto.

The Gluten-free Chicano
Nopales con carne de puerco y tortas de camarón
Michael Sedano

A single penca planted in 1960. ©2013msedano

You know it’s Springtime when opuntia cactus of the right varieties form plentiful buds and you keep an eye on them over the next few weeks until the pencas are large and still tender, deep green and ready to be picked, peeled, diced and cooked up.

But early February is not Springtime. The nopales stand bereft of buds. Still weeks to go before we can return to the old nopal and harvest some of its tender offerings. When he bought this land in 1960, my father kicked his heel into the hillside here, to soften the dirt. He dropped a penca where he worked and stepped on it, pressing it into the earth. 

When there was still open land and groves in Redlands, people who didn’t grow their own knew the best places to pick nopales. Just as gente knew the groves where the best verdolagas grew, a favored field where the kelites were almost weed-free, they knew where the best tunas--hence the best nopales--grew. Nopales were a feature of the local landscape; in the wash, in alleyways, in a corner of an empty lot.

Some nopales are more delectable than others. The ones with fuzzy micro-espinas are inedible just because they're so much hassle, no one I know has ever eaten one. 
Pencas need to be new growth, healthily green-colored, free of complicated espinas, and a scant half inch thick, so diced chunks have skin on two sides.

Always ask permission before cutting someone's nopales. Most gente will exchange recipes and urge you take a few more. I've heard some tipas request a few dollars to allow a forager to pick nopales.

Today, the local Mexican markets sell diced nopalitos in plastic bags, as well as whole pencas if you want them for grilling, or to cut your own.

The nopal forms the heart of comida de cuaresma. With scrambled eggs for breakfast, in a pickled salad for lunch, and Nopales con tortas de camarón for dinner, those observant of the Lenten stricture against eating meat find hearty eating in nopales.

I, like my people, always preferred the dish with pork, hence today’s The Gluten-free Chicano recipe features pork as well as shrimp and eggs with nopales. The dish is completely gluten-free.

Nopales con carne de puerco y tortas de camarón is down-home cooking, but also company food.

Medium onion
4 teeth garlic
three or four branches of cilantro
Two pencas or 1 pound diced fresh nopales.
1/8 lb chicharrón broken into 2" squares.
1 lb pork, 1/2 cubes".
Serrano or jalapeño chiles, sliced thin.
salt, red chile, comino powder, black pepper.
Eggs – 2 people per egg
2 oz ground dried shrimp powder (I large package)
Baking soda
limón or lemon
Tomato sauce
Water or broth, maybe milk

Nopales exude a viscous gum during cutting and cooking. This is a natural thickener to the sauce but can be unnerving to the first-time user.

In a smoking hot pan...
Mince onion and garlic and wilt with the sliced chiles in good olive oil.
Add cubed pork, brown.

Add sprigs of fresh cilantro.
Toss in the nopalitos and fry until they turn a deep green.
Lower the heat.

Add one or two cans of tomato sauce and the water from rinsing the cans.

Stir in pieces of chicharrón and let simmer twenty minutes or however long it takes to make a batch of tortas de camarón.

Tortas de Camarón
This torta is an omelette thickened with powdered shrimp.

Separate eggs. Add a pinch baking soda to egg whites.
Beat egg whites to light peaks.
Blend in egg yolks.
Stir in 1/4 cup of water or milk, salt, black pepper.
Stir in half the package of powdered shrimp.
Assess your needs. Add water and the rest of the shrimp if you'll need to make more tortas. The mix should be thick enough to form dollops, not pour.

Squeeze a lime or lemon half into the egg-shrimp mix.

In a hot pan...

Drop generous tablespoons of egg mixture into hot olive oil and spread the pancake with a spatula. Turn and cook until center is done. The tortas will brown very nicely.

Float the tortas atop the nopales and serve to table.

Place a torta or two on each plate, cover with a scoop of nopales and carne de puerco. Eat with your hands and tortilla de maíz. 

Refritos, green salad, cold gluten-free beer, hot conversation at your option.

A beauteous nopal but not the eating kind.
Chicano Photography
Not a Birder, a Photographer of Birds

Every year I enjoy renting a super telephoto lens and heading out to Morro Bay for the annual Winter Bird Festival. I enjoy birds a lot but I'm not a birder.

A birder derives satisfaction from seeing a lot of birds. A photographer delights in seeing a lot of bird.

Here are some fotos illustrating the difference between adding a bird to the "seen" list and capturing a dynamic moment in the animal's environment.

A California Brown Pelican hanging out on the breakwater.

A California Brown Pelican cruising toward  the stern of a boatload of birders.

A Peregrine Falcon perches on a piece of Morro Rock. Birders yearn for a
rare sighting of a Peregrine Falcon on the rock.

A Peregrine Falcon swoops from its perch on a moored boat's mast.
A raptor deciding to dive gives no hints about when or the direction. The photographer trains the lens on the creature, one eye taking in the full scene, the other eye ensuring the subject remains framed.

Whales offer wondrously complicated photo opportunities. Hand-held on a pitching deck, a general alert, "whale at 9 o'clock," a disturbance in the surface  proof the beast had been seen, hope that the whale surfaces again somewhere over there, not impossibly distant.

This grey whale surfaced a few feet from the boat and filled the frame.
To view a full gallery of 2013 Morro Bay Winter Bird Festival mostly birds fotos, click here.

On-Line Floricanto 2d in the 2d Month of 2013
Nancy Lorenza Green, Ramon Pinero, Jabez W. Churchill, Iris De Anda, Andrea Mauk

"Our Home /Nuestro Hogar" by Nancy Lorenza Green
"Untitled/Sin Titulo" by Ramon Pinero
"Perhaps Tomorrow / Quizás Mañana" (A poem for Hedy Treviño and family) by Jabez W. Churchill
"Just Poetry Is Not a Crime" by Iris De Anda
"Small and Precious" by Andrea Mauk

Our Home
by Nancy Lorenza Green

Earth engulfed in life-giving water,
tears of a dying planet

A droplet in the majestic cascade
of an expanding universe

Misty creation
of sacred breath

Nuestro Hogar

Tierra sumergida en agua que da vida,
lágrimas de un planeta moribundo

Pequeña gota en la cascada majestuosa
del universo en expansión

Neblinosa creación
del respiro sagrado

Untitled\Sin Titulo
by Ramon Pinero

when I say no
the world gets
further away
the love i
look for
in a pond

when i say no
like smoke
into thin air

when i say no
i'm pushing
against the river
against all hope
aligning with
the fight
for life

when i
say yes
the universe
in all
its glory
lay before
light slays
in every

when i
say yes
the dirge
a son
a bolero
with wild

when i
say yes
love ceases
to be hope
and is

when i
say yes
i consume
and am
by God;
El Coro

Perhaps Tomorrow
by Jabez W. Churchill

To Hedy Treviño and Family

The glass is empty
but keeps filling involuntarily
with memories, unkept promises
of coffee in the morning,
outside in the garden,
in the kitchen listening to the rain,
of the commonest but most exquisite pleasures,
texts and phone messages,
notes left on the bed.
The glass,
the hope we held together is now empty
but difficult to let go.
My hand, my lips, accustomed to the rim,
the easy curvature
of days and nights
in uninterrupted succession.
But it sits
as empty as your favorite cup
still standing in the drainer.
I will return it to the cupboard with the rest,
empty unkept promises,
or perhaps, tomorrow.

Quizas Manana
por Jabez W. Churchill

A Hedy Treviño y Familia

El vaso esta vacio
pero se sigue llenando solo
de recuerdos, promesas sin cumplir
de café por la mañana
afuera en el patio,
en el comedor escuchando la lluvia,
de los mas comúnes
sino placeres mas exquisitos,
textos y recados telefónicos,
notas dejadas encima de la cama.
El vaso,
la esperanza que llevábamos juntos
ya esta vacio
pero difícil soltar.
Mis manos, mis labios
acostumbrados a su borde,
la curva natural ininterrumpida,
dias y noches en sucesión.
Pero se queda en el escurreplatos
tan vacio como tu taza favorita.
La guardo esta noche con las otras,
promesas sin cumplir
o quizás mañana.

Just Poetry Is Not a Crime
by Iris De Anda

This is not just poetry
it is visions pouring
thru us of collective
conscious unity

These words flow
thru us catching glimpses
of a new world aglow

The love we speak
is a reflection of
the truth we seek
in humanity

This is not just poetry
it is justice screaming
thru us in constant
vowels & soliloquy

The musings on this page
a distilling forth
thru us of rage
transformed as poetry

The ideas we write
come forth streaming
no wrong or right
only questions on being

This is not just poetry
it is life revealing itself
thru spoken word
this is the sound of urgency

There are those whose verse
some would silence
so we grow louder & disburse
create freedom of speech treaties

The stitching of phrases
as declarations of change
us only leaving traces
messages as visionaries

This is not just poetry
it is equality pleading
thru us in pain
requesting mercy

These odes emerge
thru us hearts beating
as we converge
under skies so starry

The rhymes it seems
count us into
the daydreams
of our journey

This is not just poetry
it is every moment
of overlooked pieces
unknown & mystery

The ink begins spilling
a memento of silence
thru us of feeling
becoming a story

The voices in our head
come from living
in black & white then red
adding color to memory

This is not just poetry
it is death beckoning us
thru dark nights
this is the typist bleeding

There are those whose lyric
some would ban
so we sing louder & euphoric
never sorry no apologies

The poets manifesto design
of grasping fleeting thoughts
turning letters into lines
free even if charged with just poetry

*dedicated to Qatari Poet Mohamed Ibn Al Ajami
sentenced to life in prison for reciting a

Small and Precious
by Andrea Mauk

Our stories are small and precious,
as simple as the first time we see a ladybug scaling
a blade of grass, and we pick it up, only to watch it
fly away. Our stories smell like bread baking
in the factory behind the hotel, they remember
words spoken in chilled vapor on crisp mornings.
They are etched on bricks and tree bark, engraved
in our hearts, kept in yellowing photo albums
on the coffee table with the lace doilie.

Our stories are passed down on holidays, at dinner time,
and cooking time, when everyone's gathered and noisy,
our stories are music and magic, sometimes offered as a ray of hope
to stop the flow of tears after a first broken heart. Sometimes
we hide them under the pillow or behind a smile,
knowing no one would ever understand. Sometimes
we write them in a journal, really a spiral bound notebook
purchased for 99 cents, and we look out the window and
dream of the day that we will see stars instead
of the neighbor's window staring back at us.
Our stories travel over telephone lines that
weave one shore to the next, and through sattlelite
transmissions that throw our ideas into the atmosphere.
They are painted on canvas and walls,
they reflect from my visual cortex to yours
without ever speaking a word.

Our stories are about old countries and big dreams,
about everything embarrassing we did as kids,
about ancestors, relatives and love. Mostly love.
Working hard to build things, a home, a family,
a community, an infrastructure of rails and roads
and span bridges and dreams, always more dreams.

Our stories wouldn't be about murder and abduction,
violence and war if it were left up to us, we, the people,
because our stories are small and precious, stored in grandma's
cedar chest or Aunt Tillie's hat box. They escape
every time we open the recipe file or the souvenir drawer.
Our stories are not the stories of America, brave and bold
superpower, they are of sons and daughters donning
uniforms, and those who return will tell their own. Our stories
get shared on buses and between churches and in grocery aisles.
They are not of prejudice and missed or stolen opportunity.
They are about my hands and your hands working together
to make our land a great land. Those other stories,
heard on the radio, repeated into oblivion on TV, glorified
on the silver screen, memorized from text books,
they are there, they exist, it seems we can't escape them.
They are placed upon us, we live and endure them...
but they aren't ours. Our stories are small and precious
and always worth holding close to our hearts.

"Our Home /Nuestro Hogar" by Nancy Lorenza Green
"Untitled/Sin Titulo" by Ramon Pinero
"Perhaps Tomorrow / Quizás Mañana" (A poem for Hedy Treviño and family) by Jabez W. Churchill
"Just Poetry Is Not a Crime" by Iris De Anda
"Small and Precious" by Andrea Mauk

Afro-Chicana teaching and performing artist from El Paso and Cd. Juárez, Nancy Lorenza Green, M.Ed., is author of Crucified River/Rio Crucificado (Mouthfeel Press),  a collection of poetry dedicated to the women who have been murdered in Juárez and the thousands of immigrants who die crossing borders.  Her work has been anthologized in La Bloga, Sowing the Seeds: Our Spirit, Our Reality, Poetry and Art by Rincón Bohemio, Mezcla, Mujeres de Maíz Zines, Chrysalis, and Bordersenses.

Nancy works with migrant families, children with disabilities, and newly-arrived immigrant children in school districts throughout the region.  She facilitates multi-disciplinary workshops in community based organizations and public libraries under the Community Arts Program administered by the City of El Paso Museums and Cultural Affairs Department.  Nancy also participates in the Smithsonian Latino Virtual Museum’s cultural programs.  She can be reached at 915-564-9218 or email.

Ex Bay Area poet living in the buckle of the Bible Belt, aka Florida. Where good little boys and girls grow up to be republicans who vote against their own interest. Father of three and Grandfather to five of the coolest kids ever. Niuff said...

JABEZ W. CHURCHILL. Born in Northern California, educated in Argentina, California, and Cuba. Single dad. Currently teaching modern languages at Santa Rosa Junior College and Mendocino College. California Poet in the Public Schools since 1998, predominantly with bilingual youth and youth at risk. Practicing civil disobedience since 1970.

SONG OF SEASONS, Small Poetry Press, 1996
CONTROLLED BURN, Small Poetry Press, 1996
EL VELO/THE VEIL, Kulupi Press, 2000
SANTA CLARA REVIEW, Spring/Summer 2002
americas review, 2003
languageandculture.net, chapbook series, 2005
FIRST LEAVES, Literary and Art Journal, 2009
Primer Festival de Poesia Latinoamericana, San Francisco, Ca. 2011
laBloga, Poets Responding to SB1070, 2011-2012
THE ARTS UNITED SAN ANTONIO, May, 2012, and August, 2012.

Spain, Summer, 1999.
Cuba, scholarship from la Casa de las Americas, Summer, 2000.
Featured at Summer Dream Poetry Festival, Vancouver, B.C. 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011,and 2012.

Iris De Anda is a writer, activist, and practitioner of the healing arts. A native of Los Angeles she believes in the power of spoken word, poetry, storytelling, and dreams. She has been published in Mujeres de Maiz Zine, Loudmouth Zine: Cal State LA, OCCUPY SF poems from the movement, & online @ La Bloga. She is an active contributor to Poets Responding to SB 1070. She performs at community venues & events throughout the Los Angeles area. She hosted The Writers Underground Open Mic 2012 @ Mazatlan Theatre & 100,000 Poets for Change 2012 @ the Eastside Cafe. Follow her story @ http://irisdeanda.typepad.com/la_writer_underground/

Andrea García Mauk grew up in Arizona, where both the immense beauty and harsh realities of living in the desert shaped her artistic soul. She calls Los Angeles home, but has also lived in Chicago, New York and Boston. She has worked in the music industry, and on various film and television productions.

She writes short fiction, poetry, original screenplays and adaptations, and is currently finishing two novels. Her writing and artwork has been published and viewed in a variety of places such as on The Late, Late Show with Tom Snyder; The Journal of School Psychologists and Victorian Homes Magazine. Both her poetry and artwork have won awards. Several of her poems and a memoir are included in the 2011 anthology, Our Spirit, Our Reality, and her poetry is featured in the 2012 Mujeres de Maiz “‘Zine.”

She is a regular contributor to Poets responding to SB 1070. Her poems have been chosen for publication on La Bloga’s Tuesday Floricanto numerous times. She is also a moderator of Diving Deeper, an online workshop for writers, and has written extensively about music, especially jazz, while working in the entertainment industry. Her production company, Dancing Horse Media Group, is currently in pre-production of her independent film, “Beautiful Dreamer,” based on her original screenplay and manuscript, and along with her partners, is producing a unique cookbook that blends healthful recipes with poetry and prose from the community.nancygreen9@yahoo.com

1 comment:

msedano said...

Thank you poets and moderators of Poets Responding to SB 1070 Poetry of Resistance. Six important pieces today. Thanks also to California's abundance of critters and nopales.