|My grandmother's molcajete and her piedra from Michoacán.|
They sit on a slab of raw lava from the Mojave desert.
A Facebook friend shared a video from Azteca Michoacán of a man sculpting blocks of hard basaltic lava into tripod-footed stone bowls. Hammering relentlessly but skillfully each conforms to a design he finds in the rock. He's been practicing the art since an early age, learning from his father. His molcajetes stack uniformly, clones of a master form in his mind. This is the most culturally interesting and satisfying demonstration video I've seen in a long, long time. What a gem!
UN INSTRUMENTO ANCESTRAL QUE AÚN ESTÁ VIGENTE EN MUCHOS HOGARES
Posted by Azteca Michoacán on Friday, July 17, 2015
Family legend holds that when a girl in Michoacán became a señorita she fashioned her own molcajete in preparation for the time when she would leave her mother’s side and take on the responsibility of making the chile in her own casita. Gramma's molcajete is uniquely not mass produced. My grandmother’s molcajete might be the last in an ancient line of home-made molcajetes.
Stubby nubs for the tripod, my grandmother’s 19th century molcajete sits squat and shallow, one deep chip along two inches of interior rim serves as a pouring spout. Perhaps an error, perhaps a strategic blow one long-ago instant, quien sabe? Small and light enough to hold in one hand, my gramma’s molcajete is the right size and weight to pack away and carry on a long journey that started at a place, she used to tell tiny me, with butterfly nets.
I jumped with joy every time my mother told me she was taking me to visit her abuelita in San Bernardino. When we visited at the tortilleria where little gramma worked, I got a big plate of guisado or caldo and a hot fresh thick tortilla de maíz. When we visited abuelita’s upstairs room at Aunt Lucy’s house, smoke from the chiles she roasted choked me and I fled outside. Chile was all she ate, and a tortilla that she dipped into her molcajete with its deep, red chile. I never learned to make that and I don’t know who got her molcajete after she passed to the other side.
Here is the piedra and molcajete my grandmother owned since she was a young woman in Michoacan in the latter 19th century. The metate it rests on is a grinding surface Indians carried to use when they didn't have pot-holes to grind acorns.
My paternal grandmother used to herd sheep in what had been the back country of Redlands, where my family found the metate. Gramma knew the spot in that canyon, but didn't recognize the metate, nor have a story about these objects, so it comes from long before her time.
A Day Without Chile is Like A Day Without Sunshine
My grandmother’s, and mother’s, molcajete chile I remember well. Encimoso, I observed gramma closely. I was young enough that my tías let me watch when they made their versions of my gramma’s chile. My mom answered my questions but didn’t teach me so I learned her technique from observation.
Ingredients are what the garden produced today, and how big your molcajete is. Three or four small tomatoes, 3 or 4 garlic cloves, a small onion, 4 or 5 fresh chilies: huero, serrano, jalapeño, pico de pajaro, japones; what have you. A squeeze of lemon. At the end, crush some raw chile piquin and add to taste to enhance the picoso, if needed.
Put the chiles, garlic, onion and tomatoes on a hot frying pan or the open flame. Shake or turn frequently so they blacken all over not just in one spot. When opaque paper-thin skin begins to steam loose from the whole fruits all over, put them on a clean surface. You can toss them into iced water for a few seconds and they peel better and don’t burn you.
Peel away the skin from the limp, draining vegetables. Core the tomatoes and cut off the tops of the chiles. Leave some seeds, don’t take them all out. If you have unhappy diverticuli, split the roasted chiles under water and the seeds float out at the brush of a thumb.
Add a pinch of salt unless, you know.
|My mother's molcajete and stone, purchased 1941.|
Transfer the fire-roasted ingredients to the molcajete and begin crushing slowly to avoid splashing. (You can grind seeds in the molcajete first to season automatically; or, add powdered comino seed, coriander seed, black pepper, salt to the crushed chile sauce. This is optional.)
With the wide end of the piedra, crushing and stirring hard, reduce the roasted material to a ragged liquid consistency. Add a squeeze or more lemon. (You can stir in cubed or minced aguacates and fresh cilantro now, optional.)
Provecho! Seal left-overs in a jelly jar and pour over your eggs the next morning.
Note on world’s hottest capsicums. Don’t put "ghost" or "jolokia" chilitos in food because they’re so hot you can’t taste anything for ten or twenty minutes. Habaneros is OK. Chile and salsas need heat to hold the chile-maker’s street cred, but genuinely critical is being so flavorful that la familia always asks you and only you to bring the chile.
¡Hijole! Summer is harvest time for chile, tomatoes, onions, garlic, aguacates. Dare you eat a hot healthy chile de molcajete? Hurry up, please, it's time.
The Gluten-free Chicano Cooks
Chicano Hot Dog
Wrap a warm corn tortilla around a kosher hot dog and you have yourself a weenie taco. Only a small amount of extra effort converts those simple ingredients into a crispy Chicano Hot Dog that you garnish however your tastes take you.
The Gluten-free Chicano is a food nationalist with a soupçon of hegemonism in his claim that anything he cooks is Chicano food. If he makes a baloney sandwich that's a Chicano baloney sandwich. Like the time a woman at an awards dinner asked a Chicano teenager if his family "ate a lot of Mexican food at home?" He answered, "every day."
The Chicano Hot Dog is not by dint of its maker but in the nature of the thing itself. Like a bacon-wrapped weenie grilled by a street vendor, the Chicano Hot Dog is sui generis.
Step one: toast the tortilla de maiz.
Put those burned spots from the open burner on one side of the commercial tortilla. Wrap it around a kosher sausage. If the tort doesn't hold its shape, pin the flap down with a wooden toothpick.
Step two: Get the frying pan sizzlng hot and cook.
Spill a small amount of olive oil to coat a flat pan. Over medium flame, fry until the tortilla has crisped and browned, turning every minute or so. Start with the fold down. Use tongs to hold and turn the taco.
Adding half a teaspoon of bacon grease to the olive oil enhances flavor. The kosher dog is more unlikely to have wheat-based thickeners and extenders, but read the package ingredients to be sure.
Step Three: Chow Down.
Serve with conventional condiments. Here is a mayonnaise dip for a mustard-topped crispy shell, a garlic pickle, and a green onion. Needs some of that molcahete chile, que no?
The First Shall Be First: Oldest Published-By-A-Chicano Bukowski Poem
Last week, La Bloga reported on the landmark Bluebird Reading Series' reading honoring Charles Bukowski. It was one of the best Bluebird Readings yet, LA writers honoring a quintessential LA writer, in LA's essential spot of arte and poetry, Avenue 50 Studio.
More than a favorite of Los Angeles writers, Bukowski develops quick rapport with writers wherever his books land.
In 1990, Carlos Cumpian worked a Tantalus-type job, in Chicago. Selling books at an indie bookseller, Cumpian would ring up Bukowskis with far more regularity than ordinary poets. The uptick of public interest ticked up the clerk's. Bukowski won a new reader, not a new customer. Black Sparrow Press books came with a hefty price tag the minimum wage reader couldn't cover.
Since the clerk couldn't afford to buy his own copies, Carlos Cumpian wrote his own Bukowski-flavored poem. If you can't buy 'em, join 'em.
From what Carlos Cumpian can averiguar, his is the first published Chicano poem about Charles Bukowski. If anyone knows of an earlier piece, please share it by contacting La Bloga via the Comments link at the foot of today’s column, or email.
Barflies Have Feelings Too
By Carlos Cumpian
I once dreamt about
“poetry is like a good shit”
He wanted a new look,
His mean reflection,
Always getting lost in the
Moon pores and liver lines.
Don’t ask why he called me
At some loop bar,
A place even he wouldn’t visit
to take a piss in.
So while swigging
A cold beer from Wisconsin
And reading the collection
Of business cards
Visible in the joint’s fish bowl,
The phone rings, it’s Bukowski,
Wants me to find the names of
All the plastic surgeons…
Up comes a card that reads:
“Discreet work from head to feet.
World’s Best in all of South America.
VISA and Master Card accepted.”
Only the doctor had a long
German name and a p.o. box
In Buenos Aires, Argentina.
“Great, see you when I get back.”
Before I could say, “Adios”
He’s standing in front of me
Showing off the results of his
Trip to the doc,
His nose back peeled and
Pores filled with smooth pellets
Of steel and wax.
It was a most manageable beak,
The nose he wanted at thirty,
He seemed satisfied, only wondered
If it was safe to pick.
To celebrate he pulled from a sack
a bottle of Irish whiskey,
raised a drink to his lips and sipped,
but when he put his booze down,
his old nose was back.
Carlos Cumpián ©1990
La Bloga friend, poet Iris de Anda, sends word of her publication in the premiere number of Angel City Review. Editor Zachary Jensen plans to bring two free issues a year. Jensen's Foreword observes:
When initially starting this project, I questioned if there was really a need for another literary journal. There are tons of them out there already. In fact, you can walk in to most bookstores and find them on the shelves varying from $7 to $24 for the larger collections. The problem, though, is not everyone can afford to shell out even $7 to experience new poetry and fiction. Also, many (but not all) of these journals are inaccessible to new and emerging writers making it difficult for new writers to be heard. With these two problems in mind Angel City Review was born. We are dedicated to providing cutting edge poetry and fiction for free on a twice-yearly basis in eBook format. Our goal is to be inclusive to writers of all backgrounds, whether they went to college, or never took a single creative writing class. There will also never be reader fees. Every issue will be anchored by a few more established names (with this issue being. . . .
Witnessing the beginning of a productive career in literary ephemera is a pleasure. That it's a PDF or eBook is a pleasure for its sustainability while confuting the definition of "ephemera."
Visit Angel City Review's website here to get a free copy. Angel City has begun the reading period for issue two. Find submissions details on the site.
On-line Floricanto At Summertime's Peak
Betty Sánchez, Jon Hepworth, Paul Aponte, Tom Sheldon, Sandra Barrios Del Mar
The Moderators of the Facebook group Poetry of Resistance, Poets Responding to SB 1070 nominate five poets for La Bloga's July On-line Floricanto.
El Cielo Se Está Cayendo Por Betty Sánchez
2015 – Ojos Que No Ven (Eyes That Do Not See) By Jon Hepworth
The Drumming By Paul Aponte
Beyond Language By Tom Sheldon
No Al Racismo Contra Los Inmigrantes Por Sandra Barrios Del Mar
El Cielo Se Está Cayendo
Por Betty Sánchez
El cielo se está cayendo
Nadie parece notarlo
Hillary lanza campaña
Para ser la presidenta
Promete darnos papeles
Si le brindamos el voto
El clima global
Causan un índice
Mas alto de evaporación
Y por consiguiente sequías
Restricciones de agua
Las cosechas perecen
Los empleos desaparecen
¿A quién le importa?
Frutas y vegetales del Sur
No es nuestra prioridad
Darme una ducha
De media hora
Es mi derecho
El no regar mi jardín
O dejar de lavar mi coche
No solucionará el problema
La población de Siria
Se ha reducido
Un quince por ciento
En cuatro años
De conflicto armado
España se hunde
En un pozo de pobreza
Desigualdad y desempleo
No hay un plan definido
El tráfico de humanos
Mas de doscientos cincuenta
Huelga de hambre
En un centro de detención
En Eloy Arizona
Por las condiciones inhumanas
Y el trato injusto que reciben
La brutalidad policiaca
Aumenta en el país
La violencia en México
Es una realidad cotidiana
Las muertes en las fronteras
Ya no hacen noticia
De primera plana
Y el suicidio infantil
Como un mal de sociedad
Es cuestión personal
Los sucesos del mundo
Están a nuestro alcance
Con un click
Aunque la poesía no vende
El cielo se está cayendo
Nadie parece notarlo
La Copa América
Chile esta en todo
14 de Junio de 2015
2015 – Ojos Que No Ven (Eyes That Do Not See)
By Jon Hepworth
No, I am not OK.
I am wounded.
I am broken.
I have eyes that do not see.
Today, I privilege my existence
with love given to me in great abundance.
Today, I luxuriate in $100 cleated bicycle shoes.
Today, I fondle an erect penis at the Lone Star.
But no, I am not OK
Because, I have eyes that do not see.
On an alley near 9th Street is a homeless man.
He holds an unshielded point or “short” insulin syringe
containing 65 units of blood saturated drug
In his left hand,
as I place a $1 bill into his right hand.
This man is homeless
because of me
because I failed to act as human
because I failed to see that he is my brother in need.
Am I in a dream?
Am I sleepwalking?
I am scared that Francisco Alarcon’s “Mariposas Sin Fronteras” will awaken me.
I am scared to admit that my hands are stained in blood.
I am an accomplice in this American conspiracy that allows humans to live without homes.
I prefer to sleepwalk with everyone else.
I prefer to look away from our crime of abandonment.
I prefer to shelter myself in denial because
I have eyes that do not see.
By Paul Aponte
The drums keep their sounds
You may be gone
Slipped into the deep oceans of time
But the beats are still heard
The cathartic drumming
The energy raising thumps echoing in our chests
The happy rhythms of your creation
The percussive varied instruments melodiously instilling love
The compositions that brought visual still beauty that seemed to move to the beats you captured
The elevated, spiritual, reverberations still alive
The sounds of unity and bravery you left us all with.
By Tom Sheldon
Sprawled on our mother in slumber
beneath a salt studded indigo sky
at the mercy of the midnight mind
dreaming of sunshine
and the morning to come
NO AL RACISMO CONTRA LOS INMIGRANTES
Por Sandra Barrios del Mar
Estimado racista este es nuestro continente...
La fruta que llega a tu mesa
es abonada con la sangre
de los inmigrantes…
La ropa que luces es confeccionada
por las manos de color...
Tus hijos son cuidados por nanas latinas...
belgas, coreanas o chinas...
que les entregan su corazón....
de noche y de día…
mientras sus propios hijos...
lejos de ellas...
viven en melancolía.
Las oficinas, escuelas, hospitales,
mansiones, edificios, casas...
marquetas, restaurantes son limpiados...
con afán y esmeros…
Los cristales de los rascacielos
aunque los que los limpian
Sus vidas cuelgen en lasorillas...
Los aviones que usas
por las manos de color.
No juegues con el dolor
de nuestra clase trabajadora
que solo quiere vivir y trabajar en paz...
Los campos florecen
bajo la irrigación de su arduo sudor...
Las fábricas rugen ...
Y grandes ganancias producen
Muchos inmigrantes mueren
en los campos de California
Bajo la inhóspita insolación...
otros mueren en los desiertos...
devorados por los coyotes...
y abandonados a la merced...
Del hambre, fío y sed...
¿Qué coyotes son los más voraces
Los de cuatro o dos patas ?
Es cruel que los sueños...
y llegue al otro lado del muro
para ser vendidos al mejor postor...
r a c i s t a...
Recuerda que llegaste del otro lado
No a la deportación...
De nuestro continente!...
Tus patéticos tratados de comercio...
Tu patética presencia en los patrocinios de guerras...
La explotación desmedidas de las transnacionales...
De nuestras tierras
¿Por qué me obligas abandonar
¿Por qué me incriminas?
En mi tierra...
en mi continente...
Solo luchamos por el amor
a nuestra gente...
Respeto a la dignidad
de la clase trabajadora.
Los inmigrantes somos
Autora: Sandra Barrios del Mar
Todos los derechos reservados sonde mi autoría.