Friday, July 29, 2022

Shedding Light on Fading History

Recently, some of La Bloga's contributors have written stories or essays that support the notion of preserving the past by making sure history is not casually erased by neglect.  For example, see this month's posts by Daniel Cano (Listening to Our Elders) or Michael Sedano (Letters Found in a Shoebox.)  It may be that "history is written by the victors," but since the struggle isn't over yet, who is to say who won or lost?  Cano, Sedano, and others recognize the value of writing down (preserving) that which has come before.  When we remember the successes and failures of the past, we can be inspired to act in the present.  The old truth is that we look to the past to avoid repeating mistakes in the future.  Even if that "truth" is false, it's a fine sentiment.  

Several individuals and groups have come together in a project organized around the basic idea that although massive changes (gentrification) may be the reality, the past is meaningful, sometimes sacred, and can and must be preserved, often by the people who created the history.  Artists, academics, poets, activists, and even a politician or two are involved in this project with the state historical museum, History Colorado.

Here's a flyer announcing the next event for the Northside Memory Project. All former and current Northside residents are invited to participate. 

The Northside is where I've lived for more than forty years.  Obviously, Northside history is part of my history, and vice versa.  Contact History Colorado for information about similar events in other Colorado neighborhoods.


Manuel Ramos lives in Denver. His latest novel, Angels in the Wind: A Mile High Noir, is a finalist for the 2022 Shamus Award in the category of Best Original Paperback P.I. Novel.

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Chicanonautica: The Hazards of Writing While Chicano

by Ernest Hogan 

I recently finished a novel and am thinking about what I’m going to do with it, how I’m going to market it, and to whom, which brings me to the uneasy subject of the hazards of writing while Chicano. Also, I need to send a tip of the Hogan sombrero to Daniel Cano for bringing up the subject here a while a back. It’s a subject I can’t seem to escape from.

Being tainted by the Billy the Kid/New Mexico Irish strain and having an Irish surname, it only confuses the issue. I outed myself as a Chicano in a letter to Asimov’s Science Fiction after Norman Spinrad, in his review of my novel Cortez on Jupiter, assumed that I was an Anglo. I still insist on calling myself a Chicano, because it provides a lot of information about me without having to go into a detailed bio. I don’t mind being published in Latinx anthologies, getting published is hard enough, and I can’t afford to get choosy. I’ve also been in an Afrofuturist anthology, no to mention all those white publications I’ve been in.

The problem is the word Chicano carries some complicated baggage. I once tried to explain it to a guy in Mexico, who ended up thinking I was from Chicago. East Coasters who only run across it via Hunter S. Thompson and cop shows get the idea that it refers to a cannibalistic tribe that cruises around in lowriders selling dope and looking for virgins to sacrifice. Chicanos also aren’t traditionally considered literate, let alone writers. My very existence tests the limits of a lot of imaginations.

Editors tend to like my work, but their bosses see “Chicano” as a limited, barrio market. It’s like going up to bat with two strikes against you. And then they still feel that you have to be careful when writing about “those people” because “they get offended.”  Besides, they’re looking for bestsellers that will start franchises and be considered for TV and movie adaptation.

The pendejada is that I don't write for a small group of barrio intellectuals. I see my books as selling like crazy, shaking the world. I’ve got fans scattered all over the planet. Also in the last couple of years, I've had inquiries for the TV/film rights to all three of my novels and one of my short stories, so this may not be delusions of grandeur on my part.

So, what do I do with a novel about a Chicano science fiction writer who loses track of where his life ends and the sci-fi begins?

Should I call it science fiction emphasizing the extrapolation on the development of artificial intelligence and nanotechnology into the Singularity with an alien invasion and a Swiftian satire on 21st century U.S.A. for laughs? Or speculative fiction? In ten years working in a bookstore, and more than that in a library, no one has ever asked to see any speculative fiction–does anyone know what it is? Dare I try to pitch it as a mainstream bestseller? Can a Chicano do that?

Let’s give that a try: “It’s a modern day Don Quixote with elements of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. In the traditions of T.C. Boyle, Kurt Vonnegut, William S. Burroughs, Harlan Ellison, and Philip K. Dick.”

Uh-oh. I swerved into sci-fi territory again.

That’s a Chicano thing, though, always sauntering off where we aren’t supposed to be. 

But then where am I supposed to be? Who says I can’t be a writer? And why not sci-fi? Ain’t the whole fonqui rasquache enchilada of La Cultura of the Latinoid continuum–my beat, home turf, barrio, whatever--full of weird stuff? And doesn’t that qualify as “write what you know?”

I guess the best thing to do is just do, be as Chicano as I can, go stark raving cucuy on their asses.

Stay tuned chamacos, it’s gonna be fun!

Ernest Hogan a Chicano writer, a writer who is Chicano, and a lot of other things. 


Wednesday, July 27, 2022


The Macondo Writers Workshop is an association of socially-engaged writers working to advance creativity, foster generosity, and serve community through their writing. Founded in 1995 by writer Sandra Cisneros and named after the mythical town in Gabriel García Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, the workshop gathers writers from all genres who work on geographic, cultural, economic, gender, and spiritual borders for an annual summer workshop with leading guest faculty from around the country. A guiding principle of our community is generosity and we are sustained by the ongoing support of donations like yours. As an entirely volunteer-run organization, all donations and gifts are used to fund and support the annual summer workshop. For more information, please visit If you have questions please email




Open Mic Reading: Thursday, July 28, 7-8:30 p.m. CST

Guest Faculty Reading: Friday, July 29, 7-8:00 p.m. CST

Open Mic Reading: Saturday, July 30, 5:30-6:30 p.m. CST



Register for all free three nights of readings. at



Readings are free and open to the public.



Donations are welcomed.




Tuesday, July 26, 2022

In the Best Modern Way: Among Artists

Street Scene Counterpoint

Michael Sedano

I planned wearing the same charcoal pin-striped suit I broke out for Margaret Garcia’s show in Ventura last year, but god punished me for being prideful and broke the top button on my suit. I wore the iridescent raw silk dinner jacket I bought when I had the suit made, the month before I left Korea, in 1970. The jacket fits, but I pretended not to notice and nothing broke nor tore nor had moth holes. I felt muy comfortable wandering around at Mario Trillo’s 75th birthday party and checking out the Saturday night street scene.

The pin-striped 1970 bespoke suit. Mario & Mario.

I walked out onto the boulevard into the teeming world of youth. I remember street fairs were exactly like this. Almost. The food truck is twenty-first century. The tattoos are definitely of this era, gorgeous work and not a hula dancer to be seen on forearms nor shoulders nor backs nor calfs nor thighs nor tummies, where glistening golden rings reside, not a hula dancer in sight. Ay de mi, lots of sights.


You gotta love it. Really. This is good. Exactly like a Human Be-In back in 1966. Different, of course; you can’t go home again. Ni modo. I love it, and this street scene repeats all the way down the street and pa’lla to where Pomona ends.
Pomona has wisely devoted this part of town to young people. I did my best not to gawk, nor take pictures. Leaving Mario’s party a couple hours later, my passenger, Pete, talks about the murderer he defended who’d had a shoot-out on the street we’re driving. Area needed urban renewal badly, que no? so Arts District it is.


Sedano and Mario Trillo

There’s a movie scene where Clark Kent flexes to leap from the earth dressed as Superman, when a fellow goes “whoa, bad outfit” and that’s how I feel as a passing kid fist bumps me saying “nice outfit!” Lot of fist bumping out there nowadays. I use my left or right fist to bump, wondering if I’m doing it wrong?

People window-shopping their way past the Da art gallery have no idea of the historic gathering of artists inside. Past the storefront glass the people laughing and eating tacos have work hanging at The Cheech and discerning museums around the world. This gaggle of party-goers includes some of today's best fine artists.

QEPD, Sergio Hernandez. Diane Hernandez smiles and looks forward.

Mario’s party has settled into that constant high pitch of milling crowds and seated conversations shouted above the throbbing rhythms of Chicano rolas when I notice a pair of black-clad chicanitas stop near the doors. Their eyes scan the art-covered walls and anonymous crowd standing, milling, sitting, and laughing like old friends.
One chicanita steps curiously into the room and I get a good look at her. She would not stand out on the street but in that vestibule she glows with beauty and youth. She’s a bit perplexed.
Ledean form a sixty-year-old smiling public man would find enchanting, a black halter covers tiny breasts above a flat belly, not muscular like a dancer or athlete, just a kid’s tummy boldly making a fashion statement against summer’s swelter. 
The friend, who’s hanging back, scans the room through the windowglass and steps back toward the sidewalk. The bold child turns to exchange a look with her friend. Their glance says, “These people are old. They’re wearing dresses, or suits and neckties. They are not of these times.” 
With their silent agreement, the two young females, all grown up and dressed to the nines, split.
I wanted to--and would have if I’d been at the door--carpe diem'd by sweeping the girls into the place all the way. Step inside for a big helping of cultura and tacos. I envisioned guiding them like I would my granddaughter, point to a painting, elicit a response. Here at the Da, the  kid would enjoy a rare privilege, she'd meet the artist and get a personal discussion.


David Botello's signature graces some of the world's most expressive murals.

David Botello signs the birthday mural

Raza artists--to a woman and man--would have greeted the kids lovingly, recognizing the magic of the moment. If only…Those two women, those kids, would leave the gallery knowing this is your arte, mi’jas, arte para la gente and Mario….But I watched them arrive, glance, and leave. 

They won’t give it a thought. Me, I’m left with a bittersweet taste of regret. So it goes. 


A curbside encounter brings immense satisfaction. In a counterpoint to what the young women missed, I get to answer a young artist’s pressing need when I decide to go out among ‘em, maybe to take a foto or two of a busy Saturday night in GOPlague time. A few people wear masks. I do.


Muralist Wayne Healey signs Mario's bi-national tacuche. Photorealist Arthur Carrillo observes.

A couple of boys say hi to me as we cross paths. We hitch a step to exchange desultory repartee about desultory matters then I turn to resume a path to the corner. Behind me a voice calls “hey do you take pictures?” so I wheel around and don’t turn on the camera.

The 100mm lens won’t work at face-to-face distance, so I cannot immediately snap the kid and his work. The boy carries a cork bulletin board he’s covered with pen and pencil drawings on 4x5 sticky notes. He corrects this, saying just papers. He’s proud of his work, happily explains it. He’s developed a story using pictures, but he’s concerned that he doesn’t know how to shade figures. He points to a figure closely resembling a Magu perro. I’m excited because  behind the boy is a Magu perro painted on a recently-dedicated mural honoring Magu. qepd.


As I’m about to do two things, first point out the mural second have the kids back up to fit the lens for a foto, a couple walks up and joins our collective. I love metiches, being one myself. The woman interrupts our conversation to tell me she’s curated numerous exhibitions. I ask the woman’s name. She tells me. Who’s he? I ask. She introduces the man with her. He’s a retired art teacher.


Serendipity? Destiny? Stupid America moment?

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Santa Barbara Inaugurates Two Youth Poet Laureates

 Melinda Palacio

Kundai Chikowero and Madeline Miller photo by Rod Rolle

Santa Barbara County's First Youth Poet Laureate is Madeline Miller, who was born in Mexico City and grew up in Santa Barbara. Her laurels wrap around poetry and community activism. She works as an assistant at a local law firm and holds several titles in slam poetry, including two first place titles at the 2021 San Marcos High School Poetry Slam and the 2021 Santa Barbara County Poetry Slam. Read Madeline's poem "Bird Song" and others by young poets at the SB County Youth Poet Laureate website.

The county's first Youth Poet Laureate Ambassador, Kundai Chikowero was awarded the Outstanding Youth Leader--the City of Santa Barbara in 2018. She has published two volumes of poetry and has won the Martin Luther King Jr. Essay and Poetry competition six times since 7th grade.

As a judge for the the Martin Luther King Jr. Contest, I've watched Kundai blossom over the years. This is a newly indoctrinated position and the young women are excited about their titles. Kundai said, "the groundwork has not yet been laid out," but she looks forward to more events.  Both youth laureates have done great work, well before the title was bestowed upon them.  Kundai shares two of her poems with La Bloga. 



By Kundai Chikowero



At the end of the day

When the news turns off

The paper discarded

The radio switched to aux

When sound is replaced with silence

Writing will still prevail


An art form existing beyond the voice of the speaker

One that can’t be powered off

Turned down

Or unplugged


You have a role

To act in the best interest 

And when the breaking news is censored

And the complicated conversation you do not want to address is still occurring.

Thank the writing


The form of writing so


Almost magical

The songs literacy

Preserved and distributed through paper


Because poetry is not just an art form

But a voice

Both quiet and loud

Explicit and vague


We must work as one

Listen as one

No us versus them


Or performative action

There will come a day when people remember their voice

And at the end of the day

We will use that voice





Kundai Chikowero



An irrelevant question

ludicrous, may I add

If a tree falls and no one is around to hear it

Does it make a sound?

To propose that existence

May only be in existence

If it is existing in perception of a human

Who is also existing

George Berkeley begs the question

Taking the action of existing

Away from the existee


And putting it on the perceiver


In vanity, the human experience

Has deviated from being on earth

To being just to be

egregiously expected to fund and sustain existence

From beings who cannot exist within themselves

With a higher level of consciousness

comes a greater responsibility

Existence is no longer left up to the earth

But maintenance lies on us

To carry what we create

As we will only go as far

As the load we create allows us to

Listening to our Elders


Passing on a lesson from generation to generation

     It was in the summer of 1958, Pacific Ocean Park’s opening, drawing 20,000 people. Word got around fast. The next day nearly 38,000 people showed up, even surpassing Disneyland’s summer attendance. I was nearly twelve, and I begged my mom to let me go with my friends, giving her the old argument, “Everybody is going.”

     POP was a state-of-the-art amusement park, built on a large pier, straddling the Pacific shoreline, in Ocean Park, a seaside suburb of Los Angeles, right beside the old Aragon Ballroom and Dome Theater, two establishments entertaining folks going back to the era of big bands and epic Hollywood movies. Ocean Park and neighboring Santa Monica had been drawing beach-going crowds, way back to the early days of Los Angeles, people escaping the inland heat, but now POP was built for the new baby boom generation

     POP didn’t only have an enormous roller coaster, rivaling the monster at Long Beach’s New Pike, but POP had all the newest rides and amusements, as well as a pavilion which featured live rock ‘n roll bands, big names as well as local bands, in those days, usually a four-piece band, bass, guitar, drummer, and a sax player, topped off by Battle of the Bands extravaganza. Wink Martindale, a rock ‘n roll radio and television host would be broadcasting his show—live, from POP’s porpoise aquarium. I had to go.

     After pestering her for days and telling her exactly which of my friends was going, she relented, but only after telling me she would be the one to drive us and pick us up.

     She didn’t have a hard time verifying the truth. My best friends, all of us interested in sports and music, lived either two houses down or someplace close by. She knew I didn’t hang out with any hoodlums in the neighborhoods, leftovers from the pachuco days, or the kids who trouble always seemed to find. My mother was a woman of mantras, as she once said, handed down from my Mexican grandmother, one generation to another. The one I heard most often was, “Dime con quien andas y te dire quien eres,” something like, “Tell me who you’re with, and I’ll tell you who you are.”

     So, the big day came, a Saturday. She dropped us off about 3:00 P.M., in the family’s used light green ’53 Chevy. She said she’d be back at 9:00 P.M. “sharp” to get us. I had about seven dollars in my pocket, mostly money I earned helping my uncle and older cousin in their gardening businesses in Westwood, and a couple of dollars my mom pitched in for me cutting the lawn and pulling weeds in our yard each Saturday morning.

     The rides were expensive, twenty-five cents each, and with food, the money didn’t go far. Luckily, a lot of the other stuff, like the bands and exhibitions were free. As darkness fell, I reached into my empty pockets, hoping to find a wayward quarter somewhere deep down, but no, nothing. 

     POP had been something of a family reunion. I ran into a lot of people I knew, many of my older cousins, their friends, and girlfriends. I’m not exactly sure how it started, but I think one of my cousin’s, Leo, asked how I was doing. I must have said something like, “Great, except I ran out of money.” Leo reached into his pocket, pulled out a quarter, handed it to me, and told me to have a good time. Man, that was easy. I thanked him and before long I ran into another cousin, asked to borrow a quarter, then another, same thing, and before I knew it, I was rolling in quarters. I rushed off to get on as many rides as I could.

      At nine, sharp, my friends and I met my mom right where she said she’d be waiting for us. Of course, she could see from the beam in my eye I’d had a good time. She didn’t ask me much more. My mom, and dad, had a way of getting us, kids, to talk. They would wait a day, until the stories simmered then ask us how it went.

     I remember telling my mom everything I’d done, the rides, the bands, the radio station, the music, etc. etc., oh, and seeing so many of my cousins there, of which she wasn’t too happy because, though she loved all my relatives, she wanted me to stay clear of those with bad reputations in the neighborhood.

     When she asked if I’d had enough money, I was honest, telling her I’d run out. I have no idea why, but I told her, proudly, how I’d borrowed quarters from a few cousins I’d run into. She flipped out! I can’t remember what she said, exactly, only that it was definitely a scolding, and a lecture, and ending with something like I’d better never borrow money from anybody again—ever! “If you can’t afford it, you don’t buy it.”

     We were quiet. Finally, she told me to make a list of everyone who had lent me money. When I finished, there were probably eight to ten names on the list, all older cousins who lived in the neighborhood. I remember her gathering up a bunch of quarters and giving them to me. She said I was going to return the money today. She’d drive me to each of their homes, and wait as I apologized for borrowing the money, and pay them back.

     “Apologize?” I was scandalized. I’d be humiliated. I didn’t actually think I’d have to pay them back. I mean, it wasn’t about the money. If they’d have asked me, I’d have given it to them and not expected to be repaid. It was just a quarter, and, besides, we were family, at least that’s what I thought.

     Desperate, I promised my mother I’d work, save the money, and repay them on my own, when I saw them at the park, or in the neighborhood. She was angry, furious, really, like I’d stolen the money. She said I had to return the money today, to not even wait another day.

     So, there we went. She pulled right in front of each home, and she waited in the car as I walked to the porch, knocked on the door, and dropped the money into my cousin's palm. A few of them were surprised and didn’t want to take the money. I told them I had to pay them back. They waved to my mother as I walked back to the car. She smiled and waved back, like everything was fine.

     I was nearly a teenager, at the time, my cousins in their mid to late teens. Even if some had already gotten into trouble with the cops, I still looked up to them. They were handsome Chicanos, out in public, hair immaculate. They were often decked out in pressed khakis, spit-shined French toes, and Sir Guy shirts, or Pendletons. They always had a girl on their arm, or so it seemed. Some even had cars. I shrank that day, placing a quarter into their palms, my mom’s lesson reminding me I was still a kid.  

     “You don’t live beyond your means,” is what she’d always say. “If you don’t have it, you don’t buy it.”

     My grandparents came from Mexico’s interior, during a revolution, five kids in tow, and they arrived in the U.S., minus one child who died in route. They had little money. Like many Mexican immigrants, of the time, they worked hard, saved, collected money from each working-age child, budgeted, bought a home, and started a new life without borrowing from anybody. Borrowing was a sign of “gente baja,” like exposing your business out in public for everyone to see.

     My grandparents’ story ran deep in my mother’s psyche, their struggles, their hard labor, and my grandmother’s saying, “If you make a dollar, you save fifty-cents.” A Chicana of the WWII generation, a cultural modernist, yet a fiscal conservative, it took my mother many years to even apply for a credit card, and when she finally did, she made sure she paid it off each month, explaining how the interest kept the borrower in debt and made the lender rich.

     She wasn’t a financial prude. She borrowed to buy our first home, preferring to take out a G.I. Loan, from the government, rather than a loan from a bank, which wanted to stretch the payments out over a longer period and collect more interest. Luckily, neither she nor my father had a need to buy expensive cars, clothes, or home furnishings, the financial downfall for many families, so, like any responsible business manager, she had a “reserve” in the bank. My mother’s preference was antiques, a connoisseur of early colonial American, and she’d wake at 5:00 A.M. each weekend to be the first at the estate sales in Beverly Hills and Bel-Air. She liked the idea of keeping history alive.

     For a time, my generation rejected the artificiality of commercialism. In the ‘60s and ‘70s, most students in America’s universities majored in humanities, the arts, and the social sciences, reading the great minds, and hoping to make the world a safer and better place. We converted vans into mobile homes and traversed the country, socializing, communing with nature, and seeking solace as our government waged an unjust war against a smaller country. Many returning veterans, who witnessed the ravages of war, firsthand, came home and shunned 1950s materialistic, militarist, industrial society.

     Somewhere along the line, everything tanked, our values and our morals. We picked up debt like everybody else. Our happiness became about money and possessions, pitting family against family, brother against brother. Today, a middle-class family doesn’t think twice about spending tens of thousands of dollars on the newest car or appliance, using a quick, efficient payment plan, and falling into the set jaws of the finance beast.

     We fill our garages with junk, and the Amazon truck loads our porches with boxes of what, we think, will bring us joy. We elect crooks, both parties, to high office and watch them take millions from unscrupulous corporations who demand their vote. They pollute the air and place weapons on war onto our streets. We missed the mark. Tent cities fill the sidewalks under freeway overpasses, and our fellow citizens look to alleviate pain by injesting powerul, deadly synthetic drugs. 

     I’m glad my mother’s words continue to ring in my ear, like Shakespeare’s Polonius, when an advertisement begins to tempt me, I can hear her say, “Mijo, neither a lender nor a borrower be,” and, if that doesn't work, what does is recalling the humiliation of walking to those relatives’ doors and placing a quarter into each outstretched hand.

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Echoes of Grace

By Guadalupe García McCall


Publisher: Tu Books

Language: English

Hardcover: ‎400 pages

ISBN-10: 1643794256

ISBN-13: 978-1643794259


In this triumphant new novel, Pura Belpré Award-winning author Guadalupe García McCall explores sisterhood, family secrets, intergenerational trauma, life, and love in a modern Gothic setting with a magical realist twist.

In Eagle Pass, Texas, Grace struggles to understand the echoes she inherited from her mother--visions which often distort her reality. One morning, as her sister, Mercy, rushes off to work, a disturbing echo takes hold of Grace, and within moments, tragedy strikes. 

Attending community college for the first time, talking to the boy next door, and working toward her goals all help Grace recover, but her estrangement from Mercy takes a deep toll. And as Grace's echoes bring ghosts and premonitions, they also bring memories of when Grace fled to Mexico to the house of her maternal grandmother--a woman who Grace had been told died long ago. Will piecing together the truth heal Grace and her sister, or will the echoes destroy everything that she holds dear?




* A nouveau gothic tale with roots as deep as mesquite and a heart as wide as the Texas sky. -- Kirkus Reviews, starred review

McCall weaves Mexican American and border town culture and lore into a realistic, raw, poignant portrayal of family tragedy, trauma, grief, and the healing power of facing the truth with a loved one at your side. -- The Horn Book

Riveting. -- Booklist

Many readers will recognize the social rhetoric that holds women and girls responsible for the violations enacted on them by others. -- The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books


Guadalupe García McCall is the best-selling author of Summer of the Mariposas and won the Pura Belpré Award for her first novel, Under the Mesquite. She was born in Mexico and moved to Texas as a young girl, keeping close ties with family on both sides of the border. Trained in theater arts and English, she is now an assistant professor of English at George Fox University in Oregon. Find her online at


Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Gluten-free Budget Elegance

The budget-conscious Gluten-free Chicano has taken to buying bulk packaged frozen chicken tenders and wild caught cod and shrimp. We're not big eaters and a bag divides out to 3 or 4 meals. Results may vary, as they say.

Recently, the grocery store added frozen Scallops to the freezer. Lamenting that a Scallop is not an Abalone, el Gluten-free Chicas Patas resolved to get a bag of Scallops and feast.

Seared Scallops and Coquille St. Jacques are the standard approach to cooking scallops, and those are outstanding meals. But there are other ways to serve the shellfish.

Here's a recipe that first ran in La Bloga-Tuesday Dec 7, 2015. In California and much of North America, grocers sell fresh toronja year-round, though it may have a different name: grapefruit, pamplemousse, pomelo.

In Montréal, order pamplemousse and you'll be corrected, "grapefruit, monsieur."

In Madrid, I ordered a jugo de toronja. The staff were mystified. "¿Que es eso, una toronja?" Redonda, amarilla, cascara gruesa, poquita amarga pero dulce. "Ah, si, Pomelo!"

The next day for breakfast I ordered a jugo de pomelo and there wasn't any. Instead the menu now read, "jugo de toronja." It was a good hotel.

The Gluten-free Chicano Cooks
Gluten-free Elegance With Mostly Left-overs
Michael Sedano, The Gluten-free Chicano

This is an incredibly simple dish, naturally gluten-free, richly riquísimo, adaptable for gente avoiding complex carbohydrates by using quinoa. And elegant as all get-out. The sweetness of baked grapefruit, the bitterness of the peel, the bite of lime, the superb sabor of aromatic saffron, the gentle butter-enhanced scallop flavor, create a complex dining experience that can't be beat.

In the morning, start the scallops defrosting. In the evening, prepare the other ingredients and pile them atop the shellfish. Preheat the oven to 350º.

Its secret is top-notch ingredients. Citrus fresh from the backyard tree or farmer’s market, good saffron, yesterday’s steamed rice, and salami from that football-watching party. Layer the ingredients in a bowl and let the juices flow through. Invert onto the bed of rice, and bake.

10 scallops, 5 per person is an adequate serving.
½ unpeeled toronja, chopped.
½ unpeeled lime, paper-thin sliced. Seedless, Bearss limes, are ideal.
½ cup crushed tomatoes
2-3 cups left-over rice (or cooked quinoa)
2 pinches of saffron threads
4 chopped peppered salami slices (bologna size or ¼" off a chub sliced very thinly then diced.)
½ cube unsalted butter
coarse sea-salt
black pepper

Baking Dish
Grease a shallow pie pan or casserole dish (non-stick spray or quality olive oil).
Line the bottom of the baking dish with left-over steamed rice or cooked quinoa.
Distribute  six pats of butter across the rice.
Crush a pinch of saffron across the rice.
Set aside.

I use Costco individually frozen 30-40 in a bag scallops. I count out as many as I want to serve. Five a plate is enough.

As the scallops defrost they exude flavorful liquid that, along with the toronja juice and tomato liquid blends into a delicious flavor and moistens the left-over rice or quinoa as the dish bakes.

Place frozen scallops in a bowl, sprinkle lightly with sea salt, cover and refrigerate. You can use the scallops when they're icy-soft, half-defrosted. Do not drain. Do this in the morning and go about your day. In the afternoon, let them sit on the counter while you prepare the toronja and lime.

Prepare the citrus. I cut the lime and toronga from stem to blossom end then thinly slice watermelon style. The lime should be paper thin. The grapefruit about a ¼".

Add the lime atop the scallops, then cover with chopped toronja.
Sprinkle a few grains of sea salt on the toronja. This liberates more juice.
Cover the toronja with crushed tomatoes and sprinkle a few grains of sea salt.

Let the bowl sit, covered, for half an hour as the scallops finish defrosting and to let juices begin to filter down. Now's a good time set the table and check the oven temperature.

Upend the bowl onto the bed of rice and spread the mixture to cover the rice or quinoa. Dot the surface with three pats of butter.

Crush saffron across the surface.

Scatter the chopped salami and season with a light dusting of black pepper and paprika.

Cover with aluminum foil.

Bake at 350º for 45 minutes or until scallops are translucent. If you started with still-frozen scallops extend the time to 60 minutes.

The rice absorbs the savory liquid, the citrus are soft, the scallops tender and moist. The buttery saffron flavor melds beautifully with the toronja and scallops, and the bite of lime and pepper salame accentuate themselves with every bite.

Bakes toronja and scallops makes a colorful dish that when finished looks great on the table straight from the oven, and gente can serve themselves. Use a hot pad and a tollala or glove.

Champagne would be an excellent beverage with this, but then, The Gluten-free Chicano consumes champagne as his adult beverage of choice, given the dearth of acceptable gluten-free birongas in the world.

Clean-up is a breeze. A bowl and a pie pan to wash, along with the usual tastes. You'll want to make this again and adjust for your oven and the doneness you like scallops, and vary it with cod or halibut, add chile slices, oranges or mandarinas to the baked citrus, endless possibilities.


Monday, July 18, 2022

Murmurs from the Inexhaustible Ancestral Source by Alain Lawo-Sukam Ph.D.

Murmurs from the Inexhaustible Ancestral Source

 by Alain Lawo-Sukam Ph.D.

Reading the verses of Lips of Stone is a mental exercise along the paths of the origins to (re)discover the elixir of Mexican identities. The text gives shape to the Olmec cultural ethos from within the shelter of a language that is living, varied and ethnicized, which allows it to become a literature “of identity,” as René Depestre calls it. This work constitutes a challenge to the language itself, to the fundamental medium through which the poet perceives and constructs her world. Linguistic interference (in this case, the use of English) is not only the fruit of scriptural trans-territoriality nor a simple linguistic game of translation, but allows a transmission of knowledge, of cultural heritage and effective communication between peoples. The English translation of Lips of Stone is by Sandra Kingery. In this multilinguistic and multi-perspectived context, the book forces us, as Borges would say, to see the threads that often remain invisible but that can nevertheless guide us or impede our progress. Xánath Caraza creates a space that allows the enquiry that questions without concessions, doing so with words rendered bare by the bard’s dexterity. The style is humble but natural and detailed in its descriptive thoroughness. The poems are constructed upon sound images that shape a universe that vibrates with rhythmic movement. The resounding symbolisms are doors that lead the lyric voice to find itself in the space and time of the heroes who, with their works, left an indelible mark on Olmec history and on humanity in general. 

Lips of Stone produces an enchantment whose cloth woven out of one small segment after another builds a tower of thoughts, memories and images. The reader is about to hear a voice that speaks for many other voices. Individual and collective identities sometimes tend to merge. The poetic “I” mutates into an organic group. The poet presents an “I” that fuses with a collective and plural “I” that penetrates past and present. Ultimately, the poet becomes the voice of the ancestors. In this respect, the poet philosophizes and recuperates the ancestral voice as she did previously with the Mayan tradition in Balamkú (2019), her bilingual poetry collection. Like a surgeon, Xánath Caraza wears the gloves of memory to dissect history and return to the ancestral past that has been forgotten, ignored, silenced or distorted in the collective imaginary. It reveals the axiology of a rich communitarian people who value rituals and spiritualism, interpersonal relationships and interdependence between nature and human beings. As the lyrical voice expresses in this poem, native peoples live to the rhythm of the flora and fauna that determine their destiny and the joy of their descendants: “I learned to be happy/ in the solitude of the jungle./ I had forgotten how./” (“In the Solitude of the Jungle”). The cosmological aspect of the ancestral tradition is reflected in the interconnectivity between that which is human and the universe. Whether the perception of phenomena is logical or illogical, human beings and animals live in a fundamentally communal universe. It is also a universe in which the Gods are humanized and people and especially animals are deified in idolatrous veneration. The jaguar, the serpent, the crocodile, and the quetzal, for example, are not only animals but deities. In the Olmec universe, human beings are material and spiritual entities. This ontology is rooted in the conception of the nature of reality and being as spirit and energy. This energy is materialized, for example, in the sculptures and colossal heads 1, 3, 4, 5, 8, and 9 that the poet illustrates masterfully in her verses. The ability to express the nature of the knowledge of the Olmecs whose meanings are transmitted through the symbolic imaginary such as gestures, words, rhythm, dance, and objects, allows the reader to begin to penetrate the epistemology of the Olmec people.

Memory allows the author to re-appropriate personal and collective history in order to reconcile with the ancestral culture. This way of affirming the national culture of the past is not mere chance since it is responsible, as the theorist Frantz Fanon notes (1963: 210), for an important change at the level of the psycho-affective equilibrium of that which is native.  Memory allows Xánath Caraza to reconstruct and provide coherence to the history that has been interrupted, altered or is in the process of being forgotten. The writer invites the reader to delve into this labyrinth of the Olmec world, be carried away by the music of her verses, discovering everything anew and looking beyond the words.

Alain Lawo-Sukam Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Hispanic and Africana Studies

Department of Hispanic Studies

Africana Studies program

Texas A&M University



Labios de piedra / Lips of Stone

by Xánath Caraza (The Raving Press, 2021)

Translated by Sandra Kingery

ISBN: 978-0-9989965-85