Friday, September 25, 2009

Anthony Bourdain - No Reservations - Mexico City

Anthony Bourdain's "No Reservations" on the Travel Channel is one of my favorite TV shows. Here's an episode from last year of him coming to Mexico City. He had David Lida, a great American journalist living here, as a behind the scenes consultant during the episodes.

During the episode, he visits the nearby state of Puebla and tries mole negro, a chocolate-chili sauce extremely famous here. Chicken with mole negro might be my favorite dish here.

My biggest criticism with the episode is that he doesn't visit any high-end restaurants in Mexico, even though he often visits several high-end restaurants in other cities. I think it's too simplistic when talking about food in Mexico to just focus on the street food or the simple family eateries, especially when earlier this year a Wall Street Journal reporter went to great lengths to highlight the amazing fine dining options here. I remember watching some idiot on 'Top Chef' once claiming that Mexican found cannot be haute cuisine. Fortunately, he didn't win, and fortunately for Chicagoans, there's some amazing high-end Mexican food in the city, most notably the restaurants of Rick Bayless. Unfortunately, even some Mexicans don't realize their food can be like this (I remember a student a month ago commenting to me that Mexican food can't possibly be gourmet).

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Parque Lincoln

Abe Lincoln, above.
MLK, below.

I spent a decent amount of time in Polanco this weekend. I went to the apartment of an American there Saturday night who recently moved to D.F.; he's working for a bank here and lives just off Avenida Presidente Mazayrk, the most upscale shopping street in the city. What I love about Polanco is that it is one of the few walkable parts of Mexico City. You're within walking distance of many restaurants, shops, bars, and parks, and there's always a lot to do. Where I live, I always have to take a bus or taxi to get to anywhere interesting, so it's very nice to be in a neighborhood where you can walk to most places.

My church is fairly close to Polanco, and after church today I went with a few people to have coffee in Polanco. Beforehand, we stopped by Parque Lincoln (Lincoln Park ... hmm, that name sounds familiar). This park has two amazing statues, on separate sides of the street, facing each other. A statue of Abraham Lincoln on one side of a street directly faces a statue of Martin Luther King, Jr. Both statues were donated by the United States government. One of the guys in my group said that when he was learning English, he watched the "I Have a Dream" speech, and was moved to tears.

It was really interesting to see these statues, especially considering that I'm currently reading "To the Mountaintop," a biography of MLK, but more specifically, a biography also about his faith. It's fascinating to read about how certain he was of the rightness of his mission, as well as his acceptance and understanding that he would eventually be assassinated. It's also interesting to read that he reluctantly came to his position as a civil rights icon; he initially was much more interested in being a theology-oriented, middle-class pastor. MLK's biography also has a fascinating interlude about Lincoln's visit to Gettysburg. Last year, I read "Team of Rivals" , a fascinating biography of Lincoln's ability to bring his rivals together in his administration, and ever since then I've really come to see him as our greatest President. In a society such as Mexico, where racism isn't literally as "black and white," but nonetheless is a significant problem, it's nice to see the recognition of two seminal figures who fought for human equality.

Monday, September 14, 2009

U.S. Ambassador's Visit

Article on the visit to Tec by the U.S. Ambassador (in Spanish)

Sunday, September 13, 2009


So, I am definitely happy the football season is upon us. I enjoyed watching the Michigan-ND game yesterday, as well as the OSU-USC game at night. Hopefully I'll be able to watch Northwestern games at times. I'm going to an authentic local eatery tonight (Hooters) to watch the Bears game. And I'm playing fantasy football for the first time in several years. I got Tom Brady and Randy Moss on my team. Some expert claimed that any team with the two of them on it would be (barring injury) guaranteed to win your league. We'll see. I'm able to watch nearly all the American sports I want through either or, and am now watching Tiger close up his victory in Chicago.

Things are going well here in Mexico City. Last weekend my friend Adam visited me, we stayed in the city the whole time and spent the weekend taxi-ing around saw most of the neighborhoods. We also both lost a tacos-al-pastor eating contest to a girl (I had 12, Adam stopped at 13 when he saw Dolores eat her 14th and knew she could keep going). We went to the top of Torre Latinoamerica, a major DF landmark.

Monday night, the newly confirmed U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, Carlos Pascual, came and spoke at my school. He gave a very interesting speech about the lessons learned in fighting organized crime in America. In the past few years, the government of President Felipe Calderon (who was elected in 2006 to a six-year term (re-election to President is prohibited in Mexico)) has began a major military assault on organized crime. Thousands of Mexicans have died by the hands of these newly desperate gangs since then, but I believe the severe weakening of these gangs (which has begun to happen) is necessary for Mexico's long term success. So many businesses, especially in the northern states where the battles are the worst, cannot do anything without having to pay an extortion fee to these gangs. Selling a house? The gangs demand 10% of the sale price. I was and am very impressed by the determination of my Ambassador, and the Mexican government, to destroy these gangs and bring greater peace and prosperity to the Mexican people.

Mexico had a bit of a scare with an airplane hijacking this past Wednesday, but it was quickly and peacefully resolved. That same night, the Mexicans beat Honduras 1-0 at home at Azteca (thanks to the Chicago Fire's Cuatehemoc Blanco's penalty kick). The U.S. won at Trinidad that night to take sole possession of first place in the group standings, and with two games remaining in North and Central American World Cup qualifying, the U.S. and Mexico both seem good picks to qualify for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. There have been heavy rains this week, but the severe drought affecting Mexico and Central America, the worst drought in 60 years, still continues.

School is going well, and I like the people there. Independence day is coming up, it is celebrated on the the 16th of September. Next year is Mexico's 200th anniversary of independence from Spain. Today I had the traditional Independence Dish, Chiles en Nogada, and definitely enjoyed it. I also just checked out a cookbook by Diana Kennedy, the resident expert (and snob) of Mexican gastronomy.

I hope to get to the beach soon. Very, very soon.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Ask A Mexican!

For all those questions you've had about Mexicans and Mexican culture ...

This column has been going on for a couple years. Every week, a Mexican American answers, usually sarcastically but always in a hilarious manner, readers' questions about Mexican and Mexican culture. Very good stuff.

Great Michigan game today ... Go Blue!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Other Mexico City Blogs / Magazines

Here's some good links on other similar blogs about foreigners living in Mexico City: - Journalists living in Mexico City - American couple living here - A Brit living herer

And one English magazine about living in Mexico:

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