Category Archives: Culture

Day 118 – Tomato

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I am grateful for Tomato.  I absolutely love the flavor and the versatility of it.  There are so many ways of preparing and eating it.  So far, I don’t think I have encountered one I do not like.  Whether I just eat them raw, cut into slices or cubes with some sea salt and pepper or I use them to create a tomato sauce or I make them part of a vegetable dish, it always does the job.  Even though it is widely used a vegetable, a tomato is actually categorized as a piece of fruit.  I am very amused by all the stories of its origin, but as linguist I was mostly fascinated by the Italian story.  You see, in Italian Tomato is “Pomodoro”, which comes from Pomo d’Oro, literally translated as “Apple of Gold”.  When the Tomato was brought from Central and South America to Europe, it was introduced into Italy as a golden yellow piece of fruit.  When people started cultivating the Tomato in Sicily and the South of Italy the  favorable warm climate gave the Tomato its beautifully soft and deep warm red color.  However, people still nowadays keep on calling a Tomato “Pomodoro” even though it is not really yellow anymore.  A fun fact related to that is that the first cookbook containing Tomato recipes was published in Naples in the 17th Century.  Anyway, there are obviously many varieties of tomatoes – about 7500 of them – and you find them in all kinds of colors, including green, yellow, orange, pink, black, brown, ivory, white, and purple.  I love all of them and I am excited to discover new ways of cooking or eating them.

Day 114 – Guacamole

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I am so grateful for Guacamole!  I just love everything about it.  And I am so lucky to be right here in Mexico City right now, because Mamá Laura makes the best Guacamole.  There are obviously a lot of different recipes and she even uses several different ones on different occasions.  For today she decided to make one including avocado, tomato, onion, cilantro, sea salt and habanero.  Mostly the habanero made the difference.  It brings that particular flavor and that unavoidable spiciness, which makes it all the better.  I honestly think I could eat Guacamole everyday.  Maybe I should.

Day 112 – Papaya

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I am grateful for Papaya.  It’s such a great, delicious and beautiful piece of fruit!  It’s also so culturally connected.  In Belgium it is hard to get fresh Papaya and it’s usually very expensive.  Here in Mexico I eat Papaya almost on a daily basis.  It’s so great to start your day with a plate of fresh watermelon, pineapple, melon or Papaya.  It makes me feel great and healthy.  But besides all of that, as I said, I just think it is such a beautiful piece of fruit.  It’s nature’s work of art.

Day 110 – Chilaquiles Verdes

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I am grateful for Chilaquiles Verdes.  I don’t exactly know why, but I always considered them my favorite Mexican dish.  I just absolutely love them.  Ask any of my Mexican host moms and they know this.  This picture is taken during breakfast here in Mexico City and thus an example of my Mexican Mamá Laura’s amazing recipe.  I’ve mentioned before how great a cook she is, but I am amazed how she can even turn the most simple dishes into a festival of flavors.  Chilaquiles basically are fried corn tortillas, cut into triangles – often called totopos – simmered in a green or red salsa.  My favorite variant are the green ones.  I think mostly because there’s just no way for me to make them in Belgium.  It’s so hard to find the green tomatoes, while here you find them in any grocery store or supermarket.  As I mentioned this picture was taken during breakfast, because Chilaquiles are considered a typical breakfast dish.  However, you could also have them as a light lunch or I even enjoyed them tonight as part of my dinner.  You can find them in many regional or even personal variants and they are most commonly topped with onion, cheese and cream.  Some people also combine them with shredded chicken and they often come with a side of refried beans.  A perfect example of how Mexico has some amazingly simple but absolutely delicious dishes.  And I am not kidding when I state that I totally love Chilaquiles Verdes.  Only writing this blog entry makes me want to sneak back into the kitchen to have some more.

Day 109 – Teotihuacan

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I am grateful for the wonderful wonder called Teotihuacan.  It is absolutely amazing and breathtaking.  Being there gives me an inexplicable feeling.  It makes me very aware of who I am and what my place is in this universe.  Yet at the same time it also reinforces my belief that we are able to do so much as human beings.  Look at the wonders we created!  It’s almost incredible.  Teotihuacan also showed me my personal perseverance when I visited this ‘City of Gods’ (which is a close translation) for the first time.  This was in 2009 and at that point I had broken my foot.  From the bus I made it to the pyramid of the Sun, which is the one you see behind me in the picture, in a wheelchair.  At that point my determination took over and I decided to leave the wheelchair at the bottom of the pyramid.  I, myself, started the climb for the top.  On my butt.  My broken foot straight up in the air, my arms and my other foot pushing myself slowly but steadily up towards that very, very, very high top up there.  I don’t remember how long it took me, but I know that I made it.  There was no other way.  I would not give up.  I remember being up there and having two main thoughts, one slightly later than the other one:  Oh my God, I made it! I can’t believe it!  Followed by:  Oh dear God, I have to get all the way back down…  I remember being back down.  Broken.  My arms trembling, my hands bleeding, my pants ripped.  But I had made it!  I had climbed a pyramid all the way!  On my butt.  Yay me!  Yay determination.  The next time I went, about a year later, I remember climbing it using my two feet and just laughing all the way.  Last week, I was here for the third time and the place just never seizes to amaze me.  It’s such a gorgeous and fascinating place.  There is still so much to learn and discover.

Day 107 – Tortas

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I am grateful for my Mexican Mom’s amazing Tortas.  They are so delicious!  A torta is basically bread – of any kind, whether it’s just a regular sanwich or a panini as is the case in this picture – with something in between.  Again this “something” could really be anything.  I’ve had so many different ones already I cannot remember a single one I haven’t enjoyed.  This particular one contains tomatoes, mushrooms, rajas, zucchini, beans and chili.  Yummy!  How could I possibly not be grateful for this?  Oh, by the way, this particular Torta was what I had for breakfast one day.  The way to start your day!

Day 98 – A Healthy Breakfast Hors d’Oeuvre

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I am so grateful for A Healthy Breakfast Hors d’Oeuvre.  Here in Mexico breakfast consists of more than just one course.  In Belgium I would just eat a sandwich or a bowl of cereal or oatmeal.  Here we start our breakfast meal with A Healthy Breakfast Hors d’Oeuvre:  Every day we first eat some fruit, whatever it may be.  This morning I savored this lovely plate of fresh banana, papaya, mango and figs.  Delicious!  And that’s only the beginning of our breakfast.  I followed it today with some yummy sopes, tamales and hummus with raw mushrooms.  It is always a party and such a great way to start your day.  I know that I’ll always have my vitamins for the day and I just feel the difference.  I love combining it with some nice juice, like this combo of orange and grapefruit.  Or  this afternoon I had a sweet combo of strawberry, mango, papaya, pineapple and coconut.  Mouthwatering!  Yay for fruit and yay for having it on a daily basis as a Healthy Breakfast Hors d’Oeuvre.