26 May 2014

Abastos Market

We finally found the import store everyone keeps telling us about.  So that we'll remember where it is, and so that you can find it too if you want, it's on Calle 4 next to the big produce place that's numbered #428 (so the import store would probably be #426 if it were numbered).  It's next to all the fondas.  It had a wide variety of food from the Middle East, India, east and southeast Asia, Europe, and the US.  The prices were similar to what I've seen elsewhere, or maybe slightly cheaper, but they had more things than anyone else I've seen. I ended up with rice noodles, sesame oil, tofu, and Chinese egg noodles

We tried some wheat from Calle 8.  Hopefully this time it'll be good and worth go back to that store. It seems to be impossible to find wheat here that is ready to grind, but we always search for the cleanest wheat possible.  The second time we bought a big bag of it, it seemed to be soft wheat and made pretty sorry, sticky bread.

We bought some different cocoa from a store on the eastern end of Calle 6.  It was a tenth of the price of imported Hershey cocoa, even in Abastos.  We'll see if it makes decent brownies, but it was cheap enough that it wouldn't be the end of the world if it's nasty.

23 May 2014

12 Years a Slave

I haven't seen the movie, because I see almost no movies, especially here because we're not bothering with a VPN, but I can always read the book, especially if my dad recommends it.  I can see why this was made into a film that won a bazillion awards.

I'm glad the film will probably get this book onto public school reading lists.

20 May 2014

We went down to the Basilica on Saturday night and there was a concert going on.

17 May 2014

Eternal Spring

We're getting closer to the end of the hot, dry season in Guadalajara.  We had an unusual and lovely rainy day on May 7th, but we've also had rain in the evening or night several times.  The rainy season doesn't officially begin until there's more rain, or at least more consistent rain, but even just a little is nice.

The dryness hasn't been a problem though, at least for me.  I grew up in Utah so a few months of very low humidity here isn't a big deal.  I'm finally drying out after a year in Virginia.  The dry air is also ever so much cooler which is nice since it usually gets to 90 degrees here in the afternoons.

And 90 degrees isn't that bad.  I'm looking forward to cooler weather, of course, but it's just 90 in the afternoons.  Since it's dry and we're a mile up, it cools off very quickly when the sun goes down and stays cool till late morning.  It's rarely too hot for me to go shopping.  And there's usually a breeze to make everything even nicer.

So I'm not quite as skeptical about people calling Guadalajara's weather eternal spring.  Yes, 90 is too hot for spring, but I can live with this weather for a few months while we wait for the rain and cooler temperatures in the summer.

15 May 2014

The Piano Tuner

This was a recommended book about Burma.  I really liked it in many ways, but near the end the plot sort of fell apart for me.  There was one subplot that just didn't work for me, and the very end was off too.  But I still enjoyed reading it.

It's been compared to Heart of Darkness and that's a good comparison, although it's not anywhere near as oppressive as that book.

12 May 2014

Fish with Rajas and Crema

This fish is amazing.  You can also make it with chicken, but since fish and chicken cost about the same amount here, and since fish is always easier to deal with, I do fish.

About 3/4 kilo fish fillets
Lime juice and salt
2 T oil
1/2 onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large poblano's worth of rajas
1 cup crema (it would be better to use cream instead of sour cream here)

Rinse the fish, set it on a plate, sprinkle with salt and lime, cover, and stick in the fridge for an hour, or as long as you have.

Heat 1 T oil and cook the onions till they're lightly browned, then add the garlic and rajas and cook 2 minutes, then add the crema and cook a bit longer till it's a lovely sauce.  Add salt to taste.  Cook the fish in a different skillet with the rest of the oil, then spoon the sauce over the top to serve.

Or you can make it easier.  After the garlic and rajas have cooked a bit, add the fish.  Cook on one side and flip to finish cooking.  Add the crema after you've flipped the fish.  Add salt to taste and serve.

09 May 2014

More Tlaquepaque

Echo in Time

This is the sequel to Erasing Time.  I probably liked the first one better, but this was still fun to read.  It's also nice to read a sequel that's its own story instead of dragging out the first and waiting for the next book.

Raspberry Crumble

We had raspberries, like usual now, but unfortunately not enough butter for pastry to make a galette.  So we tried this raspberry crumble.  It was easy and it didn't matter than I didn't even have enough butter for this recipe and substituted half of it with olive oil.  It's also not very sweet.  Yum.

500 grams raspberries
1 T sugar

225 grams whole wheat flour
110 grams butter, or half butter and half olive oil
3-4 T sugar (you can add more- the original recipe called for 6 T, and you can use brown sugar if you have it)

Preheat the oven to 175/350.  Combine the raspberries and 1 T sugar and dump them  in a pan.  I have no lovely fluted dish so I just used a regular cake pan and it was just right.  Spread them around so they cover the pan evenly.

Combine the flour and butter/oil with a pastry blender or you can use a food processor if yours is large enough which mine isn't but the pastry blender works fine.  Add the sugar and stir it in.  Dump the crumbly stuff on top of the raspberries and spread it around, then bake for 30-40 minutes.  It won't look any different on the top, but the raspberries will be cooked underneath.

08 May 2014

The Sweet Life in Paris

I enjoyed this one even though I'm not a Paris person.  There are lots of short chapters, all with amazing recipes that I can't make in Mexico because Mexico has no decent chocolate.  If you live in a place with chocolate, you should get this book and read the whole thing. Or even if you don't, like me, you can think about chocolate while you read it.

It's not just about food though, but about living in Paris.  Lebovitz does a good job describing that life.

It really just proves that travel writing is about the writing, not the travel.  Interesting destinations help, but traveling to some fantastic place doesn't mean you'll automatically write a decent book about.

07 May 2014

Mexican License Plates

I've always liked looking at license plates wherever I'm driving.  Except in Kyrgyzstan since they're pretty much boring there, except to ponder why the government decided license plates in Kyrgyzstan would use the Latin alphabet.

But Mexico is fun.  Its 31 states and DF get to choose their designs and have been able to since 1998. I guess everyone had the same federal design before that.  Here in Jalisco, we have two styles with Minerva (she's a big statue in the middle of one of the traffic circles between downtown and the arches) and an agave plant.  The agave plates are older and the Minerva design replaced it a few years ago.  I generally see many more Minerva plates, although that depends on where I am.

With just two Jalisco designs that aren't very colorful, you really notice when there are other states around.  We obviously mostly see plates from surrounding states.

Durango's most recent plate is very colorful and I always love to spot that one.  I don't think I've ever seen the Pancho Villa plate, but I'm watching for it. I've never seen the most recent Nayarit plate either(and I really like it), but I see the Riveria Nayarit plates fairly often.  We see Colima around sometimes too, and the most recent Aguascelientes plate, and Queretaro's disappointingly boring new design. The most recent Michoacan plate is pretty common, but they're boring too (why did they replace those butterflies?). Guanajuato has Hidalgo on their newest plate, obviously, since it was the bicentennial of the Mexican War of Independence and it all started in Guanajuato with Hidalgo. And we see Sinaloa quite often.  We always think it looks like a Florida plate, even though it's not an orange.

But there are others I hope to see around.  Coahuila has a dinosaur now and some of their older plates are good too. The new Chiapas plate would be hard to miss. The Yucatan plates all have pyramids, not surprisingly, and Quintana Roo (which you have to admit is the coolest state name ever) has swordfish which would improve any state's design.

And if I could see the brand new Campeche plate, I would count living in Mexico as a success.

Lost on Planet China

This was recommended by an expat in China.  Troost is a travel writer, not a China guy, but he's not trying to pretend to be a China guy.  The beginning was a little slow because Troost rightfully assumes most of his readers know nothing about China, so it's pretty basic, but he's so fun to follow around China that it didn't matter much.  And it doesn't take long for him to quit mentioning the toilets (mostly) and the habits of some Chinese that irritate him.  Some travel writers never manage to do that.

He covers a pretty large chunk of China, even if he decides that he doesn't need to go to Xinjiang because he wouldn't learn anything more there about China than he did in Tibet.  I obviously disagree, but I can also understand why he assumed that, and why you'd skip that part anyway.  It's a long way from the rest of China.  But he does go to Tibet, and Dunhuang, and everything you're supposed to go to in the eastern half of China.

Troost always, always writes from his very western viewpoint and is great at describing what he sees.  This is not the place, however, to get into why things are the way they are in China.  I expected to be annoyed, but Troost writes well enough that I could overlook some of my usual travel book complaints.  So read it, but read some better books about China too, especially if you're going there.

06 May 2014


We went out to Tlaquepaque yesterday.  I'd been there once before, but it was mostly for shopping and we didn't look around that much.  There isn't much to see since it's a shopping and restaurant destination, but we still had fun poking around the parts that weren't for shopping and eating.

There are also some interesting art galleries and a few stores I like there, but mostly it's not really my thing.  Tonala is better.  The stores in Tlaquepaque that I do like are around Juarez by Francisco de Miranda and Alfareros.  There's a tile store (one of the few we've found so far in Mexico), textiles, one with indigenous designs (including a unique but large and fairly expensive nativity that we'll keep in mind), and an art gallary my husband loved.

I like it when churches are decorated with things that are made locally, so the glass inside the churches was nice.

02 May 2014


We tried machaca last night.  It's a northern Mexico thing, but I see it for sale here fairly often.  We liked it, but I didn't love it and I doubt I'll buy it again because it's fairly expensive and I'd rather have fish.

I made a more traditional recipe where I just cooked the meat with eggs and served it with a tomato sauce rather than putting the tomatoes in with the machaca and eggs.  We ate it on flour tortillas (since it's a northern thing) and I made rajas to go with it.