Thursday, March 26, 2015

more jacarandas and life by the Monument to the Revolution

I´m still enjoying greatly the jacaranda trees in bloom! And this time, there was this beautiful one by the Monument to the Revolution (Monumento a la Revolución). And nearby, people enjoyed the afternoon by the fountains. And nearby, I could enjoy a delicious Mexican craft porter with wedge fries, on a couch, with a view to the monument. So simple. So blissful.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Jacarandas, jacarandas, jacarandas

The city's blooming with gorgeous jacarandas! I love their shade of purple, I love the gnarly trunks of the trees, I love how the flowers fall and leave a purple carpet on the ground. We might not have Toronto's cherry blossoms anymore, but at least we have jacarandas! 

Along Paseo de la Reforma...

At the Alameda Central...

By the Palacio de Bellas Artes...

That Sunday the air was a bit cold, it was cloudy, there was this feeling of a late winter afternoon way up north. Beautiful.

Friday, March 20, 2015

back at Volver

Yep, we cam back to Volver (which in Spanish means, surprise! to come back!) for more Sunday vegan brunch yumminess. And we got it! I was dying to try their vegan shakes. Well, the fruit was so sweet I was convinced they had added sugar! But the huz, who's got a much more refined palate than me, gave his verdict - no added sugar, pure and simple sweet bananas and berries. Whoa!

Though I felt like having the waffles again, the vegan enchiladas were just too tempting, with almond and herbs based ricotta, a sauce to die for, and tempeh! Super absolutely delicious! 

So, it's official. This is our new vegan Sunday brunch place! Hurray!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Revelations - from what's hidden to what's evident

This is one complex post for me to write... The motek invited me to attend the biggest event of Mexico City's Jewish community - The Aviv Festival. This by itself is nothing complicated to write about. It's a Jewish and Israeli dance competition that lasts for about a week, and takes place at the Centro Deportivo Israelita. See? Simple! But then again not.

It has been one big cultural shock to get introduced to Mexico City's Jewish community. In Toronto, the Jewish community very publicly celebrates its culture through film, music and art festivals, where an important number of non-Jews participate. The Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre (MNJCC) is not shy at all about opening its doors for film festivals and for a religious holiday or two, widely advertising them and really leaving the doors wide open for everybody, regardless of background or religion. In sum, it's as open a community as you could imagine. And one of the reasons I felt comfortable enough to not only recognize my somewhat-recently discovered Jewish roots, but to identify with them and celebrate them.

Enter Mexico City. Though its Jewish film festival is advertised and public of all sorts attend, and a recently renovated historic (non-operating) synagogue in the historic centre has taken as duty to organize a number of cultural activities designed to share Jewish culture with non-Jews, most other cultural affairs take place practically behind closed doors. Doors that lead to veritable fortresses. Apparently as a reaction to the heinous bombing of the AMIA (the Argentinean Jewish Community Centre of Buenos Aires) in 1994, where 85 people were killed and 300 injured in a car bomb attack, Mexico City's Jewry decided to take no chances, and plenty of Jewish institutions protect themselves now behind gigantic walls, have airport-like security screenings, do not appear on maps, and/or don't advertise their events outside the community. In other words, were it not for the motek, who took it upon himself to share with me his Jewish world here, I'd pretty much be a veritable outsider (more than what I am right now).

So the Aviv Festival, while just another dance festival, is not just that. I found myself being constantly reminded of security concerns, in the form of metal detectors, numerous security personnel, and a thorough security briefing before the start of the competition, with clear instructions on meticulously planned evacuation routes and procedures. That was different indeed, eh?

Then, I found myself surrounded by some 5,000 Jews, probably the most numerous Jewish gathering I had ever seen in my life. And I was definitely not part of the crowd, as the - slightly misguided though well intentioned - comments from my motek's friends made clear as they explained to me numerous aspects of Jewish life. Me, not having participated in this city's Jewish experience, didn't feel secure enough to say "Yo, I'm one of you, remember?" because, frankly, was I? Had I not had the chance to live in Toronto, were Mexico City my only opportunity to experience Jewishness, would I have gone beyond simply taking passive note of family history facts?

That being said, and on a lighter note, one of the main reasons I did want to come along and why I enjoy Jewish cultural events so much: I got to see numerous interpretations of what being Jewish is about. And through dance no less! Inspiration came from all corners of the Jewish imaginary - kibbutzes, Georgia, the Arab world, Greece, Persia, the Orthodox, the Tanakh or Hebrew Bible... Yes, this was an amateur competition, but some groups were indeed outstanding. I was there to see a cultural happening, from all its angles. Interestingly, people rooted for their dance groups just as loud and enthusiastically as they would root for a sports team! fun! Plus (and it's a big plus) I got to see the motek dance and to *shlep serious nakhes from that.  

The following video is taken from afar and from a weird angle, so take it just as a document from the festival, and feel absolutely free not to watch it. I'm including it because, well, this is as much a blog for others as it is a diary for me, so I want it here, right?

All in all, a unique experience, from whichever side I look at it. And I can't but thank the motek for taking the time and interest to show me.  And the huz for letting himself be dragged to it and keep me company. Ah, yeah, this year's theme? Revelations - from what's hidden to what's evident. From my own very personal point of view, this couldn't have been a more appropriate title.   

*to shlep nakhes - could be vaguely translated as to feel proud

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Henri Cartier-Bresson at the Palacio de Bellas Artes

If you're in Mexico City anytime between now and mid-May, you might want to head to the Palacio de Bellas Artes (Palace of Beaux Arts) for this very complete and fascinating exhibition of photography by Henri Cartier-Bresson. Considered the father of photojournalism, it's amazing realizing his eye for lines, shapes, location, movement... And you get to see so many of his super famous photos, like Behind the Gare Saint-Lazare. Simply astonishing. 

Monday, March 16, 2015

random Mexico City view

An upside down graffiti of someone with indigenous Mexican features breaking a rifle in two. A jacaranda tree in full bloom. People on bikes enjoying the closing of streets near the historic centre. Mexico City, sunny Sunday afternoon.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

vegan brunch is back in our lives!

You might remember there was this place in Toronto (Fresh on Spadina) where we used to have brunch Sundays. It was vegan. It was nearby. It was damn good. 

Well, 6 months after leaving Toronto, we've finally found a fantastic candidate for our Sunday brunches! Volver, in the ever more hip Roma Norte neighbourhood. Mind you, it's not a vegan restaurant per se, but the vegan selection sure rivals all other vegetarian/vegan stuff I've found! Plus, the place is nice, the area is nice, and there are options on the menu for me!!! Yay!  

We started with vegan waffles with berries and peanut butter. Crazy filling, and good. I'm not raving about it just yet because I fear the memory of my Fresh on Spadina pancakes is still fresh in my memory, and waffles seem sort of funny compared to pancakes. But I'm coming back for more! Or maybe for the vegan enchiladas? or the day's vegan special? and a vegan shake? So happy to have found this place!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

just another Mexican cityscape

Walking around Mexico City's Juárez neighbourhood, this corner caught my eye: an old house with tiles in the middle, surrounded by modern towers and a bus stop. Strangely, it reminded me of an image in Singapore - old colourful houses with skyscrapers as background. Not the same, for sure. But close enough to have brought that image to my mind.

Friday, March 13, 2015

real food, finally!

Because when the huz is back from his month-long sojourn in Andalusia, fresh salads are back, and stews, and porter beers, and espresso, and dessert (Catalonian chocolate anybody?)... Long live the huz!