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Posts Tagged ‘fruit’

Una muestra (a sample) from another sublime Domingo de Ramos (Palm Sunday) in San Antonino Castillo Velasco.

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Under the lavender canopy of jacaranda, Jesús (wearing his red cape) and his burro enter the church courtyard laden with the rich bounty of the village.

More to come…

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To continue the grocery shopping theme…

Why is it that of the almost 1000 varieties of bananas grown in the world, grocery stores here in el norte mostly only sell the Cavendish?  Sheesh, even the smallest mercados in Oaxaca often have at least four varieties and sometimes more (depending on the season).  After all, there are eight types of bananas cultivated in Mexico.  The states of Chiapas (35%), Tabasco (25%), and Veracruz (13%), are the major producers, followed by Michoacán (6.5%) and Jalisco (4.5%), with Guerrero (3%) and Oaxaca (3%) bringing up the rear.

A variety of bananas at a market

Bananas outside of the mercado in San Pablo Villa de Mitla, Oaxaca – November 2016

Did you know that banana plants are not trees?  They are an herb and their “trunks” are made of overlapping leaves.  As for the origin of the word “banana,” it comes from the Arabic, banan, which means finger.  Thus, it makes perfect sense that the cluster of bananas growing on “tree” is called a hand.  (For more banana facts, check out All about bananas.)

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Banana “tree” outside Las Huamuches restaurant — between Santo Tomás Jalieza & San Martín Tilcajete, Oaxaca – February 2017

Now we come to the “heart” of the matter — the astonishing flower of the banana.  Given its resemblance in color and shape, it’s also known as a heart and is a show-stopper for anyone who has never before seen one.  It is often used in South Asian and Southeast Asian cooking, especially in curries, and a friend from El Salvador told me in his home country, the flowers are baked in the oven and eaten.  Apparently, according to this website, banana hearts are good for most everything that ails you.  Alas, while Mexico exports la flor de plátano, Moisés Molina, representative of Mexico’s Regional Association of Independent Producers and Banana Traders, lamented in 2000 that it was a pity they were consumed in China but not Mexico.

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Banana flower in San Andrés Huayapam, Oaxaca – December 2016

For those in the USA, enjoy your bananas while you can — according to Geo-Mexico, “The USA is the world’s largest importer of bananas and Mexico’s main foreign market, receiving 80% of all exports of Mexican bananas.”  Hmmm…  I wonder how long before the toxic, twittering human smokestack of polluted right-wing demagoguery wreaks havoc on that?

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Poco a poco (little by little) my ofrenda has been constructed and composed.  A yellow (the color of death in prehispanic southern Mexico) cloth covers two chests and papel picado, signifying the union between life and death, has been added.

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Photos of departed loved ones have been placed, along with apples, oranges, and nuts to nourish the difuntos, sal to make sure the souls stay pure, cempasúchitl and veruche (domesticated and wild marigolds) — their scent to guide the spirits, cockscomb to symbolize mourning, the previously mentioned flor de muerto from the mountains above Díaz Ordaz, and copal incense to draw the spirits home and ward off evil.

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Sugar skulls, catrinas, and a few of the favorite things of my parents, grandparents, and in-laws have also been added.  Lest the spirits become thirsty, there is water, mezcal, cervesa, and a bottle of port (for my mom) to drink.

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Last night, the candles and copal incense were lit to guide my loved ones to my Oaxaca home and, just to make sure, I sprinkled some cempasúchitl petals outside to help them find their way.

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It may not be the house where they lived, but I’m hoping they too believe, When you live in your heart, you are always home.

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October 30, 2016, around and about the valley of Oaxaca, preparations were underway for Día de Muertos.  Bread, fruit, chocolate, nuts, and flowers for sale spilled from mercados into the streets; the difuntos must be fed… and only the best!

Our first stop was Villa Díaz Ordaz for their first Expo Festival del Pan de Muerto.  It was day two of the 3-day festival and, of course, we were there early (around noon), but everyone was so warm and welcoming.  Hopefully, it will continue to grow in future years, as this is a sweet village in a picturesque setting at the base of the mountains.

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In Díaz Ordaz, they call these tiny, spicy-scented, lavender flowers “flor de muerto” and we were informed that they are even more important than cempasuchil (marigolds).

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After buying some surprisingly flavorful (whole grain!) pan de muerto for my ofrenda, we headed off to San Pablo Villa de Mitla.  Mitla has the most beautiful pan de muerto and two years ago we stumbled on their Pan de Muertos festival and competition.  A dazzling display of intricately decorated breads lined the sidewalks under the portales.  Alas, the festival was not continued, as their bread is in such demand, the bakers were too busy to take time out for an expo and competition.  So, like last year, we just enjoyed the sights and aromas of their bustling mercado.

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Have you ever seen so many varieties of bananas???  And, now for the famous  pan de muertos…

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Returning home, I added the bread and flor de muerto to my ofrenda.  Following a siesta, I ventured out into the streets of the city in search of a comparsa.  I never found it, but, as you could see from my previous post, the city was teeming with people and activity.  However, amid the merriment and mayhem, there were scenes of tranquility.

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A catrin ejecutivo?

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The copal incense beckoned the difuntos…  They began arriving this morning, seconds after midnight.

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Remember the pineapple growing in my rooftop container garden?  Upon returning from a week-long magical mystery trip (more about that to come) last night, I discovered mi piña was more than ready to harvest.

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The fragrance beckons… breakfast tomorrow!!!

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A year and a half ago, I cut off the top of a pineapple (piña, en español), stuck it in a ten inch pot in full sun, watered it very occasionally during the dry season, and it actually began to grow.  This member of the Bromeliaceae family is thought to have originated in the area between southern Brazil and Paraguay and spread throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.  Reaching Mexico, it was cultivated by the Mayas and Aztecs.  Spanish, Dutch, and Portuguese conquerors took it across the pond, and the rest is history.  No surprise, as the fruit (which resembles a pine cone — hence the name) is sweet, succulent, and ridiculously easy to grow!

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A symbol of home: warmth, welcome, friendship and hospitality.  The Welcoming Pineapple

Grown in the Papaloapan region of Oaxaca, the pineapple has inspired elaborate embroidery designs and the crowd-pleasing Flor de Piña dance.   What’s not to love?!

 

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Opening the door onto my terrace this morning, I was greeted with more pitaya flowers glowing in the morning light.  In the background, rain drops glistened on unripened fruit, as their dry spent flowers continued to cling to the fruit of their late night labor.Pitaya flower with unripe green fruit in backgroundBehind the chain link fence, one of my ripe Dragon Fruit is so close and yet so far.Red ripe Pitaya fruitHowever, there is more to come; blossoms preparing to burst open — for just one night.Two Pitaya blossomsFrom tenacious roots and branches of my previous post to fleeting flowers to long ripening fruit; such is the life of the pitaya.

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Another magical Domingo de Ramos spent in San Antonino Castillo Velasco.  Experiencing Palm Sunday in this small Zapotec village never fails to nourish the soul.

A band played outside the panteón as villagers, from niños and niñas to abuelas and abuelos, arrived bringing their biggest and most beautiful fruits and vegetables, breads and baked goods, carved wooden toys and embroidered clothing, not to mention, goats, chickens, rabbits, and even a pig or two.  Three silver-haired abuelas inspected each donation; their faces expressing gratitude and appreciation for each offering, as they affixed a price tag.  Following the procession to the templo and a mass, all would be sold to raise money for the work of the church.

These were offerings to San Salvador, who sat proudly atop el Señor del Burrito, who was up to his ears in produce and bread.

At 11:00 AM, after prayers were offered in gratitude and for continued abundance in this fertile valley, led by the beat of two tambors and the high-pitched lilt of a chirimía, a procession to the church began.  Palm crosses were distributed to villagers and visitors, alike, and many carried (or led, in the case of the livestock) the offerings that had been collected.

Once secured, it took twenty men to hoist and carry the bounty-laden anda, with San Salvador and the burro, a ritual reenactment of the Biblical story of Jesus entering Jerusalem riding on a burro to celebrate the Passover.  As the procession made its way to the church, the rhythmic sounds were occasionally overpowered by shouts warning the men of topes (speed bumps) and low hanging telephone wires that must be navigated, and then there were the stairs leading up to the church atrium.

I cannot begin to express how warm and welcoming the people of San Antonino Castillo Velasco were.  Countless times, as I was taking photos, officials encouraged me to come closer and villagers ushered me to the front.  How many magical experiences can one person have?

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