The Vine that Ate the South (and My Heart)

I ventured into the deep south for the first time last August on the Caravan for Peace with Justice and Dignity.  I was just this snot-nosed kid from El Paso who somehow managed to get on this bus comprised mostly of very brave Mexican activists who were following in the footsteps of Martin Luther King Jr. and being invited into the warm congregations of  African-American communities along the way. It was surreal, beautiful and humbling and I didn’t feel worthy. Everytime I think of that trip I get goosebumps. What an honor.  Continue reading

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Canelazo de Sotol

What is Sotol you ask? My mother thinks it tastes like fermented rope, but it is actually a liquor distilled from the Dasylirion wheeleri (also called Desert Spoon) plant common to the Chihuahuan desert. I have heard it referred to as “Tequila’s Northern Cousin” and it is beginning to gain a following in trendy Texan bars. Due to the holidays I find myself back in my childhood home which is just one mile north of the state of Chihuahua where the stuff is most widely produced. I personally don’t mind the taste which I would describe as grassy and a little smoky, but it is definately not for everyone.  My parents were given a bottle and it has been sitting in the kitchen collecting dust as no one seems to know what to do with it. Continue reading

Decolonized gut?

I don’t have the best record with this blogging thing. I’ve started several and always seem to abandon them after a week, but I have a feeling 2013 is going to be my year so I’ll give it another go. Some big things have happened in the last six months: I graduated from university, began working with an amazing non-profit, moved home for a spell to be with my father as he went through chemotherapy and radiation (and beat cancer!), and finally have decided to take my own health seriously.

This is why I decided to come back to blogging…I have some serious changes to make. As many a  24 year-old  in the 21st century living in the United States of America I’ve done some hard living. Long nights, stress, unhealthy food choices, and too many substances combined with a distrust of most doctors (and crappy insurance) is starting to catch up with me.

I’m lucky to live in Austin where there are plenty of alternatives in terms of approaches to health and wellness and found an integrative practice that focuses on nutrition and treating causes of poor-health rather than just masking symptoms.  After over an hour and a half with the doctor it was recommended I take several blood tests and avoid dairy and gluten for the time being. I was also perscribed some multivitamins and given tips on breathing exercises. Quite different from my other experiences with doctors! I walked out feeling pretty empowered, but later on the reality of these dietary changes began to sink in. It didn’t help that this news came two weeks before Christmas and I have been travelling non-stop since. It has been pretty terrible actually…everyone around me is munching on holiday food and drinking egg-nog while I eat dry vegetables and meat because it seems that everything contains gluten or dairy. A lot of this is just bad timing. Travelling means a lot of eating out and I am sure things will get easier with time. Right now though I am dreaming of  this…

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And I know there are some gluten-free, dairy-free alternatives to this, but it just isn’t the same.

I still plan to include Latin-American recipes using as many local and seasonal ingredientsas possible, but now I am going to have to be extra creative. I’ve enrolled in an intensive herbalism course that begins in January so I also hope to include some of that information. Afterall, my interest in herbal medicine comes from the older Mexican women in my life and only intensified through my travels.

I haven’t been this excited for a new year in a long time! I knew the world wasn’t going to end (more on that later…)!