Monday, November 17, 2008


I came across this young butcher preparing an armadillo at Mexico City's Mercado San Juan, the market that caters to professional chefs, discerning home cooks, and French people.
Aside from armadillo you'll also find live gusanos (worms from the maguey cactus), fried chapulines (grasshoppers), and escamoles (ant eggs), when they're in season. There are excellent cheese vendors, exotic fruit merchants, wild mushroom sellers and much more--plus all the regular stuff you need like string beans, bananas, and chicken.
For those of you tired of the usual turkey on Thanksgiving, here's
a recipe for Armadillo in Cream Sauce that's guaranteed to leave your dinner guests talking: click here (Serve it with a chilled German Riesling).
The Mercado San Juan is located in the centro on Calle Ernesto Pugibet near Calle BuenTono (metro stop Salto de Agua).

Monday, November 10, 2008


Please click here to read my article about sculptor Javier Marín published in 'The News' today.


I'm writing from Yangon, Myanmar, where the shocks and surprises keep coming--it's amazing! Thinking that I might not have a calm moment to blog, I prepared this one in advance:

One of the great things about Mexico is the daily presence in our lives of hand-made objects: baskets, pottery, weaving are found in shops, markets and street stalls all over the country. Recently I had an article published in 'The News' about Mexican artesanias. In the course of my research I learned from informed sources that many artesanos (craftspeople) are suffering greatly from the poor economy. So I'm suggesting that you consider buying Mexican artesanias for holiday gift-giving this year. You will be getting something beautiful and soulful, as well as helping to maintain the tradition of craft production in Mexico.
In my article (click here to read) I suggest several places to shop. I also recommend the Mercado Ciudadela in Mexico City (near metro Balderas) and the Museo de Arte Popular in the Centro (Revillagigedo 11, behind the high-rise Sheraton Alameda)

Friday, October 24, 2008


I came to work recently and found this on the street in front of my studio--a family next door was being evicted. For several days someone sat here protecting the goods, which gradually disappeared.
Mexico City has some of the most stringent laws protecting tenants from eviction--it can take years to evict a non-paying tenant--but evidently the landlord in this case persisted.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


It's been a grey, chilly Sunday in Mexico City, perfect for lolling around the house in pajamas with a good book. As we dropped our friend Vivian off after lunch, she shared with us one of her favorite Mexican dichos (sayings):

"Que bonito es hacer nada...y luego descansar."

(How beautiful it is to do nothing...and then to rest.)

Viva Mexico!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


I found this today on another blog . The writer was attending the Independence Day Grito in Mexico City's zócalo:

"In Mexico City, anyone who is anybody has hired bodyguards and what you see are
businesspeople, legislators and people of both the middle and upper classes surrounded by men in suits, looking around.
There is an overwhelming feeling of fear and insecurity throughout the population in Mexico City."

I was reminded of a frantic phone call I received from my mother years ago when I lived in New York City.
"Are you all right?" she asked, breathlessly.
"Sure, I'm fine, just finished dinner--what's up?"
"They're burning down buildings, shooting people in the streets, rioting everywhere!--I'm watching it on TV right now!"

Indeed, something was going on in Brooklyn, but the impression had been made that New York City was in a state of emergency.

We live in an age where fear sells almost anything--quite easily, it seems. It can distort or expand truth to the point where it is unrecognizable.

There are some grim truths in Mexico these days, and surely some people live in fear. But, while headlines about the killing and kidnapping of14-year old Fernando Martí, the 24 cadavers found in San Isidro Tehualtepec, and the 7 innocent bystanders killed by a grenade in the plaza of Morelia, may have overwhelmed some Mexicans, at least 150,000 of them showed up here recently to demand a response from the government. No doubt, the police and the judicial system are in great need of reform, and maybe some drastic headlines will finally push the government to act. But, as I walked through the park this morning on my way to yoga class, watching people jogging, walking their dogs, feeding ducks in the pond, I was reminded of the bigger picture. The violence occurring in some parts of Mexico does not turn Mexico into a violent nation.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


Facing challenges by conservative factions here, Mexico City’s year-old abortion rights bill was upheld (8 to 3) by the Supreme Court last week. Along with a new domestic partnership bill, another measure making it easier for transsexuals to change their names, and a proposal for a right-to-die law (expected to pass the city’s left-leaning legislature), Mexico City is poised to become, in mayor Marcelo Ebrard’s words, “the most liberal city in Latin America”.

This is a new identity for our city, better known as the place where Aztecs ripped out beating hearts, Spaniards burned heretics at the stake, and government soldiers shot at unarmed students. Shaken to their foundations by the 1985 earthquake, the city’s inhabitants clearly sense the basic instability, the fragility, of our planet...perhaps making them more tolerant of everything that's on it.

Until recently, even the discussion of birth control or abortion had been taboo, so the new law touches a lot of hot spots. For many Mexicans, the often heard phrase“lo que Dios nos mande” (“whatever God sends us”) sums up the attitude here about family planning. The idea of a woman choosing to be, or to remain, pregnant, is new in Mexican society.

ne out of every four Mexicans lives in the greater metropolitan area, so anything that goes on here affects the whole country. As
Mexico celebrates its Fiestas Patrias amid reports of kidnappings and drug wars, the Supreme Court’s decision reaffirms the direction of Marcelo Ebrard and his PRD party, whose daring, liberal ideas are changing the face of Mexico.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Miguel Covarrubias
(Mexico City 1904-1957) was a painter, illustrator, art historian, and ethnologist. As a young man he went to New York City where he became famous for his caricatures and drawings for Vanity Fair and The New Yorker. He was an avid fan of the Harlem jazz scene, and compiled several books of 'negro' drawings. His book on Bali is still in print, and his many illustrated books are now collectors' items (you can find them on ebay).
His series of billboard size maps from a world expo in San Francisco (1940) have been shown in several Mexican museums recently.

The map of Mexico shown here is part of the permanent display in the Museo de Arte Popluar here in el DF. Curiously, I have never seen a reproduction of this image--is there some enterprising publisher out there who wants to promote this as a poster?

Click here to see more images of Covarrubias' work.

Thursday, August 21, 2008



The ‘three cultures’ referred to here are represented by Aztec ruins, a Spanish Colonial church, and a huge apartment complex that was a benchmark of Mexican progress in the 1960’s. For most Mexicans, however, the name Tlatelolco recalls the student uprising on October 2, 1968, which was brutally crushed by the Mexican army, and still hotly discussed today—it's usually referred to as the Tlatelolco massacre.

The ruins are similar to those of the Templo Mayor, but smaller. The recent addition of a new museum, El Centro Cultural Universitario Tlatelolco, is another reason to visit.

Located in a former government building designed in 1966 by Pedro Ramírez Vázquez (architect of the magnificent Museum of Anthropology, among other notable buildings), its exterior is severe, but the interior spaces are grand and inspiring. On the ground floor is a memorial to the events of 1968, a bit didactic (only in Spanish), but full of interesting documentary photos of the period. Upstairs is an art gallery, and also THE BEST VIEWS of the ruins and the church in the plaza. A permanent exhibit, Modern Art in Mexico 1900-1960, features works by masters such as Rivera, Tamayo, Orozco, and Siqueiros (a wierdly kitchy portrait of a girl done in auto enamel), and lesser known (outside of Mexico), but important artists such as Saturnino Herrán, Ángel Zárraga, Raul Anguiano, Olga Costa, and Dr. Atl. The most intersting thing to me was a collection of ‘naive’ paintings from the Escuela de Pintura al Aire Libre (Open Air School of Painting), a government program begun in 1913 which taught painting to children, teens and older working-class people. This does not rank as one of the city’s greatest art collections, but will be of definite interest to anyone seeking to learn more about 20th century Mexican art.

The plaza and museum are located about a mile north of Bellas Artes, at the corner of EJE CENTRAL (also called Lazaro Cardenas--enter ruins here) and RICARDO FLORES MAGON (enter museum here). Metro stops Tlatelolco (no. 3 line) or Garibaldi (no. 8 line) are both a bit of a walk from the site. Taking a pesera north on Reforma to Flores Magon will get you closer. Going back south, you can catch a bus (which runs against the flow of traffic) on Eje Central.

Monday, August 4, 2008


It's harder and harder to find a good conchero dancer these days around the Cathedral, but I found someone from another tribe the other day--meet Max (photo), who was hanging around out front.

Did you know that you can climb up to the roof of the Cathedral? Tours leave every 20 minutes or so--look for the ticket booth with the word CAMPANARIO (bell tower) near the main door--it costs 12 pesos.


One of the defining elements of Mexican culture is its musicality. It's a rare day in Mexico City when you don't hear some form of live music: from the organ grinders of the Centro Histórico, the guitar player/singer in your local market fonda, or the bent over old man playing harmonica on the metro platform, music is an integral part of Mexican life.

I stopped for a cup of coffee in the centro while visiting with family members from St. Louis. We were held in thrall by this young singer/guitarist, José Rodriguez, who just walked in off the street. (You can hire him for your next party--call 044-55-1633-7241).

Mexico City explorer Patrice Wynne sent me this surprising video of a Mexican corrida, a musical form popular during the Revolución, when many corridas were sung to celebrate war heros and to motivate the public--here is an updated version, which wins a special award from me for being (I assume) the world's only song to include the lyrics 'hasta con plan de salud' ('even a health plan!')

Finally, take a look at this video of Mexico's Queen of Ranchera, LOLA BELTRÁN, taken from one of her early movies. She was the acknowledged role model for Linda Ronstadt's excellent 'Canciones de mi Padre' albums. When she died in 1996, her casket was placed in the Palacio de Bellas Artes; thousands of her fans filed by for days. If you don't yet have one of her many albums (available everywhere on CD) go to your nearest music store and buy one today! You don't know Mexico until you know Lola Beltrán.

(A note about youtube: if you find the video stops & starts a lot, click pause and wait until the little arrow reaches the end, then play it.)

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


You can tour Mexico City by helicopter for about $1000US per hour,
but you can get a pretty good idea of what you'll see at this website:

(copy and paste this address if the link does not work)

Friday, June 27, 2008


For those of us who love poking around the city and finding an open door to one of the many hidden worlds found all over town, there is a real gem at the Casa Universitaria del Libro in Colonia Roma. The house, built in the 1920's, was a private mansion of a wealthy couple, later the Embassy of Brasil, the Centro Asturiano, and how is part of the UNAM, whose guardianship of old buildings in Mexico City continues to expand. The lovingly restored interior is one of the finest you will find in Roma--a brief glimpse of the glamorous life of yesteryear.

Classes, expositions, and other book-related events take place here. The address is Orizaba 124, at the corner of Puebla.

For more information, click this link.

Monday, June 2, 2008


Mexicans seem to love 'oldies'--both their own and the American kind.
If you've lived in Mexico for even a short while, it's likely that you have heard
the 1960's hit song 'El Ladron' by La Chamaca de Oro, Sonia Lopez.

If not, click here to remedy the situation.

Thursday, March 27, 2008


I've been seeing this billboard all over town lately and found it quite compelling (not the vodka part). You certainly won't see this one in the U.S. of A.
The MUSEO DE LAS INTERVENCIONES near Coyoacán tells the history of the numerous incursions by Spain, France and the U.S. into Mexico in the years 1825-1916. Americans will be surprised and maybe a bit ashamed. The museum is housed in a magnificent
colonial monastery. For more information and directions click below:


Tuesday, February 26, 2008


I mention it in my book, and I've recommended it to family and friends who have visited DF, but until yesterday I had never ridden on the turibus, that double-decker red thing you see carting hordes of tourists all over town. Who needs that? I thought to myself.
Much to my surprise, I loved it. Seeing DF from a vantage point about 10 feet above ground level offered views of the city I'd never seen before. We went after 4PM when the sun was lower--I would guess a mid-day ride on top could be pretty hot.
For 100 pesos (50 for children) you can get on and off all day at 24 stops all over the Centro, Reforma and Chapultepec areas. There is a new line that covers the southern part of the city, too.

For more information, visit their website

Sunday, February 24, 2008


I remember flying back from a trip to Japan—a country where grey comes in more shades than you can imagine—and looking down on Mexico City in the sunlight as the plane descended. Thank God for hot pink, I thought to myself, catching sight of a concrete building painted rosa mexicana, as the color is known here. Vogue editor Diana Vreeland’s famous remark ‘hot pink is the navy blue of India’ could equally apply to Mexico. We love our colors strong here. A Mexican friend of mine moved to the Big Apple a few years ago to make it in the art world. She returned for a visit last year dressed all in black, ala ‘Manhattan artist’--chic, trendy rags by some Japanese designer that would have turned heads at the Guggenheim. Here, she walked into a store and was asked, “Who died, señora?”

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


WEBSITES ABOUT MEXICO THAT I’VE FOUND USEFUL Inside Mexico is an English language monthly with news, tips, features for anyone living in Mexico. offers daily summaries of the news in
Mexico. Rick and Deb Hall investigate traditional culture, food and crafts—with great photos! C.M. Mayo is a Mexico-based author, editor and translator who writes wisely on literary matters, and more. This culture page from the daily paper El Universal has a useful Guía de Ocio. has practical information about living in Mexico. is the ‘culinary travelogue’ of Christina Potter. is a website about the restaurant scene in Mexico City by my partner Nick publishes monthly info on the art scene inDF. has movie listings at all Cinemex theaters in the city. is a journalist who observes the city with a keen eye food specialist Ruth Alegria offers culinary tours and information is an organization promoting local food products and events has information about Mexican artesanias