Over at Skiffy and Fanty: The Smell of Masa in the Morning (plus a recipe)

There is a particular smell to corn that has been soaked in wood ash lye, then washed and hulled and ground into a fine meal.

It is the aroma of freshly made tortillas, of tamales as they steam, of my mother’s huipiles.

Really. No matter how freshly laundered, no matter how many cedar balls or lavender sachets have been thrown in the drawer to keep the moths away, the distinctive hand-woven Guatemalan blouses my mother wore retain the smell of a grain turned more aromatic, more flavorful, more nutritious by the nixtamalation process.

Smell nixtamalizes memory.

Or maybe it is the other way around.

Read the rest of this essay at Skiffy and Fanty.

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New at PRI: What does protest sound like? For this Philadelphia activist, it’s the eight-string jarana.

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Yared Portillo, center, playing with other members of Son Revoltura at the former Taquitos de Puebla on Calle 9, South Philly’s Mexican immigrant business corridor. Photo: Son Revoltura’s facebook page.

Yared Portillo, a Philadelphia community activist, has four of them: One she built from scratch; two others were secured from renowned artisans; the final one — received broken and in pieces from a friend — she carefully repaired and made whole again.

The repaired instrument isn’t a bad metaphor for the role the jarana has played in the US immigration protest movement for the past two decades. It’s a small, eight-string instrument from Veracruz, Mexico, patterned after a 16th century baroque Spanish guitar that is often confused with a ukulele.

In the hands of Chicanos or recent Mexican immigrants, the jarana — as well as the son jarocho musical form with which it is inextricably associated — energizes rallies and undergirds the chants of those who want to repair not only a broken immigration system, but the increasingly broken relationship between two nations sharing both borders and histories.

Read the rest of the article at PRI’s The World: What does protest sound like?

Upcoming: Philly’s Nerdtino Expo 17

Saturday, Nov. 18 at Taller Puertorriqueño:

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And, a thank you to the Law Department of the City of Philadelphia for inviting me to speak and read from my work at City Hall on Oct. 25:

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Caroline Cruz, one of the attorney’s at the Law Department of the City of Philadelphia, with Sabrina Vourvoulias at Conversation Hall of City Hall in Philadelphia, Oct. 25, 2017.

I have a long form piece about deportation up at Medium …

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It looks at the deportation stories of two men: Mout Iv, who was deported to Cambodia, and César, who was deported to Mexico, after a lifetime in the United States. It also looks at the changing definition of criminal deportations over the years…

Read more here.