Showing posts with label Mexico. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mexico. Show all posts

Jun 6, 2014

What's in a Name, JalapeƱos

While known in its native Mexico as huachinango or chile gordo, to the rest of the world JalapeƱos get their name from the town of Xalapa or Jalapa.

Sep 13, 2013

Mexican Independence

Most Americans think of Cinco de Mayo as a celebration of Mexican independence, along the same lines as the 4th of July, with many participating in the festivities merely for an excuse to drink margaritas. However, Cinco de Mayo actually commemorates a victory in battle against French occupying forces. In the spring of 1861, A powerful French battalion swept across the countryside until they were stopped in The Battle of Puebla at the forts of Loreto and Guadalupe by a much smaller Mexican group on May 5th. Unfortunately, the following year, the French returned with thirty thousand troops, took over Mexico, and installed Maximilian I as Emperor.

While it is an important celebration in Puebla, in other areas of Mexico it is somewhat less popular. Mexican Independence Day, a completely separate holiday, is celebrated on September 16th.

Tequila is the national drink of Mexico, a potent spirit made from the blue agave. Like champagne, which can only legally be produced in the Champagne region of France, tequila must be derived from agave grown only in very specific parts of Mexico. As the drink’s popularity has continued to rise throughout the world, Mexico has tried to maintain its control, claiming tequila is a “geographically indicated product” under intellectual property rights law. It seems other countries may soon be producing tequila, particularly China, which has areas that mimic Mexico’s very specific climate and soil.

A common misconception about tequila is that the bottle should feature a worm. This actually holds true only for mezcal, a similar drink made from agave. The worm is actually the larva of a moth called the Hypopta agavis that routinely infests agave. While there are some who make the claim that the worm somehow improves the flavor, it is more likely just a marketing ploy.

Sep 6, 2013

Brussels Sprouts

If you hate the taste of Brussels sprouts it might be due to your DNA. Brussels sprouts are among the group of cabbages grown for edible buds. The leafy green vegetables are typically small, and look like miniature cabbages. The Brussels sprout has long been popular in Brussels, Belgium, and may have originated there.

In Europe, the largest producers are the Netherlands and Germany. Mexico tends to cultivate them in the Baja region from December through June.

Brussels sprouts have potent anticancer properties. Although boiling reduces the level of the anticancer compounds, steaming and stir frying do not result in significant loss.

Many people seem to not like Brussels sprouts. Scientists explain that there is a mutated gene possessed by about half of the population that prevents a person from tasting the bitter-tasting chemical used to grow Brussels sprouts. If a person does not possess this gene they can taste the chemical, thus making them much more likely to dislike Brussels sprouts. Apparently, I do not have that gene.

Mar 16, 2013

Texas Trivia

The Republic of Texas was an independent sovereign nation in North America, which existed after gaining independence from Mexico March 2, 1836 and lasted until February 19, 1846. It was bordered by the nation of Mexico to the southwest, the Gulf of Mexico to the southeast, the two US states of Louisiana and Arkansas to the east and northeast, and the United States territories encompassing the current US states of Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, and New Mexico to the north and west.

In 1839, Texas became the first nation in the world to enact a homestead exemption under which a person's primary residence could not be seized by creditors.

On March 1, 1845, US President John Tyler signed a bill that would authorize the United States to annex the Republic of Texas on December 29, 1845. On October 13, 1845, a large majority of voters in the Republic approved both the American offer and the proposed constitution. As part of the Compromise of 1850 Texas dropped claims to territory which included parts of present-day Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Wyoming. On February 19, 1846, power was permanently transferred from the Republic of Texas to the State of Texas.

John Tyler, born in 1790, has two living grandsons: Lyon Gardiner Tyler Jr., born in 1924, and Harrison Ruffin Tyler, born in 1928. He also fathered 15 children, more than any president in history. Thanks to Mike McCormick for the trivia addition.

The compromise also stated that up to four additional states could be created from Texas' territory with the consent of the State of Texas. In addition, Texas did not have to surrender its public lands to the federal government. It did not cede any public lands within its current boundaries. The land in Texas owned by the federal government was subsequently purchased by it. This means Texas has control over oil reserves and control over offshore oil reserves that run out to 9 nautical miles.

Mar 1, 2013

Oil Imports

The five countries that supply the most oil to the US (during 2011), in order, are Canada 133.8 million tonnes (sic), South America 111.2, Saudi Arabia 95.5, Nigeria Africa 68.3, and Mexico 59.8. Taken from a series of 36 maps that explain the world. LINK

Feb 5, 2013

High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) and Obesity

HFCS entered the American food supply in the 1970s and the rates of obesity began to rise about the same time. Consequently, many blame HFCS.

However, the calories in HFCS are no different from those in refined white sugar. The makeup of HFCS (55 percent fructose and 45 percent glucose) is close to that of white sugar (50 percent fructose and 50 percent glucose) and our bodies digest HFCS and sugar in very similar ways. Nutritionally speaking, the two are virtually identical.

Interesting Fact: Coca Cola produced in Mexico is still made with sugar (as opposed to corn syrup in the US), and many people claim to be able to taste the difference, but after numerous tests, results vary widely in their conclusions.

Nov 28, 2012


The clear white liquor with the unique taste that people either love or hate, tequila is thought to have been first produced around the second half of the 16th century in Mexico. It is made from the blue agave plant that grows so abundantly around the city of Tequila in the state of Jalisco. Tequila is said to have been a result of the Spaniards running out of their own brandy. Upon hearing the Aztecs had once used the blue agave plant to produce an alcoholic drink (known as octli or pulque), the conquistadors set about distilling the plant to produce a drink they could use to replace their beloved brandy.

Mexican law dictates that tequila can only be produced in this and a few other very select areas if it is to carry the name of tequila. Over 300 million agave plants are harvested each year for the production of tequila.

It is distilled after fermentation and the end product is usually 38% to 40% alcohol. That brings it in at 76% to 80% proof.

Sep 21, 2012

Vanilla Truth

Vanilla comes from a special species of orchid. Consuming natural vanilla causes the body to release catecholamines, including adrenalin and for this reason it is considered to be mildly addictive.

When vanilla plants were first exported from Mexico to other tropical climes, they flowered, but wouldn’t produce vanilla pods. It was discovered that a bee native to Mexico was the only creature that could pollinate vanilla flowers.

Attempts to move the bee to other countries failed and it was not until a slave boy discovered a method of artificial pollination that Mexico lost its monopoly on vanilla. As well as being mildly addictive, vanilla has also been found to block bacterial infections. Ice cream with real flecks of vanilla beans (and maybe some bacon bits) is probably doubly addictive.