Flowers and Gunpowder
By Tim Hazell
Tdhe aftermath of the conquest of Mexico by Hernán Cortéz in 1521 was enslavement of the country’s indigenous populations. Gachupinos, or “wearers of spurs,” controlled vast land-holdings formerly inhabited by them. This slave labor bore the brunt of sweat and toil that was to build a new nation.
Born in 1753 in Penjamo, Guanajuato, and ordained a priest in 1778, Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla was dedicated to his Dolores parish, teaching the Indians to become self-sufficient through the cultivation of vineyards and the manufacture of bricks. As his interest in the politics of revolution grew, he also taught them how to make weapons. Hidalgo joined the underground, working to overthrow Spanish rule and end oppression in Mexico.
Written in 1937 during the Spanish Civil War, Pablo Neruda’s poem, “I’m Explaining a Few Things,” expresses outrage against fascism and social injustice.
One morning the bonfires
leapt out of the earth
devouring human beings–
and from then on fire,
gunpowder from then on,
and from then on blood.
from every house burning metal flows
instead of flowers …
Mexico’s national flag was adopted in 1821 by the Ejército Trigarante (Army of the Three Guarantees)—also known as the Plan of Iguala—in the final stage of the Mexican War of Independence from Spain. The Plan of Iguala’s three guarantees stood for religion (white), independence (green), and unity (red). The center of the flag contains the Mexican coat of arms, an eagle atop a cactus devouring a serpent, symbol of the founding of Tenochtitlán.
Mexico’s cuisine reflects its native empires, legacy of colonial rule, and ongoing fight for equality. Rice or pasta dishes are robust traditional “dry soup” courses eaten during a typical Mexican comida.
1 1/ 2 cups long grain white rice
1/3 cup canola oil
1/2 cup cold water
1 small bunch Italian parsley
3 sprigs fresh coriander
3 large romaine lettuce leaves
1 green chile, seeded and chopped
1/4 small onion
1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped
3 cups chicken broth
Cover and soak rice in hot water for twenty minutes. Drain, rinse well, and drain again for 15 minutes. Heat oil in a heavy pan. Stir rice into the oil and fry over high flame, turning constantly until rice is a pale golden color. Tip the pan, hold rice back with spatula and drain off about 3 tablespoons of oil. Add greens, chile, onion, and garlic to blender along with a half cup of water. Blend until smooth. Add blended ingredients to rice and fry over high flame, stirring constantly until rice is almost dry. Add broth. Salt to taste. Cook over medium low heat until all liquid has been absorbed and holes appear on rice surface, about fifteen minutes. Cover pan and cook five minutes longer. Turn off flame and let rice continue to cook in its own steam for 20 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve.