Ordinary Becomes Extraordinary

Cultural Perspectives
By Tim Hazell

Magic realism in Latin America proliferated quickly because of the relevance of deeply-rooted pre-Conquest beliefs. The term “magical realism” was first applied to literature of the Americas by Venezuelan literary critic Uslar Pietri. Its leading exponents in prose and poetry included Carlos Fuentes, Julio Cortazar, Alejo Carpentier, Miguel Angel Asturias, Juan Rulfo, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. The genre combined realism and surrealism, creating visions that were rich and complex, infused with references from daily life.

Jorge Luis Borges is quoted as saying, “I imagine a labyrinth of labyrinths, one sinuous spreading labyrinth that would encompass the past and future and in some way involve the stars.” Latin American writers used magic realism as a technique for representing a more congruent national identity. The genre represented an effective way of showcasing “dreams that appear in the streets.”

Miguel Ángel Asturias’s Hombres de Maiz (Men of Maize), Juan Rulfo’s Pedro Paramo, and Gabriel García Marquez’s Cien años de soledad (One Hundred Years of Solitude) demanded indigenous legends and tenets. Julio Cortazar says about himself, “I have never admitted a clear distinction between living and writing. I write by dislocation, and since I write out of an interstice, I always invite others to discover one of their own, to see for themselves the garden where trees bear fruits that turn out to be precious stones.”

Here is an excerpt from the poetry of Julio Cortazar:

Speak. You Have Three Minutes

I think of you relentlessly, like a blind machine;

like the perpetual pounding of fever’s gong,

or the lunatic clutching a pigeon—stroking it hour after hour

until his fingers and its feathers fuse into a single crumb of tenderness.

Savor a touch of magic realism from the Colombian river town of Mompós, made famous by Gabriel García Márquez!

Colombian Fried Chicken

Ingredients:

8 drumsticks and/or thighs

Salt and pepper

1 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. paprika

1/2 cup mustard

Oil for frying

Batter:

2 cups milk

3 beaten eggs

5 tbsp. flour

1 tsp. paprika

1 tsp. ground cumin

Salt and pepper

1-1/2 cups bread crumbs

2 limes

Honey to taste

Directions:

Pat chicken pieces dry. Combine salt, pepper, cumin, mustard, and paprika in a small bowl. Rub mixture into the chicken. Place in a large container, cover, and refrigerate overnight. For the batter, whisk flour, milk, salt, paprika, cumin, black pepper, and eggs in a bowl. Place bread crumbs on a plate. Line a baking sheet with paper towels. Preheat oven to 200F. In a deep sauté pan, heat 2” oil over medium-high heat until a piece of bread sizzles. Dip chicken into the batter. Dredge chicken in the bread crumbs, shaking off excess. Fry half the chicken pieces, turning often for about 20 minutes or until cooked through. Transfer to the baking sheet and keep warm in the oven. Repeat with remaining chicken. Arrange on a serving plate. Drizzle with lime juice and honey. Serve with favorite side dishes.

 

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