Roots and Dreams
By Tim Hazell
Aztlán is the ancestral home of the Aztec peoples and is mentioned in several colonial ethno-historical sources, each citing different lists of Nahua peoples who participated in the migration from Aztlán to central México. The myth-dream became a potent image for the Chicano Movement in its infancy, as the place of origin of the pre-Columbian Mexican civilization and a symbol for various nationalist and indigenous movements.
In America, Beat poetry during the 1950s paved the way for collaborative experiments such as Raíces y Sueños (Roots and Dreams), which engaged the talents of master percussionist Rubén Álavarez and poet David Hernández, a founding member of Chicago’s Latino Arts Movement.
Themes evolved out of daily encounters with race prejudice and the elusive American dream. Leading poets such as Oscar Zeta Acosta, Lorena de Cervantes, Pat Mora, and Alberto Rios gained national attention and prominence. Here is an excerpt from “Nani” by Alberto Rios:
“I watch the mama warming tortillas for me. Near her mouth, I see a wrinkle speak of a man… then words from more wrinkles about children, about this and that… Each serves as a tremendous string around her. She asks me if I want more… Even before I speak, she serves.”
America’s “melting-pot” cuisine reflects the ethnic diversity of its Latino, Native, and Creole populations. This recipe retains the earthy characteristics of its origins!
Black Bean Stew with Chorizo and Braised Chicken
8 chicken thighs, skins removed
Freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of salt
1 tbsp oil
2 links chorizo – one chicken and one pork, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
8 scallions, finely sliced, greens and whites reserved separately
4 large cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp ground cumin seed
2 whole canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, finely chopped, plus 1 tbsp sauce from can
1 can chicken or beef broth
1 28 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
Chopped coriander leaves
Season chicken thighs on all sides with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large saucepan. Add thighs and saute until browned. Remove and set aside. Add chorizo and fry, stirring occasionally, until crisp and starting to char, about 4 minutes. Carefully drain off excess fat. Add scallion whites and garlic. Cook, stirring and scraping up browned bits from bottom of pan until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add cumin, chopped chipotles, and adobo sauce, stirring for another minute. Return chicken to casserole. Add 1 cup water or broth. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and cook, uncovered stirring occasionally, until thighs are tender, but still firm. Remove chicken pieces, add black beans, and nestle chicken back into ingredients. Return to a boil, reduce heat and continue to gently simmer for a further 10 minutes. Mash some of the beans against the side of the pot, repeating this process until stew is the desired thickness. Garnish with yogurt, chopped coriander, and scallion greens. Serve with rice and lime wedges.