Thursday, August 19, 2010

La Loteria: Hand, World and Heart (and the Devil)

I received this card on the mail the other day. The Devil! No, it was not some weird form of hate mail asking me to repent and mend the error of my ways. I was an invitation to participate in the Center for Book and Paper Arts' exhibit -Mano/Mundo/Corazon: Artists Interpret La Loteria

La Loteria is a game similar to Bingo. The most popular version of this game was probably drawn in the 1920's, but the game has been around since the 1800's. Each card features iconic and archetypal images. Some of the cards have symbolic meaning dating back to Pre-Hispanic times, while other cards could also correspond to the Tarot's major arcana:

El Sol /The Sun/Tonathiu.

La Luna/The Moon/Coyolxahuqui.

La Estrella/The Star/Citlali.

La Muerte/Death/Miclantecuthli,

I was actually thrilled to have received El Diablito. The image was up my alley - devils seem to make their way into my art often. The obvious symbolic meanings for the devil are evil, fear and basically everything that is bad. But my personal mythology interprets Diablitos (little Devils) as naughty, playful, mischievous characters related to the basic element of fire. They represent passion, a spark of creativity and our desire to "let loose", to do things often frown upon. If we are extremely fearful, overly prudish, judgemental, and repress our genuine feelings unfairly, something minor could come back in more sinister ways. This is my version of the card:

Mano/Mundo/Corazon: Artist Interpret La Loteria opens on September 9, and it runs to December 10 in Chicago's Center for Book and Paper Arts The opening reception is on September 9, from 5:30 to 8:30 pm. To learn more about the Center for Books and Paper Arts visit Columbia College in Chicago

Monday, August 16, 2010

Red Hot Chile Salt

Hello Blogeritos! I've been busy but I have lots to share! Stay tuned. I hope everyone is having a great Summer. One of the things I love about the Summer is the produce. Corn, tomatoes, Summer squash and so many other fresh veggies are in season. I saw some juicy red chiles at the farmer's market the other day, so I decided to make this delicious red hot chile salt!

Street vendors in Oaxaca and Chiapas make chile salt similar to this one to season peanuts, pepitas (roasted pumpkin seeds) and fresh fruits and veggies. It is super simple! You'll need the following ingredients and utensils:

  • A cup of salt
  • 5- 6 fresh red peppers, like Thai, Mirasol or Tabasco
  • Mortar and pestle
  • Salt shaker
  • Coffee grinder (optional)

Grind the chiles and the salt together in the mortar. I'm using a small marble mortar and pestle, but traditionally this is done in a volcanic stone molcajete. Choose only the freshest, juiciest chiles, or you'll have a hard time flavoring the salt and breaking the chiles apart. Work the skin and seeds into the salt, so everything starts to break down.

Transfer the chile salt to a plate and spread it evenly. Let it dry on a sunny window for a couple of days before you store it in a salt shaker. Look at the picture below. The salt on the right was ground twice, the salt on the left is a bit more chunky. If you want a finer salt, grind the skins and the seeds in the mortar once again, or process it in a coffee grinder. I have two coffee grinders, one for coffee and one just for spices (let the salt rest for a minute before opening the coffee grinder! The salt may become airborne!)

Enjoy this red hot salt over roasted corn, pico de gallo, crispy jicama or any dish that needs a little spicing. Have a fiery hot summer!