La Rosca de Reyes (King Cake)
You might have noticed everyone walking around with Roscas de Reyes this past Sunday. We certainly did. They were getting ready to celebrate Día de los Tres Reyes (Day of the Three Kings) – also known as 12 th Night (January 6 th ). This is the day when most Mexican children get presents from the three wise men who made the journey to see the Baby Jesus (instead of Santa Claus). In some areas of eastern Yucatan , this is not the custom, since their children do receive their gifts on Dec. 24. However, La Rosca de Reyes is a universal custom throughout Mexico . King Cakes may not be eaten before January 6 th nor after Carnival Day. King Cakes are not, as many believe, a big cinnamon bun made in a ring. King Cakes have their own recipe and there is no other “cake” that tastes like it. For decoration, Mexican cooks use dried and candied fruits. In Louisiana , the decorations are purple (justice), green (faith), and gold (power) sugar icings. Either in or under the King Cake, there will be a small figure of a Baby Jesus. In Mexico , including in Yucatan , whoever finds the baby must take it to the nearest church on February 2 nd ( Día de la Candelaria ) and must host a Día de la Candelaria party. King Cake parties are held even in elementary schools and in workplaces. In Louisiana , King Cake baking is an art and contests to see which bakery makes the best King Cake are taken quite seriously. If you would like to make your own King Cake, here’s a recipe from Emeril Lagasse and one from NOLA (New Orleans , LA) Cuisine. Enjoy!
Cold Weather and Respiratory Problems
Who would ever have believed that it would be in the low 50′s in Yucatan ? For the past week, temperatures have been the second lowest seen in the past decade. Looks like we may need the folks back home to send us a care package loaded with extra warm sweats. These continuing cold spells come on the heels of at least 13 cold snaps during the Fall of last year. Working Gringa took her winter clothes to D.F., never dreaming she would need them when she got home to the land of year-round summer! Unfortunately, the cold weather is bringing an increase in colds and other respiratory problems with it, so take care – eat well, get plenty of rest, and load up on fruits and vegetables containing Vitamin C.
Church Restorations: Ucu
For the past seven years, INAH has been restoring churches throughout the State of Yucatan . This time, it is the Church of the Virgen de la Natividad in Ucu. The altar is known to have been built in 1690, but no one knows exactly how old the church itself actually is. Many of these restorations have unearthed churches that were little known by residents of larger towns and certainly unknown by tourists. Today, one by one, we are able to see some of the most wonderful churches ever built. Before restoration, the church in Ucu has one of the most spectacular entrances we’ve seen in the area. We can’t wait to see what it looks like after its overhaul.
Holiday Reduction in Tolls to Remain in Effect
The Federal Government operates 11 highways throughout the nation. During the holidays, there is a 10% reduction in tolls. Due to increased gas taxes and higher food prices, these holiday rates throughout 2008. If you are driving in Mexico and want to know how much your tolls will be, you can find that information here.
According to Cruz Lopez Aguilar, head of the National Confederation of Farm Workers, Mexico loses approximately 200,000 farm jobs per year. Now, Mexico is expected to have a surplus of sugar, corn, and beans this year. However, the NAFTA tariffs on U.S. sugar, corn, and beans ended January 1 and the U.S. can purchase what they need from Canada , before buying from Mexico , then flood the market in Mexico . For those who do not know about this dynamic, U.S. farmers can sell cheaper in Mexico because they are supported by subsidies, while Mexican farmers are not. If this happens in the corn, sugar, and beans markets, there are expected to be 350,000 farm jobs lost in Mexico this year alone. Unless Mexico is able to renegotiate NAFTA, this tragedy could result in more illegal immigration and add to an already tense situation. Our own Yucateco corn and bean farmers are already expressing grave concern over this issue.
Ethnic Gets Specific
Throughout the United States and Canada , restaurants are moving away from signs identifying them as “Mexican,” opting instead for identification by micro-region. This means one can choose between a Yucatecan restaurant and a Pueblan, Oaxacan or Veracruzan restaurant and be fairly certain of the menu they will find there. Supermarkets have also gotten on the ethnic specific bandwagon and have begun to subdivide their “Mexican” section by region. This is wonderful news for those who love to bring a taste of Yucatan back to the States or to Canada with them.
Chris Dodd – Dream Destination: Yucatan
Senator Chris Dodd has withdrawn from the 2008 Presidential Race, but we were reading the dream destinations of the candidates on World Hum and discovered that Senator Dodd spent his Peace Corps days in the Dominican Republic, speaks fluent Spanish, and that his dream destination is the Yucatan Peninsula.
• UADY’s School of Economics has 90 students working toward a degree in International Trade. Graduates of this program will be in a position to develop careers as advisors to business and industry throughout the nation and abroad. As part of that mission, Standard English – the language of the international marketplace – figures prominently in their newly acquired skills.
• Post-graduate students, in the School of Engineering , now have options to obtain a Masters in Engineering in a variety of fields. The Masters in Environmental Engineering offers students the option to work with water quality, air quality (both preservation and restoration), and waste disposal. Graduate degrees in Construction cover topics from sustainable methods to evaluating historical structural performance. Hydrology is another of the most important of the graduate degrees and an absolute necessity if Yucatan is to maintain its environmental lead in the nation.