Comida Colombiana – Colombian Food

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Desde el primer día que llegue a los Estados Unidos me ha fascinado la Pizza, las hamburguesas y la comida chatarra que este país ofrece. Me ha causado el ganar peso aunque mi tendencia ha sido siempre de ser de peso saludable. Nunca he dejado de extrañar la comida Colombiana.

Lo mas duro fue la carne. La diferencia entre la carne fresca y la carne que se consume acá es de noche y día. Al principio parece que estuviera uno comiendo chancletas de lo dura que es la carne. Después poco a poco uno comienza a extrañar todos los platos típicos de Colombia y del Valle. De vez en cuando uno puede ir a donde un familiar o al restaurante Colombiano y comer empanadas y chorizo, pero la mayoría de los días es difícil de disfrutar la variedad de comidas que comía uno a diario.

El primer obstáculo es encontrar verduras de calidad. Encontrar un plátano que no esta pasmado por esto lados es casi como encontrar oro. Y bueno, papa amarilla es una cosa que se vuelve mentalmente como el pajaro Do-Do, dicen que existe pero parece mito. El segundo obstáculo es la falta de tiempo, la vida acá es tan acelerada que los platos que en Colombia la Mama le preparaba a uno acá nadie tiene el tiempo de hacer.

Se puede encontrar facilmente masa para arepas que hemos usado con satisfacción y yo preparo arroz con pollo cada que puedo, pero en realidad extraño mucho mi comida Colombiana y bueno no saben que difícil es vivir sin la panadería de la esquina.

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Politics is a complicated subject. Even understanding the structure of government and the various ideas of capitalism and democracy is not enough to get a good picture. Then there are the political parties to which people seem to want to pick sides and cheer as if they were a sport team. Politicians are in a sense sport stars that like the best of the NFL or NBA players get in trouble and cause controversy. So how do we make a decision in a process that it is a best cloudy and at its worst smoke and mirrors?

I wish I had a clear answer. In life they say the more you learn the more you realize that you know nothing. It is the same in politics. I try to read and listen to as much information about not just the U.S. but the world as I can and the more I hear the more confused I become about where I stand politically. It is not to say that I have no convictions, but am I really standing behind my convictions when I vote for someone? Do I really understand what that person will do for me as my political voice?

The congress and senate are perfect examples. It seems like when there is a vote the reasons and ideals that made me vote for a candidate are only a percentage of what eventually influence that vote. The people representatives ask for favor votes for one another and in the end they have to at times sacrifice their principals for either a vote the owe or to buy a future favor. It sounds fishy because it is. We vote because we think that person is going to represent us.

Democracy come from the Greek δημοκρατία (demokratia), δημος (demos) the common people + κρατειν (kratein) to rule + the suffix ία (ia), literally “the common people rule”. Are we the people really ruling?

The recent Palestinian election is to me a perfect example. We as “America” are trying to spread democracy. In a way the satirical movie Team America seems more accurate than what the overall idea of spreading democracy Bush administration style is. We say that we want to spread that, then Hamas goes ahead and wins the election. The whole world is surprised by a “Terrorist” group winning an election and now everyone is scrambling to make them give up their ideals. Don’t get me wrong, I am not a supporter of Hamas, but if you are going to promote the ideal of Democracy and the rule of the people then you have to know that when you let the Palestinians vote they might be more in line with erasing Israel from the face of the earth than agreeing with a peace talk that gives them a fractured state and no real roadmap to becoming a sobering nation.

That conflict is very complicated, ongoing and historically painful. Will a new election solve it? Will Democracy really help them? Is Capitalism the answer to every problem?

In the end I am left with the same idea that I had to begin with which is my base for world politics. End world hunger and you will see a decline in conflicts.
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Friday Meme

I’ve always liked Friday Meme’s sometimes planning a weekend ends up on having to chance plans. I found this one over at Michelle’s.

What is your reaction to waking up and seeing snow?
Crap, lets use the remote starter on the car… and hope is not too deep.

What’s your favorite dessert to order out? to make at home?
I am not a huge dessert person, but whenever possible I get Tiramisu.

Do you file your taxes early or late?
As early as possible. Already done them for the year.

Do you usually get a big refund? If so, what do you do with it?
I had to pay last year, this year was a little bit butter and it is going to the wedding fund, paying bills and possibly a car tuneup.

How do you handle your bills? Are you really organized, really laid back or somewhat in between. Describe.
Bills are a huge stress for me, they drive me nuts.

How important is money in terms of your happiness?
I don’t think it should be important at all, but it does help make things happen.

What did your parents teach you about money?
This question is hard, I don’t think my parents ever thought me that much about money… I guess being responsible for buying my clothes and paying for my own car and college was their way of teaching me that responsibility.

What do you wish your parents had taught you about money?
That credit is evil.

What are your plans for the weekend?

Well, they are kind of in limbo right now, but I have a couple of weekend projects that need to be done as well as clean up in preparation for my b-day.

DDR and Losing weight

Yesterday I read an article about a school in West Virginia using DDR to help obesity amongst students. It is still to early for me to know if DDR has made an impact on my weight or not since I have only been doing it for about a month but I sure hope so. I have been doing it almost every weekday; I say I do it about 4 days a week consistently.

DDR for those of you not in the know stand for (Dance Dance Revolution). It is a game made by Konami that is played on mats that have directional arrows for top, bottom, left and right. You can find various versions of the game for the home console and at the arcades. I have to admit that it is a little easier to do it at home than publicly humiliate yourself while trying to learn how to do it. There is a learning curve that while not too steep it is there.
I have started to move up to the light mode (there are 5 modes, beginner, light, standard, heavy and challenge.) on some songs, but the higher modes still seem almost humanly impossible to me.

Reading the article and having a conversation with a coworker we tried to think if kids now a days play as much as we did outside. Right now the excuse is winter time in our area and the temperatures are kind of hard to predict. I did not grow up around cold weather like this, but he said he used to spend tons of time outside even during the winter. I used to spend as much time as I was allowed outside playing soccer and just hanging out with friends. Video game playing was there, but not as much as it is now. It seems like videogames are not just another toy but the main toy for a lot of kids.

DDR is not the solution to the problem, but it is a step in the right direction. I think that physical activity is necessary for our kids, and while going outside and playing should be the goal having the chance to exercise at home is not bad. I will keep doing DDR and let you know how good it works; so far it has been very motivating.

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Latin Pride

You all know how proud I am to have been born in Colombia. One label that I was not aware of until I moved to the US is that I was also Latin. While I was aware of the word and that Spanish was one of the Romance Languages, languages that were derived from Latin, what I did not know was that I was going to have to wear this label as long as I lived in the U.S.

While for a lot of people it really can be a painful thing to be segregated by the color of their skin, I try to concentrate in the positive side of being Latin and look at all the things positive things that my culture brings into my life. I grew up in Colombia not knowing that Latin countries influence each other quite a bit. Musically for example, “Cumbia” a rhythm very popular in Mexico today actually originates from Colombia. “Rancheras,” a very popular music for some Colombians comes from Mexico. Mariachis are in some sense the international ambassadors from that country to the world. You can actually find Mariachis playing “Rancheras” in Colombia. If I remember correctly there is a bar called Mexicali where you can go listen to “Rancheras” live. A lot of times when someone thinks of Mexico the first image that comes to his or her mind is a big Mariachi sombrero.

I am not one for stereotyping, and in a way saying that Mariachis are the ambassadors of Mexico could be misconstrued as a negative representation of all that Mexico is. I know that there is a lot more to Mexico than just Mariachis. When I make the statement about Mariachis, I mean to make it in the most positive way, and I am proud that as a Latino I can consider them part of my culture. I am also very happy to have had the opportunity to sample a lot of homemade Mexican food. A misconception of a lot of people is that all Latin food is hot spicy. Actually Mexican food is one of the only types of foods where hot spices are a main staple in the cuisine. For example in Colombian food, there is only one sauce that accompanies Colombian “Empanadas” called “Aji” that is actually supposed to be hot spicy. The rest of Colombian dishes are not hot at all.

One of my favorite Mexican foods is “Mole”. A chocolate based sauce with a kick. There are many variations of “Mole” sauce and I like “Mole Rojo” over chicken the best. I have had “Mole” in the brain for like the last week. This Sunday I went to our favorite Mexican restaurant, “Los Cuatro Amigos” and I was very excited when I was the “Mole” on the so I ordered it, keeping in mind that it might not be as good as some of the homemade “Mole” I’ve had in the past but I was wrong. The “Mole” was excellent. One of the other good qualities at this restaurant is that they use very good cuts of the meat, so the whole dish was excellent pieces of chicken. If you ever venture into a Mexican restaurant that has “Mole” I dare you to try it.

I finished watching the Kill Bill saga by watching part 2. The special features which had a concert by Chingon a band created by Director Robert Rodriguez (Sin City, Desperado and Once Upon in Mexico.) Rodriguez actually scored Kill Bill 2 for free. Chingon (Which means badass) played “Malaguena Salerosa” a Mariachi styled song that wounded excellent and made my heart beat a little faster. It has to be the Latin blood that runs through my veins.

Saturday I got another huge surprise that I was not expecting at all. I attended my Company’s holiday party. I know a little late, but believe me it is a lot better than trying to fit it in during the holidays. The festivities were hosted at the Saginaw Club. An excellent location but it had one flaw, tons of stairs. Anyway, they had four different styles of food being served buffet style, but there were actual cooks keeping all of the dishes fresh. They had Japanese, Caribbean, Italian and Mexican. Along with the great food and free drinks, for entertainment they also had a Mariachi band. While it was not a huge one, I counted 6 members. I requested El Rey, which to me is probably the classic “Ranchera”. They performed it flawlessly and I felt very connected to my Latin roots during that moment. What can I say; I had a very Mexican weekend and enjoyed every second of it.