Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Chinese-Mexican Cuisine You’ll Find Only Along the Border

California Foodways: The Chinese-Mexican Cuisine You’ll Find Only Along the Border

If you ask people in the city of Mexicali, Mexico, about their most notable regional cuisine, they won’t say street tacos or mole. They’ll say Chinese food. There are as many as 200 Chinese restaurants in the city. North of the border, in Imperial County, the population is mostly Latino, but Chinese restaurants are packed. There are dishes in this region you won’t find anywhere else, and a history behind them that goes back more than 130 years.

The Salcedo family sits in a coveted booth at the Fortune Garden restaurant in the city of El Centro. The mother and three adult sisters are almost drooling, waiting for their food to show up. They come from Yuma, Arizona — over an hour away — twice a month just to eat here.

A huge side order arrives, light-yellow deep-fried chilies, a dish I’ve never seen. Then a salt-and-pepper fish, which the Salcedos describe as “Baja-style,” with lots of bell peppers, chilies and onions. But have you ever heard of “Baja-style” dishes in a Chinese restaurant?

Mayra Salcedo explains, “It’s like a fusion, Mexican ingredients with the Chinese. It’s very different than if you go to any other Chinese restaurant, Americanized Chinese restaurant.”

Her sister, Marta, carefully mixes Chinese mustard, a little spicy Sriracha and ketchup into a special only-in-Imperial-Valley dipping sauce for barbecue pork.

“When they order, they don’t say barbecue pork,” says Fortune Garden co-owner Jenissa Zhou. “They say carnitas, carnitas colorada.” That’s “red pork” in Spanish.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Chinese influence growing in Mexico

It was an unexpected sight in a desert city on the northern border of Mexico. One recent Sunday, children were pouring out of a school classroom into a hall hung with fringed lanterns and calling out to one another in Mandarin and Cantonese. Others were preparing decorations in another room for this month’s Chinese New Year celebrations.

Outside, restaurants lining the dusty streets displayed signs in Spanish, English and Chinese.

This is Mexicali, home to the largest Chinese community in Mexico and one of the largest in Latin America. It is the face of a new era in Mexico’s relationship with the emerging superpower across the Pacific Ocean.

“People say that Mexicali was founded by Chinese about a hundred years ago,” said Anna Yu, 39, a language teacher at the school.

Yu came to Mexicali from China about 10 years ago to join family who had settled there. “I heard Mexicali was famous for a community like this,” she said.

Since then, she has married a Mexican, learned Spanish and taught her husband Mandarin.

Yu is one of an estimated 20,000 people of Chinese descent living in Mexicali. The school where she teaches is housed in the Asociación China de Mexicali and exists to teach language, writing and history to younger generations in an effort to keep Chinese culture alive.

Chinese immigration to Mexico is rising rapidly. The 4,743 Chinese who arrived in 2013 made up the second-largest group of immigrants after the 12,000-odd Americans who were granted permanent residency.

Mexico is also seen as a prime destination for Chinese foreign investment, thanks to its abundance of natural resources and proximity to the U.S.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

China a threat to Mexican Artisans

China overwhelms craft production and invades the whole country

La Jornada
Monday February 16, 2015, p. 35

Heirs of ancient techniques and preservers of customs and rituals of the people, artisans are overwhelmed by Asian competition. Wooden toys, guitars, hats, embroidered blouses, figures typical Mexican ceramics, now have the seal made in China and they invade traditional artisans of Michoacan, Jalisco, Chiapas, Mexico State, Puebla, Campeche, Guerrero, even the shopping area Villa de Guadalupe.

There is a decline of artisans from lack of support, have made us a decorative and promotional object; extinguiéndonos are said Socorro Oropeza, leader of the National Union of Producers Craft Coyolxauhqui, which groups 15 000 artisans from 23 entities, mostly peasants without land.

He said that 18 small companies have disappeared that were affiliated for 12 years of fighting for the preservation of this activity, and-most women who continue to exceed 45 years engaged in other activities because "there is no market for handicrafts. Shoppers want low prices, do not care quality: the Mexican flag, made in China, costs 2.50 pesos and hundreds of small shops have disappeared in the center of the capital and the state of Mexico

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This blog is a continuation of one started by the proprietor of The Mex Files. With not enough time he offered to pass it along and here we are. If anyone has info to contribute, please leave it in the form of a comment

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