Thanksgiving a la Criolla

Hello friends and loved ones! I meant to post this on Thursday so I could wish you all a happy Thanksgiving, but by the time we finished cooking, our guests were sitting at our table; by the time we finished eating, it was well after midnight and I was, as they say here, full. Yesterday I spent the day in Ventanilla for a conference call with some Romanians and THEN a surprise party with all of the workshop participants from Jovenes de Buena Voluntad! They are so great.

So, I send you Thanksgiving love a few days late. I hope your turkeys/turduckens/tofurkens/pasta salads were delicious. I love
you all. AND special Thanksgiving love goes to Leah, Jeff, and their baby boy!!! I don't actually know if they read this blog, but I am excited for them nonetheless. Now I'm waiting for news from Jessica and Todd... Hillson/Krause/Hanley family, let me know!

So Rachel and I decided that it would be a good idea to plan and cook a Thanksgiving meal for a bunch of our Peruvian friends. The only challenge: we've never actually made a turkey, or cooked a whole holiday meal on our own, and also there are no cranberries in Peru as far as we can tell. In light of such challenges, we decided to throw THANKSGIVING A LA CRIOLLA, taking all of the flavors of Thanksgiving and approximating them with Peruvian foods.

Our menu?
  • "Pavo" a la brasa (good thing there's a rotisserie turkey place on our block)
  • Relleno de pastel de choclo, vegetables, and aji amarillo (corn bread and hot pepper stuffing)
  • Mango/Limon Chutney and Mango Salsa-- we were aiming for sweet&tart like cranberries. It kind of worked.
  • Pure de papas nativas (mashed potatoes) & vegetarian gravy
  • Ensalada de espinaca
  • Guacamole de puta madre (a staple at all parties) ("de puta madre" is slang for crazygood, but one shouldn't say it to the older ladies at Spanish mass)
  • Pie de camote y coco-- definitely the star of the show. Our friends Leidy and Betty made this sweet potato and coconut pie; it came out tasting like pumpkin pie, but better. Much, much better. Full disclosure: we stole the recipe from the Times, and you can make it, too.
Pictures below...

Here is my mango/limon chutney... really easy to make; just combine a cup of sugar and a cup of white vinegar and bring to boil, then add mango, golden raisins, garlic, lime zest, and lime juice and let simmer for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. WHAM.

Betty and Leidy, working on the Pie de Camote

Rach, with her stuffing made of pastel de choclo (pretty much corn bread), veggies, a chicken heart or two that we may have bought for about 68 cents, and aji amarillo.

Mmmmm... pie de camote in the center of the table

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!


Talentooooo Urbanoooo

On Sunday, my students from Jovenes de Buena Voluntad presented the show we've been working on for the past two months! JBV is a community-based organization run almost entirely by young people in Ventanilla, with help from one adult leader and a few volunteers from the area and abroad. The idea of the organization is that volunteers can suggest workshops, and the participants give feedback and then decide whether they want to participate. The young people also plan events and organize volunteer opportunities for themselves. It's a great model of grassroots organizing that emphasizes the importance of working in solidarity, and I've really loved working with them.

So: we staged TALENTO URBANO, a variety show that included improvisation, salsa, an original skit, juggling, and an awesome dance-off between break dancers and zanqueros (stilt walkers). The whole thing came together somewhat miraculously, considering that most of the actors missed our dress rehearsal (así es) and that we started about an hour late (par for the course). (A side note: a huge part of my learning curve has been relaxing my ideas of what it means to start "on time.") Nonetheless, the show was great-- the audience was really into it, and we had a full house by mid-show (people trickled in when they heard the music); the performers were energetic and funny and exciting to watch; and this was one of the first public events for JBV's new group in Villa los Reyes, so we got to share some of the work with the students' families and to spread the word about Jovenes de Buena Voluntad. On top of that, it was a lot fun, which was really the whole point in the first place.

Anyway, here are some pictures. Bravo to all of the performers!


El domingo, ¡mis estudiantes de Jóvenes de Buena Voluntad realizaron el espectáculo en que hemos trabajando por dos meses! JBV es una organización de la comunidad que está guiado casi totalmente por jóvenes en Ventanilla, con el apoyo del un líder adulto y varios voluntarios locales y extranjeros. La idea de la organización es que los voluntarios sugieren talleres, y los participantes dan consejos y, de allí, deciden si quieren participar. Los jóvenes también planean eventos y organizan oportunidades para ellos mismos. Es un buen modelo de organizando de base que enfatiza lo importancia de trabajar en solidaridad, y me encantó la experiencia de trabajar con ellos.

Entonces: realizamos TALENTO URBANO, un espectáculo que incluyó improvisación, salsa, una escena original, malabares, y una competencia de baile entre bailadores de break y zanqueros. Todo se arregló por milagros, creo, considerando que la mayoría de los actores les faltó nuestro último ensayo (así es) y que empezamos más o menos una hora tarde (normal). (Una nota: un gran parte de mi aprendizaje ha sido un relajamiento de mis ideas de que significa “empezar a tiempo.”) A pesar de todo, el espectáculo fue bacán: los espectadores se lo gustó, y el espacio estaba llena después de un tiempo (la gente entró poco a poco que escuchó la música); los actores fueron energéticos y graciosos, y fue emocionante a mirarlos; y eso fue uno de los primeros eventos públicos del nuevo grupo de JBV en Villa los Reyes, y entonces pudimos compartir el trabajo con las familias de los estudiantes y también pasar la voz sobre Jóvenes de Buena Voluntad. Al fin, fue muy divertido, lo que fue la meta al comienzo.

Aquí va algunas fotos. ¡Bravo a todos los actores!

Franco, Ali, y GianMarco

Ficha por Vanessa/Flyer, by Vanessa

Competencia entre los Zanqueros y Baildores del Break
Dance-Off between Stilt-Walkers and Break Dancers


Experta con 4 cabezas: Leti, Vanessa, Michel, Geysi
Four-headed Expert


Several Things of Note, brevemente

1. Last week was SexFest, or the First Annual Festival of Sexual and Reproductive Rights with la Casa de Panchita. Since May, we've been working with a group of about 25 young people to use Forum theatre and improvisation to talk about sex. The project was cool; the students were awesome; their pieces were funny, smart, and honest. But the event was a bit of a mess: the microphones malfunctioned, we started way late and wasted a lot of time battling with the mics, and the attendees were, at times, a bit out of control. Balloons, it turns out, are a lot more fun to pop than to admire from a distance, especially when it becomes clear that your teachers and those stupid extranjera volunteers in the funny vests aren't going to stop you (in my defense: I was busy working with my actors and couldn't do classroom management for 200 at the same time). It was disheartening.

But. BUT. There were still some major victories among my students: many of them had never acted before, and they did a great job. And they were speaking out about really important stuff-- contraception, abortion, consent. That was awesome. I was so, so proud of all of them.

2. I'm applying to grad school. It's not as easy as it looks.

3. I'm concerned that our Peruvian Perro sin Pelo may have brought fleas into the house, which seems counterintuitive since he doesn't have any hair. Nonetheless, something's been nibbling on me. Don't worry-- this isn't like the Great Bed Bug Panic of 2009-- but it IS disconcerting. Today I finally got up the nerve to clean under my bed. I found no bugs, just an alarming amount of dust and maybe some mold. Eurgh.

4. Rehearsals for the performance with Lili and Coqui are going well. We still need a title. More to come on that.

5. Talked to my little brother today, which was great! Gosh, I like him.

6. Elections last night deserve a comment. That comment is this: Obama et al, don't spend two years ignoring and mocking progressive voices and then blame us when the Democrats lose (check out Glenn Greenwald's comments about this here). And also, Russ Feingold, you will be missed.

7. On Monday, my housemate Erick took Rachel and me to the cemetery in Comas for Dia de los Muertos, or Dia de los Vivos, depending on who you talk to about the name. It was incredible. I don't have pictures because I decided to leave my camera at home, but I'll publish Erick's video when he finishes editing it. Stay tuned.