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Latino Lifestyle Magazine

Victims of the

Down-Low Zambrano

Hears His Calling Latino Rock Bands Cross a New Border Frosty Looks That Will Keep You Warm

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Latino Lifestyle Magazine

FEATURES victims of a secret life

Latinas are at a higher risk of contracting HIV/AIDS from heterosexual contact. words Randi Belisomo Hernández

my acculturated xmas

How Chicago Latinos renew cultural ties to their homelands during the holidays. words Benjamin Ortiz





a universal language

Local Latino rock bands are crossing a new linguistic border. words Christina E. Rodríguez

Sermon on the mound

The Cubs’ Carlos Zambrano shows his spiritual side. words Christina E. Rodríguez

Detail shot of music equipment at the practice space of Pure Remedy. Page 48 | photo eddie quiñones |



DEPARTMENTS 8 Editor’s Note Contributors 10 Dear Café

Alejandro Riera Reader feedback

Café Espresso

13 Somos 14 ¿sabías que? 15 The Buzz take quote

16 upgrade 18 voices 19 sinvergüenza 20 la plaza 22 MI GENTE 24 spotlight

Fernando Beteta Cultural factoids Must attend events 2009: good or bad year? Holiday gift ideas Carlos Hernández Gómez Holiday shameful acts Second Federal’s future A tequila tradition lives on Rebel Diaz’s hip hop power

Café Filter


30 con gusto 34 familia 36 BE WELL

A new way to celebrate Xmas The ideal potluck dinner Latino foster parents Diabetes: Latino’s no. 1 enemy

Café Grande


Warm ideas for a frosty season >

CafÉ Blend

7 MUST DO 6 0 todo tosí 7

74 dining 76 restaurant guide 78 Scene at 80 A mí Me enseñaron

In the Heights in Chicago Calendar of events The perfect tres leches cake A list of Latino eateries Latino social scene A donde come uno…

| photo akin girav |


Latino LifestyLe Magazine



< Cover Me Cafe Media photo illustration by alBerto Treviño.


Hears His Calling Latino Rock Bands Cross a New Border Frosty Looks That Will Keep You Warm

-CAFE08_COV1.indd 1


10/15/09 5:12 PM

| photo alberto treviño |


Contenders > Covers that did not make it, but came in a strong second place. More of Café’s photo:

No08 NOVeMBeR | DeCeMBeR09

Latino LifestyLe Magazine

No08 NOVeMBeR | DeCeMBeR09

No08 NOVeMBeR | DeCeMBeR09

Latino LifestyLe Magazine

Latino LifestyLe Magazine




Fear life on the downlow is toughest on your health

life on the downlow is toughest on your family, marige and health

Through the eyes of the

VICTIm ‘the downlow’ lifestyle is toughest on you, your family and your health

Latino Rock Bands Cross a New Border

Zambrano Hears His Calling

Frosty Looks That Will Keep You Warm

Latino Rock Bands Cross a New Border

Zambrano Hears His Calling

Frosty Looks That Will Keep You Warm

Latino Rock Bands Cross a New Border

Zambrano Hears His Calling

Frosty Looks That Will Keep You Warm

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Alejandro Riera Were you expecting to see a holiday related cover in this issue? So were we. We assigned our team of freelance writers a series of really neat, quirky and, in some cases, irreverent stories and columns that looked at the ways acculturated Latinos celebrate the holidays. Some were touching (Carlos Hernández Gómez’s column about his great-grandmother, p. 18) and some were practical (Chris Weitman’s guide to organizing a potluck party, pp. 30-31). We also knew that, given that Dec. 1st is World AIDS Day, we had to do a story on this topic. AIDS is still a scourge in our community, especially among women. According to the Center for Diseases Control, HIV/AIDS is the 4th leading cause of death among Latinas ages 35-44 years. We had also heard about this notion of “living on the downlow,” that is, the practice of men having sex with men, living a bisexual life unbeknownst to their female partners. According to the Latino Commission on AIDS, Latinos who indulge in this lifestyle have been cited as one of the primary reasons for an increase in HIV infections amongst Latinas (you can read the full report at We knew we had a potential story in our hands, one of those stories that throws a rare light on a hidden corner of our community. Once we read Randi Belisomo Hernández’s story on this subject, we knew we had no choice but to feature it on our cover. It was not an easy story to tackle, photographically speaking. One of our subjects, after agreeing to being photographed  discreetly to protect her identity, declined at the last minute to have her photo taken. I could have very easily pushed the publication of the story to a future issue in order to insure a better graphic layout. But, given the timeliness and seriousness of the subject matter, we decided to go ahead with it. We put our thinking caps on and figured out a way to illustrate it. This issue is quite a head-scratcher when it comes to content. This powerful AIDS story shares the same edition with our holiday content, a one-on-one interview with Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano and a piece about what makes the perfect Tres Leches cake. If you think that mix was quite eclectic, wait ‘til you see what we have in store for 2010.

editor’s note



Abel Arciniega Photographer and designer Abel Arciniega received his bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts from Columbia College Chicago. He started his design career with some of the original Cafeteros at Exito Newspaper, the Spanish-language publication of the Chicago Tribune, now HOY Newspaper. By day he is the production art manager at Extra Bilingual Newspaper, and by night he is a freelance editorial and commercial photographer. He is founder and owner of Tequila Graphics Inc., a full-service creative team. Abel is the proud father of a 6-month-old baby boy, Joaquin.

The CONTRIBUTORS El Guapo Prophet. Superhero. Crusader. The pinnacle of human existence. Needless to say — too Guapo for words. He spends his days grooming his copious chest hair, scrutinizing sinvergüenza behavior like an avid anthropologist, and working tirelessly to help humanity better understand and avoid the dark shameless void. Maura Wall Hernández Maura Wall Hernández is a journalist and photographer and the author of “The Other Side of The Tortilla”, a traditional Mexican cooking blog. She is also an adjunct faculty member at Columbia College Chicago and teaches new media workshops in the city. You can visit her at Tony Bryan New York City-born, Chicago-based Tony Bryan has been annoying his tailors since the age of sixteen, demanding, among other adjustments, pant legs of 6 and 7/8 inches wide. A rusty van window provided a vista to the country for many years while playing saxophone with 1950s R&B band HiFi & the Roadburners. Prominence of jaw and cut of jib gave reason for him to join the march to Milan and jostle with the underpaid legion of male models. Bryan is tickled to be working with old pal Akin Girav and the staff of Café for the winter fashion shoot.

Publisher Julián G. Posada Café media Advisors


Editor-in-Chief Managing Editor

Copy Editors Proofreader

Editorial Assistant

Editorial Interns

Martin Castro, George De Lama, david hutchinson,

Alejandro Riera marilia t. gutiérrez GIna Santana Marie Joyce Garcia Chris MALCOLM DarHiana Mateo Vera Napoleon CHRISTINA E. RODRíGUEZ WENDY MONCADA ELISA SANTANA

IAN LARKIN, carlos santiago, david selby, john wollney EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD


Art Director Graphic Designers

alberto treviÑo wendy melgar judd ortiz Graphic Design Interns edward mchugh Jason Rivera Jessica Quiñones alice traufler Web Development james cicenia

West Southeast Northeast

sales Coast Sales Manager isis Gonzalez Coast Sales Manager GINA TINOCO Coast Sales Manager tracy wasicek Sales Associates Denise Carrasco

Norma Magaña, Francisco Menchaca Special Thanks Daniel Bleier, Michael Bleier, WILLIAM GRAHAM, michael keiser, ROBERT KING, Henry Kingwill, Pete kingwill, martin koldyke,

Ian Larkin, William Mckenna, SUSAN SNOWDEN

marketing MITCHell POSADA Gina Santana freddie baez jillian sipkins Marketing & PR Liaison gardenia rangel Digital Marketing Coordinator christina merced


Business Development Director Brand Strategy & Communications Marketing Coordinators

Circulation Manager bill loster Circulation Assistant maría lourdes ramos IT Manager Jorge Jiménez

benjamin ortiz, michael puente, marla seidell, maura wall hernández CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Elia l. Alamillo, julieta r. alvarez, abel arciniega, ken carl, mitchell casey, stacie freudenberg, AKIN Girav, lynda guillú, eddie quiñones, jillian sipkins, denise stanley CONTRIBUTING Stylists and Models

Luis Rosado

Roujay Vargas

contributing writers randi belisomo hernández, christina chavez weitman, amina elahi, carlos hernández gómez, angélica herrera, DARHIANA MATEO,

Diageo diana fujimura


Executive Title Martha Tovias Gomez Consulting Angel Gomez Grainger katie porter HACE Andrea Saenz Harris Bank Lilia Alvarado Home State Bank Magdalena Rivera The LDI Group Brian SOrge Loyola University Chicago regina treviño Mesirow Financial Juan Carlos Avila National City/PNC Bruce Lines National Louis University Ana Maria Soto The Resurrection Project Raul Raymundo UIC LARES Program Leonard Ramírez

Interior Design Stylist Bridget Johnson Fashion Stylist tony bryan, ford models Fashion Set Designer Benjamin Cottrell Fashion Set Design Artist Vyto Grybauskas Hair Stylist Gia Tumillo Make-up Artist Lia Rivette Ford Models, Fashion rose costa

stock photos

DJ Nica Luis Calero jose jara Fandango ted hong Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce omar duque Roberto Cornelio Lopez CPA enrique lopez Macondo Leo Suarez Maranon Capital Jana Gardella m?rk mark flores NBC 5 Chicago Steve Bryant

Lora Johnson-Lesage

chris peÑA


Ratio Nation Rick Morales Swilrz Cupcakes Paula Malone Pam Rose Vocalo BIBIANA ADAMES


Zocalo edgar castaÑEDA

marcos castañeda

nelly aguilar, AL AUGAITIS, chris belec, Luis Calero, Alejandro Garcia, michael Gray, miriam gutierrez, tracy krogstie,mike murnane, Ramon Muñoz, christian ortega, julia rendon, jim seidler, Carlo Seran, sharon stallworth


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As always, thank you for your comments and suggestions. We look forward to each and every one: the good, the bad and the ugly. So keep them coming. The more we hear from you, the more we’ll strive to improve your Café experience. 6/15



2 AM

Are we At the brink of A l MAyAn spirituA AwAkening?

The Ink of Chicago Comic Book Artists


I’m from the Ukraine. I have some friends who are of Hispanic origin since I moved to the U.S. three years ago and I’m proud of them. That’s why I don’t agree with Carlos Hernández Gómez and his words against Hispanic Heritage Month (“Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month? What For?,” Sept./Oct.). Every nation needs to have such a month. Yes, maybe the holiday is a bit commercialized, but that doesn’t mean that Hispanic pride should be kept inside a room. Generation after generation, your traditions will be kept. Share them with us. When we see you celebrating, we are proud of what you are doing, we know how much you respect who you are. And we want to do the same. It’s important to know each day where we came from, who we are. Iryna Shalak, Chicago HEALTH CARE WARRIORS

Enjoyed your article (“Los Dos Amigos,” Sep./ Oct.). I too had a wonderful doctor, Jose Alonzo, who I saw around 1966 and who discovered a very serious heart condition and even vouched for me to be seen at St. Luke’s Presbyterian Hospital, now Rush. The hospital was concerned about my insurance coverage. We had Blue Cross insurance, but Dr. Alonzo actually said he would be responsible, “Just SEE this child.” Me. I looked him up a couple years ago and he had just died outside of Chicago. He was divorced, but had dedicated his life to helping his patients. Sara Zayas, Rochester, Michigan Thank you for this article. As a child, I was blessed to have been a patient of Dr. Frank Yanez and Dr. Jose Alonzo (noted in the comment by Sara Zayas). I remember Dr. Yanez as being kind and patient at all of my check-up visits. He and Dr. Alonzo are greatly responsible for my finding interest in and deciding to pursue medicine as a career. Gabriela Baeza, Indianapolis I recently relocated to New York and it gave me pleasure to read about someone who impacted my life in such a positive way as a child and young adult. Dr. Frank Yanez always provided excellent care and was willing to see his patients even into the late hours, if needed. Personally, I am very grateful to him for the wisdom and encouragement he gave my siblings and I. Ma. Eugenia Baeza-De La Rosa, New York

Bringing Music to the People

CAFE UPDATE: Dr. Domingo O’Cherony, Dr. Yanez’s good friend and subject of “Los Dos Amigos,” died of heart failure at the age of 97 on Sept. 27. Two of our readers left their appreciation for Dr. O’Cherony on our Facebook fan page:

I will miss Dr. O’Cherony. He was always a part of our family. All my love and condolences to his family. I will treasure the recent story about him in your magazine. Thank you for that. Pirada Molina Diosito has taken him back to heaven. He is working with St. Raphael now, helping to heal from heaven as well. Ivonne Canellada RESPONDING TO THE CONTRARIANS

It’s interesting how these three individuals (Rossana Pulido, Mauro Mujica and Linda Chavez, “Against the Current,” Sept./ Oct.) fail to recognize the opportunities they were given to achieve success, but are so quick to deny the same to others. Perhaps these three professionals should devote their energy in trying to ensure that current Latinos and Latinas in the United States receive the same breaks they did. Then, I would actually begin to believe they have the best interest of the American people at heart. Sylvia Caballero, Berwyn, Ill. UNFASHIONABLE CONTENT

I love your magazine. I don’t know how I started receiving it but I’m glad I did. I have one issue with your magazine, though, as it seems with most Hispanic magazines, and that is the fashion. Why don’t we use Hispanic models? Also, it seems that the items shown are not from Hispanic designers and the clothes are not affordable. I tried to look up two of the items I liked and could not find them at their Web sites, plus the prices were extremely expensive for the average Hispanic. What’s the point if we can’t purchase these items? Would you consider the changes: Hispanic models, Hispanic designers and finally affordable fashion? Syl Torres (via e-mail) CAFE RESPONSE: Dear Syl, thanks for your note. Our fashion content is designed to be both inspirational and aspirational. We hope it inspires our readers to create similar looks at affordable prices. As acculturated Latinos, we support not only the works created by our Latino peers, but also those created by mainstream designers. In regards to featuring Latino models, look no further than the fashion spread featured on pages 52-59.

Send your comments to, post them at or write to Letters to the Editor, Café Magazine, 660 W. Grand Ave., Chicago, IL 60654. Include your full name, address and daytime phone number. Submissions may be edited for length and clarity.


| OCtOber09

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Dear Café ...

aT Maribute de to T The ho ultimse W ate ho H Sac ave rific e


Ou RF aLL eN

Lif es ty Le Ma ga zi


hts Summertime Delig across the country




Enter to win a culinary travel adventure!

Experience the flavors of the famed culinary region of Oaxaca, Mexico on a guided, all expense paid gourmet tour. Dare to explore is designed with the food lover in mind. Winners will visit markets, vineyards, bakeries, and cheese makers, as well as walks and tours of historic and scenic interest. The winner’s experiences will be published in Café. To register, log on to

The winner and travel companion must be 21 years old, have proof of valid passport for travel and available to travel in the month of February 2010. Register to win at No purchase necessary. Sweepstakes starts 11/01/09 and ends 12/30/09. Must be 18 years or older and a legal U.S. resident of Cook County, IL or a country that shares geographic border with Cook


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Harris National received the highest numerical score in a tie among retail banks in the Midwest (IL, OH, IN, MO, WI, MN, MI, IA) region in the proprietary J.D. Power and Associates 2009 Retail Banking Satisfaction Study.SM Study based on a total of 28,570 responses measuring 21 providers in the region and measures opinions of consumers with their primary banking provider. Proprietary study results are based on experiences and perceptions of consumers surveyed in January 2009. Your experiences may vary. Visit Harris® is a trade name used by Harris N.A. and its affiliates. Member FDIC



Fernando Beteta 33, Master Sommelier, NoMi at the Park Hyatt Chicago photo

Akin Girav

How many languages do you speak? Four, fluently. English, Spanish, French and Italian. I can communicate with people in Thai and order a beer and a brat in German. How long did it take to get your Master Sommelier diploma? It took me four attempts and passed it in February of this year. I became the 99th person in the United States to be a Master Sommelier and one out of 171 in the world. That’s the most difficult exam in the world for sommeliers. How long does it take to study for it? On average it takes about six to 10 years. I did it in six which is fast. As a requirement, you have to work at a restaurant for a number of years. What does the exam entail? It’s different levels of exams. There’s theory knowledge so, knowing all the laws of every wine producing country, learning grapes, learning all the theoretical percentages of sugar and alcohol. Then there’s a practical side where you have to pass an exam in a dining room that the master sommeliers set up, like a mock exam, decanting a bottle of old wine, opening champagne, pairing food and wine. Basically they’re trying to trip you up. Then there’s the wine tasting. You have six wines from anywhere in the world and you have 25 minutes to tell them the grape, the country, the region and the vintage. What’s one thing that people wouldn’t know about you by looking at you? I was a DJ, had yellow hair and was a skate boarder. I was a bad student and I wasn’t always the serious person you see in the restaurant. How do you take your Café? Black with a little sugar. Complete interview and Fernando’s tips on wine, visit 13


¿SabÍasquE? Peruvian Christmas Hikes The Chocolatadas are a tradition carried out by churches, merchants, organizations and, more recently, international tourists during the holidays in Peru. These Christmas hikes began as a way to spread holiday cheer to poor children and homeless people. All throughout December groups of hikers trek out into the Andean countryside bringing hot chocolate, toys and bizcochos — sweet bread with fruit filling — to remote mountain villages. Rompope — A Holy Drink? Mexico’s traditional holiday drink, rompope — a kind of liqueur eggnog — originated in Puebla’s Convento de Santa Clara in the 17th century. We owe some of our greatest fuzzy New Year’s memories to the culinary efforts of a Clarista nun. At the time, each nun had a designated kitchen chore, and Sister Eduviges was in charge of making the rompope served to political and religious dignitaries traveling through Puebla. The sweet and creamy party favorite is a concoction of milk, egg yolks, cinnamon, vanilla – and, of course, let’s not forget the rum. José Feliciano’s “Feliz Navidad” The bilingual holiday hit “Feliz Navidad,” written by Puerto Rican singer-songwriter-guitarist José Feliciano, was recognized in 2002 by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers as one of the top 25 most played and recorded Christmas songs in the world. However, if you’re a 1970s pop-era child, your greatest reference to this song comes from the TV special “Christmas Eve on Sesame Street.” You might remember chanting along to “I wanna wish you a Merry Christmas” while watching an endearing little blonde girl teach Big Bird how to ice skate. This just goes to show that you’re not truly famous until you’ve guest starred on Sesame Street.


Derek Parra The first Mexican-American to compete and win a gold medal in the Winter Olympics was speedskater Derek Parra. Originally from Southern California, Parra pioneered the ranks of Latino Olympic medalists by winning the gold in the 1,500 meter race at the Salt Lake City 2002 Winter Games. The two-time world record holder was chosen as the carrier of the World Trade Center flag during that year’s opening ceremonies. He’s since been inducted into the Roller-Skating Hall of Fame. The Chilean Santa Claus Many present-loving youngsters in Chile don’t stay up on Nochebuena to see a man in a red and white suit step out of their living room chimney. Instead, they wait up for El Viejo Pascuero, which roughly translates as “Christmas Old Man.” He’s sometimes seen as a local rancher accompanied by a llama. El Viejo Pascuero climbs in through a window at the stroke of midnight on Christmas Eve bearing gifts for Chilean children. Hannukkah in July? In Argentina, Hannukkah is celebrated by Jews in the middle of the summer when many schools are closed and the weather is warm. During this time Menorah lightings are held across Chabad-Lubavich centers in Buenos Aires. Most of the Jewish population in Argentina prepares for Hannukkah by visiting Once, the historic Jewish sector of Buenos Aires. Once is filled with shops, kosher restaurants and synagogues. sources:,,,,,,,

TAKE QUOTE Comments from the cafe media facebook fan page www.facebook. com/cafemedia

THEBUZZ ROOM FOR ONE MORE MOVIE November and December are traditionally very hectic movie-going months. The Hollywood studios release more movies in that 61-day span than one has possibly time for. Some of these upcoming releases, like James Cameron’s “Avatar” (Dec. 18), are already generating some buzz, particularly among science-fiction aficionados. Shot in 3-D and combining live action with computer-generated characters, Cameron’s first film in 12 years tells the story of a paralyzed Marine chosen to participate in a program that enables him to walk and visit other planets while assuming a different identity, even body. Three Latinos head “Avatar’s” cast: Zoë Saldaña, Michelle Rodriguez and Laz Castro. Another film that has us really excited is “Fantastic Mr. Fox” (opens in NY and LA Nov. 13, Chicago Nov. 20 and nationwide Nov. 25), Wes Anderson’s stop-motion animation take on Roald Dahl’s book about a war between farmers and a sly fox voiced by

George Clooney. We are equally looking forward to Peter Jackson’s adaptation of Alice Seibold’s best-selling novel “The Lovely Bones” (Dec. 11) about a girl who watches over her family after being raped and assassinated; and Pedro Almodóvar’s “Broken Embraces” (in limited release Nov. 20, opening wide in late December), about a blind scriptwriter forced to reveal the secrets of his former life as a filmmaker. Penélope Cruz does double duty as creative muse for Almodóovar in the aforementioned film and for Rob Marshall and Daniel Day-Lewis in “Nine” (Nov. 25), the big screen adaptation of the Broadway musical which once counted with Raúl Juliá and Antonio Banderas as its lead protagonists. RADIO BEMBA LLEGÓ So, you are done singing all the carols and drinking all the eggnog and your party is beginning to peter out. You

know you need something to bring the energy level back up. You need some Manu Chao. The French-Spanish singer and former founder of Mano Negra will release “Baionarena” on Nov. 17, a double live CD and DVD recorded at the Roman Amphitheatre in Bayonne, France. You and your friends can dance, and maybe even mosh pit (as long as the furniture is out the way) to “Clandestino,” “Bienvenido a Tijuana” and “Rumba de Barcelona” while waiting for Santa. For more information, go to

ALL TOGETHER OOKY “The Addams Family,” Charles Addams’ immortal creations, has more lives than 13 black cats. After several film and TV incarnations (and as far as we are concerned, Raúl Juliá is the best Gomez Addams ever), the entire Addams clan is headed to Broadway in a brand new musical created by “Jersey Boys” authors Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, choreographed by Sergio Trujillo, and starring Nathan Lane as Gomez and Bebe Neuwirth as Morticia. The world premiere, though, will be taking place in our very own backyard, at the Ford Center/Oriental Theater, 151 W. Randolph St., Nov. 13-Jan. 10. For more information, visit or

Was 2009 a Good or a Bad Year for You?

Virginia “Viky” Garcia (Laredo, TX) “2009 was a year of miracles. I learned to walk again — literally. I learned that I have many great friends and that I should never doubt the support of my family. I may be unemployed, up to my neck in medical bills, and still in recovery after a coma and many broken bones — but I am happy.” Jessica Guerrero (Summit, IL.) “Although this has been the hardest year financially, this has also been a great year. This struggle has brought the family closer together. This closeness is something I have always wanted growing up, but never experienced, and am now truly counting my blessings. We appreciate everything that we have done and will continue to do for each other.” Daniel Sogamoso (Los Angeles, CA) “2009 has opened up new doors. It started off in my parents’ home country of Colombia but, by putting myself and my art out there with more feedback and possibilities than I could have ever imagined, it opened up my eyes to all the opportunities I need to take advantage of here. When I go back I won’t think so much about what I could’ve, should’ve, would’ve done. This level of enlightenment and prosperity is only the beginning of the wave of success I plan to ride in 2010.” Miguel Velez (Chicago, IL) Bad, struggling economy has affected my company severely. I continue to lift my head up high knowing things could be worse.” 15

caféespresso | UPGRADE

GIVE the unexpected This holiday season try giving a little bit of tradition along with the latest gadgets You blinked … and now the holidays are upon us once again. This year, give tradition as a gift.

La Parrandera Gift Basket ($75)

Mia Bella is a florist in Puerto Rico that specializes in packaging all the goodies needed for a traditional Puerto Rican holiday celebration in beautiful baskets. Our favorite is La Parrandera, packed with sangria, turrones, coconut balls and other traditional sweets. It comes with a pair of maracas wrapped on the outside to complete the look. Handmade Rooster on Wheels Toy ($34) Kodak Zi8 Pocket Video Camera ($180)

For the younger set, how about a throwback toy from your childhood? With this handmade Rooster on Wheels from PrettyDreamer’s shop on, you can relive those days. Nothing noisy or flashy, just a simple, well-made, colorful toy for the holidays. The Rooster on Wheels might teach your child to appreciate the simple things in life.

For the gadget-obsessed, there’s the new pocket-friendly Kodak Zi8 video camera. Not only does it record, it also works as a snapshot camera. Video quality is compatible with YouTube and Facebook. The expandable memory card slot ensures up to 10 hrs. of video, more than enough to capture some great holiday celebrations. Salvadoran Nesting Boxes ($36)

Altec FX5051 Powered Audio System ($250)

Great gift for the philanthropist in your life. These lovely handpainted boxes from El Salvador aren’t just for storing — your purchase, helps One World Projects provide economic alternatives for artisans in over 25 countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia.

Altec Lansing’s FX5051 Audio System comes with six surround-sound speakers that connect to your PC and are compatible with any digital music player. It includes a headphone jack for private listening and a wireless remote making it easy for you to dance and play DJ simultaneously. This is the kind of present you may let someone unwrap in advance.




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caféESpresso | Voices

s e i r o m e M Che rish The m, Write The m Down

Carlos HernÁndez


one great racket i fondly that you not only got gifts for christmas but you also got them for dia de los reyes


As I write this I am recovering from a radical and, God-willing, life-saving cancer surgery. I’ve made it through with the support of a loving wife, family and friends. But as I lay in my hospital bed I realized there was a relative I missed, mi bisabuela, my beloved greatgrandmother Monserrate Isabel Cruz Cuevas. And as I thought of all the love and comfort she brought to my life, my thoughts turned to the Christmas holiday and all the memories of her that I cherish to this day, and also what a pest I was as our household prepared for the holidays. It was exciting being one of two little boys in a house full of adults as Christmas approached, especially considering all of the attention that would come our way. But it were also the sights and smells that still captivate me to this day. In those days, the small kitchen in our apartment (which then housed seven people from five generations) was turned into a pasteles factory. Pasteles are a uniquely Puerto Rican delicacy that you don’t often enjoy due to the complexity of their preparation. There was this contraption, which my primo Mark jokingly recalls as a homemade Puerto Rican Cuisinart. My great-grandmother would put the plátanos in on top, then some loud mechanical noises would follow and, magically, they would come out on the bottom mashed up and ready to be stuffed, wrapped in foil, (on the island it would be plantain leaves) and then frozen or boiled. Needless to say, the process was too complicated for me to participate in, but I did enjoy watching. She made so many I wondered just who would eat them all. But then again she was the matriarch of my family this side of the Caribbean. Just one floor below us lived her daughter, who was also my great-aunt/godmother and her family. She would invariably share some with neighbors; that is, until gentrification moved us Ricans out of Lincoln Park. Me being the hyperactive boy that I was I needed to participate. Luckily for me, it

came time to make the empanadillas, and that appealed much better to my skills set. My great-grandmother would flour our 1950s vintage, cracked-ice pattern Formica and chrome kitchen table, then roll out the dough, cut circles, and fill each one individually with either pork or ground beef. My brother and I were each given a fork, and our job was to make the ridges on the edges, something even I could handle. Then she would put the large cast iron pan on the burner and took the tub of manteca (lard) out of the refrigerator. She scooped up gobs of lard that almost resembled vanilla ice cream and dropped them into the pan. They would soon liquify and when it hit just the right temperature, my great-grandmother would drop in the empanadillas and would shortly flip them. They came out a golden brown. The smell was so good, but the taste was even better. As a devout Catholic, I can honestly say I would hijack a busload of nuns if only I could taste them again. Needless to say, mine are not as good. But it wasn’t just about all the great food. One great racket I fondly remember connected with growing up Puerto Rican in Chicago is you not only got gifts for Christmas, but you also got them for Día de los Reyes, or Three Kings Day. Well, it was a good racket until my mother stopped my grandfather from giving my brother and me gifts for both holidays. And while I was sore about it at the time, my humble baker grandfather never had much for himself, largely because of his overemphasis on my brother and me. I have since rekindled the tradition with my Italian/southern American wife, and she seems to like it (I guess they don’t have anything like it in Memphis.) So the simple moral of today’s self-indulgent remembrance is to cherish every moment with the family elders. If you can, record them. You’ll thank me and yourself years later. And for God’s sake, write down the recipes. It’s much easier than trying to sort through 30-year-old memories, I assure you.


SinvergÜenza: A Holiday Survival Guide

Unable to provide a definition for pornography, a former Supreme Court justice once said,“I know it when I see it.” The same can be said of sinvergüenza behavior. It shuns definition. And since the holiday road in particular is paved with these abyss-like sinvergüenza potholes, what kind of heartless jerk would El Guapo be if he let you drive blind? Through diligent examination, we can better grasp these inexplicable pendejadas, and — God willing — avoid a few muffler-rattling moments. So let’s learn through the errors of others. Sit back and let the pros navigate your holiday season

SinvergÜenza Gift Ideas

Be more mature

(Avoid, unless you intend to be sole commander of the WTF army)

Aww, f@*k! Where’d that kid go? She was right behind you a couple blocks ago. Damn those tiny legs. You should’ve left her in the car and cracked the window open.

Knockoffs from the flea market

Your kids will roll their eyes at their new pair of Sikes with the checkmark logo. At school, they’ll be beaten and kicked with real Nikes (BTW — Spiderman doesn’t have a yellow uniform and perfume shouldn’t burn and smell like bleach.)

Rake in more $$$

Halloween popcorn tins

You hear you get $500 if you turn in someone who has illegal cable. With all of your friends and family, this is going to be a good year — we’re talking Oprah money.

It’s on clearance Nov. 1st; times are tough. We get it. Doesn’t mean anyone wants a cheap, stale tinful of popcorn in December.

Holiday Survival Guide: Learning Through cautionary tales

Clothing — for a woman

Be forewarned: Buy chones that are too big and you think she’s fat. Buy them too small and you’re saying that’s the size she should be. It’s like Russian roulette without the empty chamber. (Explaining that you got her and the mistress confused again is not the best cleanup strategy.) Deep fryer

Your Tio’s blood pressure is through the roof, and he just had a heart attack. Piénsalo. Does he really need a deep fried Twinkie? Just skip the middleman and smother him with the nearest pillow already.

Top 3 Sinvergüenza Resolutions Like hearts, Fabergé eggs, promises and wind, resolutions are meant to be broken, but sinvergüenzas don’t mess around. Lose weight

You’re serious this time. Renewing the gym membership. More veggies. But first you must know how some of this lechón would taste after a little swim in your Tío’s new deep fryer…and you will ride your Segway to the kitchen and find out.

A quick map of some holiday scenes where hall of fame sinvergüenzas have left their mark. Because we are feeling rather generous this holiday season, the names of these sinvergüenzas have been changed to protect their families: Office Holiday Party/Nora

Nora got drunk, Xeroxed herself, confessed to the Kennedy assassination and made out with a Swingline stapler — and only later was told that all she had been drinking was sparkling cider. Winter Fun/Mario

In an effort to bring reality back to Christmas, Mario started constructing anatomically correct snowpersons for the neighborhood kids. He’s currently serving 3-6 years. Thanksgiving/Reymundo

While wearing elastic pants on Thanksgiving is either brilliant or shameless depending on who you ask, Reymundo went one better: NO PANTS. He put away a legendary 45 tamales and a Diet Coke that Thanksgiving. RIP, ‘Mundo. Gone, but not forgotten… Parking/Matteo

Finding city parking in the snow is cutthroat. So instead of the usual Latino place saver — a lawn chair — Matteo stepped it up and left swaddled babies to stake his claim. Sadly, not even this guaranteed his spot. 19


Can Second Federal Savings survive? words

Michael Puente photo Ken Carl

Rising foreclosures, federal requirements and internal struggles threaten the existence of this Little Village institution From trying to obtain home mortgages to personal loans, Dan Arce isn’t unlike the thousands of other customers who have turned to Second Federal Savings for financial aid and services for his family through the years. Second Federal has become a part of Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood as much as the street vendors who sell those refreshing paletas on hot summer days along 26th Street. In fact, Second Federal has been a fixture in the community long before Mexican immigrants began arriving to the neighborhood in the late 1960s. Second Federal began as a “building and loan” back in 1882, an old-time phrase that brings back memories of the holiday classic “It’s a Wonderful Life.” In its early years, Second Federal served more Eastern Europeans. As the decades went on and Mexican immigrants began moving in, Second Federal didn’t hesitate to serve the needs of this growing community.


Mark Doyle, Second Federal Savings’ vice president of community development, says minority designation would help the bank gain access to global financial institutions and possibly obtain TARP funds.

“The bank is really vital to the community,” says Arce, owner of Tropical Optical and board member of the Little Village Chamber of Commerce. “They’ve helped a lot of people who wouldn’t be able to get loans anywhere else.” Second Federal is known as a thrift bank in which depositors are the bank’s owners. It does not have stock nor is it publicly traded. In recent years, Second Federal garnered national attention as the first bank in Chicago to provide mortgages to undocumented workers. Clients who are in the crosshairs of the U.S. immigration debate make up about a third of Second Federal’s client base. With the recent collapse of the American banking industry, new rules are forcing the bank to increase deposits and avoid risky loans. “What’s happening at Second Federal right now is we’re

laplaza facing an unprecedented number of foreclosures. I mean, we’ve never experienced this in the past,” says Mark Doyle, vice president of community development at Second Federal. “The biggest problem that we’re seeing in our community is that real estate values are tanking.” Rising foreclosures and sinking property values aren’t unique to Chicago. It’s happening all over the country, most notably in Nevada and Florida. Several large banks have faced huge losses, even greater than Second Federal. But those “too big to fail” banks were able to secure cash from the federal government in a program known as the Troubled Asset Relief Fund. Some banks just blocks away from Second Federal got relief from TARP – but not Second Federal. “The FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation) is telling us they won’t give (TARP funds) to community banks like ours because we’re a thrift and we’re not too big to fail,” Doyle says. U.S. Treasury Department spokeswoman Meg Reilly says the Obama administration’s Financial Stability Plan is serving minority-owned banks in several ways. “The Public Private Investment program encourages program participation by small minority- and women-owned businesses. The Capital Purchase Program includes many small minority- and women-owned participants as well,” Reilly says. “You will also find numerous Hispanic, African-American, women, disabled and tribal organization recipients of Recovery Act funds.” Of the more than 8,300 banks in the United States, less than 330 are considered minority- or women-owned, according to Creative Investment Research, an organization that keeps track of minority banks.  Moreover, of the $700 billion in the TARP program, about 1 percent has gone to minority-owned banks, including Banco Popular, according to Bill Cunningham of Washington-based Creative Investment Research. “We think that’s low, especially given the track record that these institutions have in reaching out and serving the community in a responsible manner,” Cunningham said in a recent interview with National Public Radio.   NEW OBSTACLES Second Federal faces a number of hurdles if it wants to continue operating. In the spring, the U.S. Office of Thrift Supervision placed a cease and desist order against the bank.               “It puts controls over what we can and cannot do,” Doyle says. “We have some restrictions on lending, but most banks have restrictions on lending right now. We are running business as usual.” But the order by the OTS requires Second Federal to come up with a liquidity plan, have qualified senior executives, improve its loan collection efforts and establish a capital plan. Another way Second Federal is trying to find assistance is through the FDIC’s Minority Deposit Institutions program. In essence, the bank, despite its long history of serving a majority-minority community, is attempting to be designated officially a “minority/Hispanic-owned” financial institution. Doyle says if Second Federal obtains MDI designation, it would help the bank’s bottom line by having access to global financial institutions and could possibly help the bank obtain TARP funds.

“Businesses, people, not-for-profit organizations can invest in the bank in terms of equity ownership. We would get government agency deposits, non-withdrawable deposits. There’s technical assistance to protect against insolvency. The list goes on and on,” he says. There are two main requirements for the bank to achieve this designation. The first is that it must serve a minority community. This requirement won’t pose much of a problem for the bank to meet, Doyle says. The second requirement could prove fatal to Second Federal because of internal struggles within the bank’s sevenmember board of directors, of which only two are Latino. The bank must expand its board and bring on new Latinos, or it will likely not receive MDI designation. So far, there has been some pushback by those on the bank’s board of directors to bring on more Hispanics to its ranks. Board president Connie Lara did not return several phone calls made to her office seeking comment. That mindset baffles longtime customers and business owners like Arce, who was surprised to learn of the lack of Latino board members at Second Federal. Community and business leaders like him have demanded meetings with Second Federal’s board of directors, but so far those efforts have been thwarted. “We’re starting an uproar. A lot of people are behind this and everyone is going to be watching,” he says. Arce says Little Village needs a bank that looks more like the community it serves, in an effort to be more responsible or risk being left behind just like any other bank that calls 26th Street home these days. In Illinois, there are 15 banks with MDI status, mostly in the Chicagoland area. Of those, 11 are Asian-owned banks and four are African-American-owned banks. To business leader Francisco Menchaca, those numbers are startling since Latinos represent 16 percent of the population in Illinois. Yet with 4 percent of the population, Asians own 75 percent of the MDI banks. This is why Menchaca, a board member of the Little Village Chamber of Commerce, feels it is imperative for Second Federal to allow the expansion of its board and include more Latinos. “We have a very unique and beautiful opportunity for continued growth as a community,” Menchaca says. “This (MDI) designation is important for us right now.” Menchaca says continued discussions with Second Federal are progressing in the right direction and he’s confident a solution is in the works. The FDIC could make its ruling on whether to grant Second Federal MDI designation by late fall. Doyle says the bank’s bylaws will need to be revised to expand the board. Any revisions would have to be reviewed during the bank’s annual meeting in December. Doyle, who is also a member of the board, hopes the rest of the board will realize the importance of obtaining MDI designation, and that it will only happen if the board expands to include the very people Second Federal has come to serve. “I believe (MDI) will save us from the terrible economy that we’re in. We’re going to need capital,” Doyle says. “Having member(s) of the community representing this bank makes us an attractive investment for people here and even globally.” 21


A Tradition Lives On

Tequila Don Modesto proves that a bad economy is a good time to drink (organic) tequila, particularly one that does not outsource its labor words

Angélica Herrera

Don Modesto Toro’s modest distillery sat atop a hill in a small ranch of Tototlán del Oro, Jalisco, Mexico, nestled among 50,000 agave plants. From a distance, the 10-by-20-foot raicilla distillery looked more like a small, windowless cement house. Raicilla is a distilled spirit made from the roots of the mezcal plant – call it a homemade version of tequila. Inside the distillery, the crushed agave fermented for about three days in barrels, after which the agave juice was strained into a copper barrel outside to boil. Later, the liquid would be boiled, its vapors traveling up into a copper cone-shaped contraption attached to the diameter of the barrel. Hoses attached to the cone forced the steam to travel into a stainless steel container, where it collected.  When it settled, it would be the raicilla that Don Modesto’s grandchildren drank in ponches at Christmastime.  Don Modesto died two years ago. But his technique and attention to high-quality spirit production live on in the newest organic tequila on the market, Tequila Don Modesto.   Earlier this year, Don Modesto’s grandson, Francisco Toro, and Toro’s Puerto Rican brother-in-law, Carmelo Ayala, both from Chicago, saw the dwindling economy as an opportuniDon Modesto ty to follow in Don Modesto’s spiritmaking footsteps. A bad economy, they explained, is a good time to drink.   Made from the finest agave plants in Amatitán, Jalisco, the organic tequila takes the old rancher’s love for producing quality spirits and bottles it up. With a November 2009 launch date, Tequila Don Modesto is produced in Amatitán by Modesto Spirits Inc., based in Oakbrook Terrace.    “When we talk about a tequila being organic, we mean the tequila is grown by hand with no help from machinery; the production is on a smaller, more personal scale,” says Ayala, Modesto Spirits Inc. CEO and president. “Also, the tequila itself is fermented and distilled very differently from other tequilas.”  According to Ayala, the two things that mark the tequila as organic is a seal from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that certifies the tequila is organically grown and produced — and the lack of chemicals and accelerators. He quickly adds


that the creation of organic tequila is difficult for larger, nonorganic distilleries because so many extra steps are involved, making it less cost-efficient for them. (See sidebar.) “Which is why [non-organic distilleries] end up with a more aerated product that releases more ethyl gases [the stuff that makes your insides burn when alcohol is consumed],” Ayala says. “The time it takes to make our tequila is a several-hundred-hour difference that you can taste.”  Coming up with a name for the tequila was a no-brainer. “We wanted to pay tribute to Frank’s grandfather, who was a spirit expert in his own right, so we named the tequila after him,” Ayala says. “Don Modesto’s story is actually real — unlike the fabrications [created by] other Mexican spirits in Jalisco.”   Keeping the old patrón in mind, outsourcing any aspect of production — even the glass bottle — is out of the question. Ayala acknowledges that although it’s a business, there’s a lot more to tequila-making than turning a profit.  “People come to the distillery looking for work,” Toro says. “They like the fact that we’re there because [they say] we’re helping create and maintain jobs in Mexico — and because we’re authentic.” Not only are the smooth taste and attention to production remarkable, so is the packaging. A lush agave plant is sandblasted in the middle of the smooth, thick glass bottle made in Tonalá, Jalisco, from recycled glass. Etched on its slender neck is the Modesto family fierro, or branding iron, that Don Modesto used on his cows. Using lead-free paint, the type is hand-painted.  The contents inside the simple bottle is what Ayala refers to as “a combination of American and Mexican palettes that makes up a good, excellent tequila,” which he hopes people will want to consume in more ways than just medidas, or shots.  Recently, tequileros have begun a movement to push tequila consumption to a level likened with wine tasting. That would involve tequila-specific glasses replacing shot glasses to swirl, smell and taste the tequila.  “Tequila will always be a party drink,” Ayala says “But this is tequila you can enjoy at an elevated level — and not just as something you drink to get wasted.”  Tequila Don Modesto, Ayala adds, is a spirit that people can feel good about buying at a club or enjoy with family.  Undoubtedly, celebrating life — even after the death of a much-loved patriarch — is important to this close-knit family. So, it’s no surprise that toasting with Tequila Don Modesto has become a new family tradition.


ORGANIC VS. NON-ORGANIC Organic tequila is produced without the use of chemicals, conventional pesticides, fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge. Bioengineering or ionizing radiation is used during the farming and distillation process. Organic agave farmers and distillers maintain an Organic System Plan that describes practices and substances used in production: Growing: Using renewable resources, an organic agave plant grows anywhere between eight to 10 years. During this time, water and soil are conserved to enhance their environmental quality. Sugar content tests determine if the plant is ready for harvesting. Harvesting: The agave is cut using a coa, a cylindrical blade that sits on the tip of a wooden pole. The jimador uses it to remove the pencas, or the leaves, of the mature plant. The remaining piña, or head, is cut in half before being transported to the distillery for cooking. Cooking: In order to convert the agave’s natural carbohydrates and starches into fermentable sugars, the piñas are cooked for 50 to 72 hours, after which they are cooled for 24 to 36 hours. They are then crushed to separate the bagazo, or pulp, from the juice. Distilled water approved by the Consejo Regulador de Tequila is added to the juices. Fermentation: The agave juice mixed with distilled water is stored in large uncovered steel tanks to allow yeast to grow. After two to five days, the natural sugars from the agave convert into alcohol. Distillation: The first distillation begins when the fermented liquid is boiled for two to five hours in an enclosed steel

tank at 195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit. The second distillation takes three to four hours at 212 degrees Fahrenheit. When complete, 55 percent alcohol is produced. Aging: Blanco tequila is aged for about one month in old oak barrels, Reposado is aged for 7 months, and Añejo is aged for roughly 14 months. Final Steps: Before a product can be labeled organic, a Mexican government-certified inspector visits the farm and distillery to make sure they follow all the steps necessary to meet U.S. Department of Agriculture organic standards. SOURCE: Modesto Spirits Inc. CEO and president Carmelo Ayala 23


Hip-hop trio Rebel Diaz seeks inspiration on the streets of Chicago and in their own experiences


Christina E. Rodríguez photos Abel Arciniega

Teresita “Lah Tere” Ayala, Gonzalo “G1” Venegas and brother Rodrigo “RodStarz” Venegas, performing last month at Martyrs on Chicago’s North Side, consider themselves street journalists who sing about the issues facing inner city neighborhoods and the world.




Spain, Germany, the Netherlands, Guatemala. Rebel Diaz has been all over the world, spreading its word, its truth, through hip-hop and grassroots activism. Taking their name from the Spanish word rebeldes, Chilean-American brothers Rodrigo “RodStarz” Venegas and Gonzalo “G1” Venegas, with their Puerto Rican “sister” Teresita “Lah Tere” Ayala, emerged from Chicago’s streets to hit New York’s hip-hop activist scene, “spittin’” truth and “layin’” beats that tell stories of their roots, as well as stories of those who go unnoticed all over the world. Writing lyrics that explore the socio-political situation in Latin America, the immigration debate and police brutality in this country, the members of Rebel Diaz say their youth in Chicago and their experiences inspired their music. “We grew up in a time when the Chicago hip-hop scene was growing ... Just immersing ourselves in the culture; doing graffiti, b-boying,” Rodrigo explained. “The fact that we grew up in Chicago, the majority of our influences musically and culturally are the foundation of what Rebel Diaz is … and politically, too.” The sons of Chilean exiles and human rights activists, Rodrigo and Gonzalo grew up in Rogers Park on Chicago’s North Side. “I remember growing up and going to political meetings supporting Puerto Rican independence that was also supported by the Palestinian community, by the salvadoreños, guatemaltecos, who also had liberation struggles going during that time,” said Rodrigo. Their father, Mario Venegas, was a member of the Chilean leftist party known as the Movimiento de Izquierda Revolucionaria as a student. When Salvador Allende was overthrown on Sept. 11, 1973 and replaced by Gen. Augusto Pinochet, things changed drastically. As a chemistry teacher at the Universidad Católica de Chile, Mario was accused of plotting against the government, teaching students how to build bombs. “So for them, I was a very dangerous person,” said Mario. “I was kept in confinement for two years and a couple of months.” At 25 years old, he was also tortured and witnessed his peers being tortured. 


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“It was very hard, but I learned a lot,” said Mario. “I continue in the struggle because I am a survivor.” “We’re second-generation activists, fighting for social justice,” said Rodrigo. “That military dictatorship lasted for 17 years, until 1989, but the whole history of Latin America is important to … what fuels our work. That’s our history.” Teresita was raised in the Logan Square and Humboldt Park neighborhoods. As a young activist, she knew the importance of her voice. “I was involved in ASPIRA and community organizations, which were political, teaching us about our culture [as] a form of resistance. I’m confident in being a strong Latina, Puerto Rican, and not being afraid to be vocal about it because this community’s pretty loud.” Teresita met Rodrigo at the University of Illinois in UrbanaChampaign. The two found an instant connection and eventually worked together at La Casa, the Latino cultural center on campus. While there, they began The Blue Room, a place where Latinos and blacks alike could use poetry and spoken word to express themselves. Rodrigo was an emcee and invited Teresita to work and sing with him. Gonzalo found himself in a different situation. After dropping out of high school, he returned to Chile. “It was kind of a reverse exile for me, to go back to where my parents were forced to leave,” he says. There, he learned to make and produce music, eventually earning a scholarship to New York University. “I was there for a year before Rod joined me,” he explained. “The first year I was there, I was engaged (in) the school thing, and once Rod got there we started making music together.’’ Rodrigo took up Gonzalo’s suggestion to move to New York City. Teresita was in New Jersey working as a nanny, teaching Puerto Rican history and Bible study. “Then, we spent a faithful holiday with Tere in 2004,” said Gonzalo. “She was living in Jersey at the time and she stopped by and we spent the holiday together and we made some music.” After that, they persuaded her to move to New York. Rodrigo found her work as an education organizer at Mothers on the Move. While working in the South Bronx at Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice, the three became immersed in their music, which eventually turned into their full-time job in 2006, leading to the opening of the Rebel Diaz Arts Collective in the South Bronx. Rebel Diaz’s lyrics branch heavily from their everyday life. “We grew up in the solidarity movements of the ‘80s and ‘90s in Chicago that also produced the first black mayor, Harold Washington, and (Latino community organizer) Rudy Lozano,” explains Rodrigo. “That’s one part, that’s the influence. And two is our reality, growing up in Chicago as Latino men and as a Latina, or even the experience of going to college and being one Latino student in a classroom of 500.”

Three by Rebel Diaz “Ten cuidado con Lah Tere, my pistola go clap en inglés it’s a gun, they say we holdin a strap Humboldt Park mi territorio estaba en candela como un niño de Iraq yo crecí con guerra Latin Kings con los Folks y los Folks con los Cobras la pistola go boom, la pistola es la que cobra” — From “Pistol Clap” “Since I was born the world has been war torn So you know I gotta try and get my people on Look at their economy, that they have imposed Sweatshop labor for name brand clothes Free trade agreement, the factories closed South of the border that is where they go” — From “Que está pasando” “I rock hard like Palestinian children holdin slingshots!!! I’m with every single kid that’s down for hip hop For the culture the life what it really stands for This music is resistance it’s the voice of the poor I’m on the side of the workers, the teachers and lunchladies, on the streets with brown mommys raisin our brown babies, I’m with youth organizers cleanin’ up the Bronx River” — From “Which Side Are You On?”

Rebel Diaz wants to make people aware of injustices. “[We like] being street journalists, not just from the outside,” Teresita says. “I’m not a privileged kid, it’s not my reality. I know what it’s like to drop off a parent at a Narcotics Anonymous center; I know what it’s like to have your lights cut off. That’s my reality.” “You leave the neighborhood because you’re afraid you’re going to be nobody just like everybody else and you get caught up in that,” she says. “But we’re really preaching to come back to the ‘hood after that, to create cultural centers and artists’ collectives and any type of space that could give everybody else the resources.” “We’ve already been documenting through music, but we’re also doing video and multimedia [...] to connect multiple struggles,” added Gonzalo. They want to share their experiences with citizens around the world, at least those willing to listen to what their hip-hop has to say. “Hip-hop is the soundtrack to ‘hoods all over the world. Wherever you find poverty, you’re going to find hip-hop,” says Rodrigo. “And we’re just trying to come at it from an urban perspective.” 25


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Saving Bonds

Feeling the economic pinch this holiday season? Enjoy these cost—effective ways to celebrate with the ones you love


Eddie Diaz welcomes holiday guests with a glass of champagne and an opportunity to bid on auction gift items. words

Marla Seidell photo Denise Stanley

At a time when décor budgets are tight and the economy is teetering tentatively towards recovery, the holiday season offers an opportunity to express the spirit of joy in a simpler fashion. Welcome to a resourceful holiday season. Gone are the fancy floral designs and expensive crystal. They are now replaced by a cost-effective use of materials. From decorations to gift giving, the holiday is becoming associated with the environment and personal connection. “It’s a new time,” says Bridget Johnson, creative director of event décor company Kehoe Designs. In a robust economy (or even just last year), Johnson typically finds October, November and December to be the busiest time of the year, when clients request all the 27


trimmings for their corporate events. However, business is changing this year due to the recession, and clients are taking a more conscientious approach to their holiday parties. “Times are tough,” says Johnson. “And people don’t want to be wasteful anymore in terms of time and products.” Not being wasteful means decorating with household — or inexpensive — items that are bright, colorful and personal rather than lavish. It means combining potluck favorites with signature dishes catered from a restaurant, and having a Christmas tree that can be recycled. “Throwing a party means so much more now,” says Johnson. For Johnson’s next event, a holiday auction for Chicago’s Black Box Acting Studio, the emphasis lies more in the experience than the elaborate décor. “It’s about where our life is — not about material things, but spending your time in conversation, having memorable experiences,” says Johnson. Guests at the event are requested to purchase a gift that will be auctioned during the party, with proceeds being donated to the Acting Studio. The auction is the brainchild of host Eddie Diaz, a New York transplant and aspiring actor who moved to Chicago last November to live with his boyfriend. The party will be held at the couple’s threebedroom condo in the Gold Coast.   The party’s décor scheme leans towards using everyday objects in resourceful ways. In place of expensive fabric runners on the tabletop, personal objects of the host, such as books, will be covered in recycled paper and used as risers. “The idea is to use what you already have or collect,” Johnson explains. And in place of large floral arrangements, decanters filled with bright colors such as fuchsia, citron greens and pinks are used to enliven the atmosphere. “It’s a challenge being cost-effective, but well worth it,” notes Johnson. For food, potluck dishes along with empanadas from newly opened Colombian restaurant Macondo will be served buffet style. Glass cubes filled with roses will be given to guests to take home. At least five of the wrapped auction gifts will be on display on the table as part of the décor. In short, everything is geared towards a deeper meaning. “The art of luxury as we know it is changing, because we’re getting back to that craftsmanship and element of time design,” observes Johnson.  And in place of a meaningless grab bag, the gift auction allows guests the opportunity to donate money to an organization — Chicago’s Black Box Acting Studio, where Diaz is studying. “It’s better than writing a check and it gets people in the spirit of giving with the common denominator of a cause,” Diaz says.   A GREAT BONDING ACTIVITY Hailing from a big Colombian family, Diaz has turned gift auctions into a Christmas family tradition. For the past three years, instead of exchanging gifts after their holiday meal on Christmas Eve, the Diaz family has bid on undisclosed gifts, donating the proceeds to a charity or cause. Last year the family’s auction brought in $850 for Feline Rescue, an animal welfare group; the year before, they raised $1,200 for a family in need associated with their church.   Aside from the do-good aspect, the auction is great for bonding. Thirteen nieces and nephews — who stopped appreciating toys when they grew into teenagers and young adults — made buying gifts more a


Casual, catered finger food served buffet style. LOWER FRONT: Colombian delights of Buñuelos, Pan de Yuca, Almojábana, Yuca wedges and Arepas. TRAYS: Empanadas. CENTER OF TABLE: Dipping sauces: Ají Casero, Salsa Rosada, and Ají de Aguacate. Food courtesy of Macondo, 2965 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago.

Getting Personal It’s a great way of giving without having to buy gifts [for everyone], and ultimately you know that you are giving to the people who need it

chore than a pleasure in recent years, and the family simply stopped giftgiving entirely. “We thought it was too much, too expensive, but then the whole spirit was taken out of the holidays,” Diaz explains. Yet with the auction, spearheaded by Diaz — who got the idea from the fundraising parties he regularly attends — the spirit of holiday giving was restored. Keeping the kids in mind, gifts range from a $5 gift card, all the way up to a pair of $300 tickets to see “Billy Elliot.” And with the bidding, things get competitive and entertaining. “It has become so much fun for the family,” says Diaz. Because the family doesn’t know exactly what they are bidding on,


Table themed in giving and re-purposed décor. Cube shaped vases in green ribbons double as decorations and as guests’ thank you gifts. Wine decanters filled with neon food coloring, topped off with ornaments and colored tissue paper covered books help to create a beautiful center piece.

gifts can be an unexpected surprise. Last year Diaz’s 16-year-old niece bid $20 on what she thought was a pair of socks. Turns out she got a $200 pair of Ugg boots. The beauty of the auction is that everyone benefits. “It’s a great way of giving without having to buy gifts [for everyone], and ultimately you know that you are giving to the people who need it,” Diaz says. The family gets to support a cause that someone in the family feels passionately about. Feline Rescue was a pet project of Diaz’s niece, for instance. “In my family, we all support each other and we care about what the other person is doing,” says Diaz.  Now Diaz is bringing the Latino traditions of family and passion to his new Chicago family — friends and associates at the Black Box Actors Studio. Gift purchases for the Black Box auction holiday party start at $20. “There is no pressure for anyone to spend a lot of money,” notes Diaz. Diaz will also auction four plaques of colorful peace signs created by child artists. He recently purchased those plaques at Barney’s. Proceeds from the sale of the plaques, which cost $100 each, were donated to Solomon Elementary School in Chicago. Bids will start at $20 a plaque. The new value is in the quality and the realistic pricing, says Johnson, as well as about the story behind the craftsmanship and the time put into the work.  Says Johnson: “We’re going back to what we [feel we have] lost – tradition, authenticity — without the bells and whistles.” 29


Eat, Drink and Be Sharing Want to host the perfect holiday dinner party? Here’s a hint: Get your friends and family involved in the feast words

Chris Chávez Weitman photos alBerto Treviño

It’s the holidays and you’re short on cash and long on friends. You’d love to have everyone over for dinner, but you don’t really want to cook. And having it catered, well, there’s that money problem again. 30 Café NOVEMBER | DECEMBER2009

congusto You’d like to do something with a little panache for a change. Don’t despair — there’s an easy solution believe it or not, it’s actually hip: the potluck dinner. STOP! Do not turn the page (and don’t laugh… we’re serious).  The potluck dinner is not only wallet-friendly, but with a little planning and imagination, this type of gathering doesn’t have to be all rice and potato salads. You can actually make this an elegant affair and the kind of party that’s the envy of your friends. The key is to make the potluck a competition among your friends, to get them to try to outdo each other with their dishes. Now who’s stressed?

But you need to be organized. First, figure out which courses you want to serve, such as appetizers, salads, vegetables and desserts. Because this is a holiday party, consider foods appropriate for the occasion like different types of breads, cheeses, nuts, olives or sausages. Impress upon your guests that this is an elegant affair and that you want them to get creative with what they bring.

The key to a successful potluck is to make it a competition among friends. For additional ideas, visit

The host usually prepares the main course, like ham or turkey. If you are having a really large party, you may want to ask someone to help out and bring a main dish that is easy to transport and reheat, like a glazed ham.  Shellfish is always popular during the holidways. Consider making a seafood paella or having a platter of large shrimp, stone crabs or the smaller Jonah and rock crabs. Remove the shells to save you and your guests from obvious hassles. Now comes the fun part — you get to play dictator. Tell your guests which course you want them to bring. Do not ask them what they want to contribute. If you open the floor for discussion, you will be negotiating right up until you pull the lechón out of the oven.   Give them specific direction like “a festive green salad” or “a creamy potato side dish” to prevent too much of one course and not enough of another. If the guest list is really long, ask several people to bring the same course (not the same dish). Let your guests know how many people are expected so there is enough for everyone to sample each dish. And make sure everyone knows if there are certain food restrictions or allergies they should know of. Ask that the dish be prepared in advance with minimal time for reheating because you won’t have much oven or stove-top space. Desserts should be kept simple but elegant. A variety of chocolates or chocolate-dipped fruits are great. Ice cream and flaming desserts are not. Guests who are traveling long distances or don’t cook should provide soft drinks and ice. Be specific about this as well, including soda, juices and sparkling water. Tell your guests to bring what they plan to drink.

ALTERNATIVE TO WINE Add more sparkle to your holiday potluck party by serving cava, Spanish sparkling wine made using the same method that is used to produce French champagne. Three of the most popular brands of cava in the United States are Codorníu, Freixenet and Segura Viudas, all of which are much less expensive than champagne or California sparkling wine. Chill the cava overnight. It should be served very cold in a chilled fluted champagne glass. The Spanish generally serve cava after dinner paired with dessert. But why not kick off your party with a toast and a glass of well chilled Extra Brut cava?

THE Countdown BEGINS

A few weeks before the party: Decide where you want your guests to eat. Have enough chairs and tables for your guests if necessary.

If you are using chafing dishes, buy sterno or canned heat. Most people will bring their food in their own dish ready to serve, but others may want to transfer their item to a chafing dish to keep it hot. If you’re short on serving space, an ironing board with a long tablecloth can help you accommodate more items. A few days before the party: Contact your guests to find out how they’ve chosen to fulfill their assignment and whether they will need oven, stovetop or microwave space to reheat their dish. This also allows you to reconfirm who is coming and remind them to bring their assigned course.

Ask your guests if they plan to bring someone with them to the party. Ask the new guest to bring wine or whatever you still need for the party. Create decorative place cards you can use to identify each dish and its creator.  If something is very spicy or contains nuts, make a note on the card. Roll sets of table utensils in napkins and place in a decorative basket. The day of the party: Clear an area in the refrigerator to hold cold dishes until ready to serve. Set up the buffet. Position the plates where you want the line to start, and the cutlery and napkins at the end. Set out chafing dishes on the buffet. Place the dish name cards on the buffet where you want the guests to put their contribution. Have trivets and serving utensils for each dish ready for action. Place ice in buckets or bowls with tongs or spoons. Keep in the freezer until needed. Set up the drinks table away from the buffet table. This will keep the buffet line moving.   As the party begins: Turn on the oven to reheat food. Start the music. Slice the turkey, roast or ham. Finally, enjoy yourself! 31

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Crowded kitchens filled with family, laughter and love. Music playing loudly — holiday tunes on the radio. Tamales on the stove. Sound familiar? Welcome to a Latino tradition… tamales at Christmas.

Tamales, a Holiday Gift FOR the Gods Time consuming you say? It did seem to take forever, didn’t it? And yet the time flew by. Making tamales can be time consuming if you insist on using Abuelita’s recipe. But you can save time without sacrificing flavor with Jewel-Osco. Ask anyone who has eaten really delicious homemade tamales to describe the experience — the light, fluffy corn meal, surrounding tender, delicately seasoned meat or vegetables is truly a gift from the gods. That’s exactly what tamales were in pre-Hispanic times when they were offered up to the deities during Mayan celebrations. Coincidentally, one of these celebrations occurred at about the same time as the Spanish conquerors’ All Saints Day, which is how throughout Latin

America tamales became the featured attraction on special occasions. The popularity of tamales extends from the Rio Grande to Tierra del Fuego, with endless variations of the recipe found in between. Most tamales are made with corn meal. The wrapping and the filling is what sets them apart from country to country. Mexican and Cuban tamales are wrapped in corn husks, while Central and South American tamales are wrapped in banana, plantain or canna leaves. You can fill a tamale with whatever you want. Traditional fillings include meat, chiles, vegetables, fresh and dried fruit, cheese, nuts, mole and even chocolate. A lot of variety, a lot of traditions.

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Green Chile Chicken Tamales

Host a Tamale Preparation Party Tamales are fiesta food because the very process of preparing them usually creates a party atmosphere. Before your guests arrive though, you’ll need to do some of the prep. That’s where Jewel-Osco can help — you’ll find whatever is on your list with one stop shopping just around the corner at your neighborhood store. A week before the party, make a list of everything you will need for the tamales. Besides the basic recipe ingredients, make sure you have a pot big enough to cook the tamales. and everything your guests will need to assemble the tamales. Sturdy paper plates, paper towels, plastic forks and spoons will make clean up easier. You may also want to have some chips and salsa to snack on while you work! First, prepare the masa. You can make it ahead and refrigerate it a few days before your "Tamalapalooza" or freeze it for up to two weeks. Try to make the filling a few days in advance to save you time on the day of the preparation party. Some cooks like to make the filling in advance of the tamale assembly because it gives the meat and seasonings time to marinate, allowing the flavors to develop. You can also make a quick and easy tamale filling by combining Jewel-Osco Rotisserie Chicken and your favorite salsa (see recipe). A few hours before the assembling the tamales, soften the corn husks so that they are nice and pliable. Place the corn husks in a pot deep enough to have them completely submerged (see recipe for details). When it is tamale preparation party time, give each of your guests a few paper plates, forks and spoons. Place the masa, filling mixture, corn husks and ties in four separate bowls in the center of the table. On a plate, have each guest lay out a husk, spread the masa, fill and tie. Put out some snacks, play somefestive tunes and let the joy of the making and sharing a traditional favorite kick-off your holiday season! Your Jewel-Osco "Tamalapalooza" Party Check List √ Tamale Ingredients (See Recipe) √ Large steam or stock pot with tight fitting lid √ Sturdy paper plates √ Paper towels, plastic forks, and spoons (for easy clean-up) √ Snacks for guests, like chips and salsa √ Coloring books and crayons to keep the kids busy √ Camera or film to capture the memories

MAKES 16 TAMALES 1 package (5 oz.) Palenque Corn Husks 2 cups Maseca Instant Corn Masa Mix for Tamales ½ tsp. Morton Salt 2 cups Knorr Chicken Broth ⅔ cup Armour Lard or Crisco Vegetable Shortening 1 tsp. baking powder 3 cups ready to eat Jewel-Osco Rotisserie Chicken, shredded 1½ cups La Victoria Salsa Verde Thick n’ Chunky

Place the corn husks in a large stock pot with enough water to cover completely. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let stand with husks covered in water. Blend corn masa and salt in a large bowl. Slowly add the chicken broth while mixing with a fork to form wet, but not runny, dough. Set aside. Mix the lard or shortening and baking powder with an electric mixer on medium high speed for 1 minute until light and fluffy. Beat at medium speed while slowly adding the blended corn masa mix, about 3 minutes. The mixture should be light and spongy. The batter is ready when a ½ teaspoon of the dough will float in cup of cold water. Refrigerate. Mix the shredded chicken and green salsa together in large bowl. Set aside. Drain the corn husks. Tear 16 ¼-inch strips suitable for tying up the tamales. Spread out a corn husks with the pointed end towards you. Spread 3 tablespoons of masa in a square on the corn husk, leaving a 1-inch border on the sides. Place 2 tablespoons chicken mixture down the center. Pick up the two sides and fold in one direction. Fold up the pointed tip and secure with one of the corn husk strips. Fill steamer with 2-3 inches of water. Cover the steamer basket with a layer of corn husks. Place the tamales upright in the steamer. Bring to a boil; place more corn husks on top and cover with a tight fitting lid. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 1 ½ hours. Refill steamer periodically with water so tamales don’t burn. Tip: put a coin in the bottom of the pot so you can hear it rattling when the water is boiling. Tamales are ready when the masa doesn't stick to corn husk when unrolled. Let tamales rest and firm up 10 minutes before serving. ¡Buen provecho!


Fostering Hope More Latino families are urged to open their hearts and homes to foster children in need Darhiana Mateo Stacey Freudenberg words


Twenty-eight year old Miriam Martinez of Chicago has opened her home to four foster children of different races. Miriam Martinez describes the year she waited to welcome her first foster child — a sweet, shy Puerto Rican girl – to her home in the Austin neighborhood of Chicago as the “longest year of her life.” Four years ago, the then-28-year-old teacher’s assistant felt an unshakeable longing to be a parent. Soon after, that fire was fueled when she stumbled across a commercial about foster parenting from UCAN, the social service agency through which she would eventually take in four foster children. “I was excited to be a mother,” Martinez says, lingering over the last word. “To provide for someone less fortunate.” Before making that life-changing decision, the half-Dominican, half-Puerto Rican woman did what many other Latinas would do: She asked for her family’s bendición. “I asked my mom, my sister. Made sure it would be OK. I knew I would not be able to do it myself. I needed a support system.” A year of preparation (background check, parenting classes, home inspection) and praying finally paid off in June 2005, when the 13-year-old girl walked into her home. Martinez was thrilled, envisioning movie nights and trips to McDonald’s. The girl was terrified. But with some patience and attention, the two soon bonded. “She was very quiet when she first got here. Once I showed


her this was her home, she opened up to be a normal teenager. She finally got over that uneasy feeling and felt: ‘OK, this is my home. I can relax,’” Martinez says. “These kids really just want to be treated normally. They want to have a home … nothing extravagant. And the rewards are endless. The hugs, the smiles, the ‘I love yous.’” As the Latino population continues to grow, more Latino children are entering the foster care system without enough Latino households in which to place them. Mayra Burgos-Biott is a foster home-licensing supervisor for Cook County’s central region, which includes the predominantly Hispanic neighborhoods of Humboldt Park, Logan Square, South Lawndale, Little Village and Pilsen. Recently, the state Department of Children and Families Services has intensified efforts to reach out to Latinos, she says. “We find ourselves struggling to find a home for Latino children,” Burgos-Biott says. “For the past nine to 10 months, we’ve been participating in different events in the [communities] to recruit Latino families because there is a great need for us to do so.” That common cultural background can play a crucial role in helping a foster child adjust to his or her new home, says Burgos-Biott. “It provides the child with a sense of belonging, places them in somewhat of a familiar territory. They might


share the same values, and being a Latino foster parent of a Latino child would provide some stability for the child to counteract the impact of separation from the [biological] family.” Burgos-Biott points out that Latinos are known for being family-oriented, and that definition of family often stretches beyond shared genes. “It’s not an issue of blood,” Burgos-Biott says. “It’s about compassion and the desire to make a positive contribution in the life of a child. We as a community tend to take care of our own – whether it’s blood-related or not. That’s always been part of our culture.”

• As of Sept. 30, 2006, there were an estimated 510,000 children in foster care nationwide. • Almost a quarter (24 percent) were in relatives’ homes, and nearly half (46 percent) were in non-relative foster family homes. • Almost half (49 percent) had a case goal of reunification with their families. • The number of Illinois children living in substitute care has decreased from 51,331 in Fiscal Year 1997 to 16,160 in June 2007, due in large part to increased emphasis on early intervention and permanency services such as adoption.

A SENSE OF STABILITY When trying to match the right child with the right foster parent, cultural sensitivity can make a world of difference, said Francisco Monzon, vice president of placement services for UCAN. His agency began 140 years ago as an orphanage and has evolved into a multifaceted social services agency, expanding to help neglected and abused youth, children and families. UCAN offers a professional foster-parenting program that helps place children from traumatic situations into safe and stable homes; it also has a residential treatment center, clinical and counseling services, and special services for teenagers. Hearing familiar nursery rhymes, celebrating Los Tres Reyes in addition to Christmas or seeing a favorite dish on the dinner table “makes that whole transition easier to deal with,” Monzon says. “It’s much easier to go into a home where food is similar to what they’ve had at home. They come from chaotic backgrounds. We feel it will give them some sense of stability, of safety, and it allows the children to open up and show their true colors.” More than 200 kids are in foster care through UCAN. On any given day, roughly 20 percent of those kids are Latino, says Monzon. This number has risen during the past several years, and will likely continue to rise. “We expect, with the economy the way it has been, to have more of an influx of [Latino] kids coming into the system,” he says. On a national scale, of the estimated 510,000 in foster care as of fiscal year 2006, 19 percent were classified as Hispanic, up 4 percentage points from fiscal year 2002, according to the latest report from the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System, which collects information on all children in foster care for whom state child welfare agencies have responsibility. While a shared cultural background is an important factor in placing a child in a foster home, it’s by no means a requirement. “More than anything, we look for someone willing to open up their home and treat them as part of the family,” says Monzon. He urges the Latino community to see these kids for what they are: “Not as damaged kids, not as kids who are trouble makers. Think of these kids as any other child you love and support. They just need a sense of belonging.” Since 2008, Burgos-Biott estimates that DCFS ­­— in conjunction with some private agencies — has placed more than 600 kids in foster homes throughout Chicago and surrounding

suburbs. The numbers flucMore info tuate on a daily basis. For more information about DCFS defines fosbecoming a foster parent in ter care as the temporary Illinois, visit DCFS at www. placement of children side their homes due to shtml and UCAN at www. abuse, neglect or dependency. The ultimate goal is to return the child to their biological family, something that individuals interested in becoming foster parents need to realize, Burgos-Biott says. “They need to understand children belong with their families, even though they may not be able to be with family at the time.” DCFS makes every effort to find a relative willing to take the child. In situations when this is not possible, placing the child in a stable foster home is the next best option. In some cases, fostering a child can lead to legal guardianship or adoption. In order to become a licensed foster parent, individuals need to meet certain requirements, including having adequate accommodations for the child in their home, undergoing a background check and participating in nine weeks of preparing to deal with the special needs of foster children. Parents must continue to undergo training in different areas of child development, first aid and CPR after becoming licensed. The process should take between 75 and 90 days. During this time,  a caseworker also assesses the family dynamics to determine the best match, says Burgos-Biott. Miriam Martinez has opened her home to four foster children – including the older sister of her first foster child, as well as an African-American and a Caucasian toddler. Although her daughters have confided “how comforting it was to finally see the Latino side,” race never mattered to Martinez.  Her family of various skin colors, life experiences and personalities works. And while they may occasionally draw curious glances from strangers during their frequent family outings to go bowling or roller skating, Martinez knows family is more than skin – or blood – deep. “We’re very unique. Very diverse. And I love it,” she says. “They might look so different [from one another], but they’re so family.”

Sources: Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System 35


Know Your Latinos are a high-risk group for type-2 diabetes. How do you fight back? Here are some crucial first steps

Alberto Morales was a healthy24-year-oldin1978.He had nothing to worry about, until one day he developed a rash on his back.

He went to the doctor, who couldn’t determine what was wrong. Several blood tests later, Morales found he had type 2 diabetes, that he had become insulinresistant (a condition linked to the rash) and that, in order to live with this disease, he needed to change his lifestyle. “They told me I had to go to classes to find out about the food I could eat. Basically, when it came down to it, they told me to stay away from sugar,” explained Morales, now 55. “But everything we eat turns into sugar later on anyway, so you can’t fight it. All you can do is [watch] how much you eat and what you eat.” After experimenting with different medications, the Chicago resident is now taking three pills — two to control his blood glucose levels and one for his cholesterol. “They’ve tried different types of medication because sometimes it’s too strong and I break out in something else, so they have to lower it. That’s all I’ve been on, pills,” he said. “Whether I take them all the time, that’s a different story.” Type 2 diabetes is associated with aging and is easier to expect as people get older, says Dr. Enrique Caballero, an endocrinologist at Joslin Diabetes Center, a research, care and education institution affiliated with Harvard Medical School. However, this disease transcends age. According to the National Diabetes Education Program, 10.4 percent of Latinos ages 20 or older have been diagnosed with diabetes.


“It’s a shock when you’re in your 30s and 40s. It’s difficult to accept at any age,” he said. “Many people have it but don’t know it.” According to the Joslin Diabetes Center, 10 percent of all Latinos have type 2 diabetes, yet one-third of them have gone undiagnosed. Sometimes it takes five to 10 years to see symptoms of the disease. The American Diabetes Association defines diabetes as a “disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin.” Dr. Caballero explains the function of sugar and insulin in the body as a lock-and-key relationship. In the human body, cells need sugar to survive and work properly. Insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, plays the role of the key that the sugar needs to open the lock and enter the cells. Insulin allows our bodies to use that sugar properly, giving us energy. When the insulin is no longer produced (as in type 1 diabetes, also known as insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus) or does not work properly within our cells (as in type 2), sugar collects in the body and is released through our urine. Because of this the kidneys are strained, which may lead to a decrease in kidney function and endstage renal disease, according to, a Web site aimed at diabetics. This can end up being lifethreatening with the only treatment options being regular dialysis or a kidney transplant. People with type 2 diabetes do not produce enough insulin or are insulin-resistant, meaning that insulin does bind to the cells, but is not used properly to convert sugar, starches and other foods into energy. According to, type 2 diabetes has a strong hereditary component. Morales is one of nine children, seven of whom are diabetic, as were his parents. His mother — like one of his brothers — lost her eyesight and ended up going on dialysis. “She [took] medication for years,” Morales said. “Eventually, it just took her.”


Enemy words

Christina E. Rodríguez


Jillian Sipkins


Extensive clinical research has found that type 2 diabetes affects Latinos, African-Americans and Native Americans more than it does non-Hispanic whites, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Latinos are particularly at risk because they tend to eat a diet high in carbohydrates and fats and do minimal amounts of exercise. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 45 percent of Latino adults engage in at least some leisure-time physical activity, compared to 49.3 percent of blacks and 65.7 percent of whites. Dr. Caballero blamed those tendencies on “a combination of genetics and lifestyle factors.” There are many consequences to not taking diabetes seriously. For example, cardiovascular disease is the No. 1 cause of death among diabetics. Other diabetes complications can include blindness and amputations. Morales is losing his sight rapidly because of the complications that came with not taking his medication. He has glaucoma in both eyes, which forced him to leave his job as a production manager in October 2008. “Right now, I can’t see anyone unless they’re really up close. I never thought that would happen,” he said thoughtfully. “They told me that I had to take care of myself and that the first thing to go would be my feet. And you don’t think about it, they tell you about it but it doesn’t sink in until something really happens, and for me it wasn’t my feet, it was my eyes.” But, as Dr. Caballero points out, “This doesn’t need to happen if you take care of your blood sugar.” Checking your blood sugar before meals is important to know how insulin is reacting within the body. Type 2 diabetics usually are put on prescription insulin pills that need to be taken

Wendy Melgar

daily. These control blood glucose levels by allowing sugar to enter the cells as it would normally do. If medication is not taken as prescribed, blood sugar levels go up (a condition called hyperglycemia) and can affect all other organs, causing longterm complications. Diabetics who take their illness seriously and learn to live with the disease can live healthy lives. “Diabetes is a disease that can be controlled, as opposed to other diseases where there is little to do. It requires will power to change your lifestyle, but it is worthwhile,” Dr. Caballero said. “It’s a great investment because the quality of life will be better. Diabetes is not a limit anymore.” Four steps to a long and healthy life Step 1: Learn About Diabetes Diabetes means that your blood glucose (blood sugar) is too high. Educate yourself about the two main types of diabetes. Step 2: Know Your ABCs Talk to your health care team about how to manage your ABCs: A1C (blood glucose or sugar), blood pressure and cholesterol. This will help lower your chances of having a heart attack, stroke, blindness or other diabetesrelated problems. Step 3: Manage Your Diabetes Many people avoid the long-term problems of diabetes by taking care of themselves. Work with your health care team to reach your ABC goals. Step 4: Get Routine Care See your health care team at least twice a year to find and treat any problems early. Ask what steps you can take to reach your goals. Source: National Diabetes Education Program ( 37

Sneak Peek at the Next Issue ... QUINCEAÑERA DREAMS

Planning a quinceañera can be as difficult as planning a wedding. So much can go wrong. It’s all in the details. One family opens the doors to Café and lets us be witness to the chaos and joys of a quinceañera celebration.


Black Latinos are caught between two cultural worlds, especially those born in Latin American countries. As such, they often feel self-pressure to choose a cultural group to belong to. And what about those Latino(a)s married to African-Americans? Who do their offspring identify with? SPICE BOY

He slices, he dices, he spices your life with love, sweet love... or at least an unforgettable dish. Meet Paul Zavala, a young, dynamic chef who started his career slanging arrachera in his uncle’s restaurant and at 19 became the Executive Sous Chef at Frango’s. Now, he has developed his own spice. Its name? You gotta read the article to find out. LOOKING FOR MR. OR MS. RIGHT

You’ve most probably seen those TV ads for online dating services and you most probably wonder: do they really work? Latinos who have used these services share with us their successes and, in some cases, horror stories.



Victims of life on

the down-low Heterosexual Latinas contracting HIV from male partners who lead secret lives words

Randi Belisomo Hernández photos Stacey Freudenberg and alBerto Treviño

[ The last names of the subjects have been omitted to protect their identities. ]

Maria knew there was something wrong when she came down with a fever and the diarrhea just wouldn’t disappear. Doctors doled out pills to soothe her symptoms. But what turned out to be the truth for the married mother of two had never occurred to her. 39

caféGrande | Coverstory


aria had HIV, but it was not to be diagnosed until she was pregnant with her third child. That’s when blood tests revealed the awful reality. Maria, a woman who had had sexual relations only with her husband, had a sexually transmitted disease. “I’m not angry,” the 30-year-old suburban divorcee says now, “but I ask, ‘Why did he do that to me?’” And, what “he” did isn’t so uncommon. Listen up, Latinas: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports you’re five times more likely to contract the HIV virus than any white woman, and that rate is likely to spike higher with each passing year. Juana too is representative of those statistics: one of the more than 125,000 women living with HIV in the U.S., and one of the almost 70 percent of infected Latinas who have contracted the virus due to heterosexual contact. “I was really, really confused because I knew my husband got sick, but he never told me about his illness,” the 50-year-old mother says with a sigh, recalling a time more than seven years ago when she couldn’t understand why her husband’s health kept failing. One day, he went to church alone and she searched his jacket pockets in their closet at home. It was there she found the anti-viral medications he had been hiding. “My God, what is happening here?” she remembers praying, before calling her best friend. That friend instructed her to get tested immediately — though Juana didn’t know why. “He’s my only man,” Juana said she thought at the time, but she went to the doctor anyway. The results: the worst. “I told God, ‘I’m really, really sad for this situation,’” Juana recalls. “Not about the HIV, because we don’t choose our disease, but for my husband.” She asked God to help her forgive him, and with an open heart Juana did just that. Unlike Maria, Juana remains married to her husband — the carrier and transmitter of the disease that may eventually kill them both. Women have several courses of action once they contract HIV. But their failure to assert themselves and take action could have helped them fend off the disease. When it comes to sexual relationships with men in the Latino community, Juana Ballesteros of the Greater Humboldt Park Community of Wellness says, “Women feel like they can’t have their man wear a condom or question who they’ve been with.” Such was the case with both Maria and Juana. Maria was living in Zacatecas, Mexico, during the early years of her marriage, while her husband was working in the U.S. She suspected infidelity — though she does not know of what sort and to what extent — and asked her husband to wear a condom when they were together. “He didn’t want to use them,” she says, regretful that she couldn’t take a tougher stance. As for Juana, she says she never felt a need to make such a request. But now she acknowledges, “We don’t know what happens on the streets with our husbands.”And what happens on those streets can be scarier than these women could have ever imagined.



“Bisexuality among the Mexican community is huge,” says Carlos Chavez, the HIV program director of Latino services at the Renz Addiction Center in Elgin. Because of the secretive nature of such sexual activity, there are no statistics that could support such a claim, Chavez says, but anecdotally at the Renz Center, such allegations are accepted as fact. “There is a joke that goes, ‘What’s the difference between a Mexican man and a gay man?’” Chavez says with a laugh. “A six pack of beer.” Chavez says many married Mexican men while under the influence of alcohol enter a subculture of same-sex encounters in which they insist on playing the dominant role with a homosexual man. “Their mentality is, ‘OK, I’m going to play the male role and teach the little gay guy what a real man is,’” Chavez explains. Many of those engaging in such bisexual practices often have wives at home, unaware of what’s happening when their men leave the house. Julio Maldonado of Chicago’s Howard Brown Health Center says it all comes down to traditional gender roles. “The normal thing is men with women, so we follow these rules,” Maldonado says. “But then after you realize, ‘Oh, my God, I have an attraction to another man,’ what do we do? We do it on the down-low.” Sex on the down-low involves secretive same-sex encounters. It’s practiced while in a heterosexual relationship, and it’s often practiced unsafely. Chavez says there are several reasons behind the unsafe practices — a macho feeling of invincibility, the influence of drugs or alcohol, and because wearing a condom, he says, is “like licking a lollipop with the wrapper on.” But at its root cause, Chavez says, is the esteem in which Latina wives are held. It’s an esteem that also leads to sexual frustration on the part of a sexually curious husband. Maria says she doesn’t know who gave the virus to her husband, and to Juana, it doesn’t matter. They were faithful, both say, even if their partners were not. “[Men living on the down-low] engage in oral sex with [other] men,” Chavez says of those with the need to look for encounters outside of their marriage. “They won’t do it with their wives. She kisses their kids.” For proof, look no further than La Cueva, a nightclub on Chicago’s Southwest Side. It’s where gay men not only grace the dance floor sashaying as sensuous lovers, but married men sit on barstools solo, scoping the scene in pursuit of their next homosexual encounter while transsexuals provide entertainment and escape. From 26th Street, no signage can be seen on La Cueva’s exterior — it sits as a bar with no name, a hidden sanctuary for many men masking what they truly desire. “Their wives think their fantasies are dirty, so they look for another experience,” says 38-year-old Ivan Sanchez, a gay suburbanite who travels to La Cueva for the music, but often gets hit on by men with wives waiting at home.

Salvador’s down-low lifestyle eventually led to his divorce; his children aren’t happy about his sexual orientation either. | photo stacie freudenberg |

“Many, many straight men are coming not for a relationship but for one crazy night,” he explains, before leading his boyfriend to the dance floor. Fifty-five-year-old Salvador knows he’s not straight, but don’t call him gay. The father of four and grandfather of eight works at a tony French bistro downtown, and on his Sunday night off, he passes one dollar bill after another to “Alexis,” a transsexual dancer. Why Alexis? “Because she is the most macho,” Salvador answers. “She looks like a real man.” His lifestyle, Salvador says, eventually led to his divorce, and his children aren’t happy about his sexual orientation. Those are the only ones who know, he says, because “it’s a private matter.” He hasn’t contracted HIV, but it is a constant concern. If he found a partner tonight, Salvador says he would wear a condom, but it only takes one encounter without one to contract a disease that never goes away. That disease doesn’t seem to concern Peter. Alone and sipping a beer, he says he has two hundred reasons in his pocket why a transsexual performer should have sex with him. That attitude offends one of the waitresses who doubles as a performer and insists they are not for sale. “I can’t stand gay guys,” Peter says with a laugh. “I’m very heterosexual, but I love transexual women ... men ... whatever they are!” Peter says he has spent $25,000 on them. He says he would sleep with a woman tomorrow. That woman could be someone like Juana or Maria, who can’t buy their way back to health. 41



ABOVE: Monica Cuevas, a coordinator of the “De Mujer a Mujer” program at the Renz Center, imparts AIDS awareness lessons to female students. | photo alberto treviño |

Juana is seeking counseling and says she feels excellent lately. She has told her family about her illness, and she encourages all women to practice safe sex — even if they are married. “Latino men don’t like to use a condom, and women need to make that decision for their life,” she says with a sigh. Maria is feeling well these days, too. She takes three pills in the morning and three pills at night, and she thanks God that her three children did not contract the disease. She has a boyfriend, and when they have sex, it’s always with protection. “I have all the support and love of my boyfriend and I feel good,” Maria says. Part of that overall wellness of being is aided by the Open Door Clinic, a suburban agency that provides lab testing, physician services and counseling. But agencies like the Open Door Clinic are scarce in Hispanic communities, and the programs many offer are too few. Juan Calderon directs Chicago’s Vida/SIDA, one of the only HIV-focused agencies within a predominantly Latino neighborhood in the city. “The Latino


community has not been receiving their fair share of the pie when it comes to health services,” Calderon says, explaining that Latinos with HIV instead opt to seek help in small clinics where they can find Latino doctors and counselors. Chavez sees the same trend at the Renz Center. “It’s much like many women’s preference to be treated by a female gynecologist,” he explains, adding that for many Latinas, lack of transportation and day care often are obstacles to going anywhere outside their immediate neighborhood. But at clinics that cater to Hispanics, the programs offered have been limited by government funding and initiative. Unlike its work within the black community, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has yet to approve any evidencebased program created by and for Latinas. This fact, Chavez says, impedes his work at the Renz Center. “We’re getting leftovers,” Chavez says of the CDC programs offered, including one called SISTA, an HIV-prevention program geared toward sexually active black women. “We can’t continue getting whatever is for the African-American community and tweaking it


Here’s what to look for: Determining whether you’re at risk for HIV can be difficult, and women in long-term heterosexual relationships are not exempt. “Women are more aware when they think their husband is going out with another woman, but when it comes to being gay, they are more likely to block it out,” says Dr. Daniela Schreier, an assistant professor at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology and a relationship expert. Schreier says it’s especially difficult to fathom if you think your own sexual relationship with your husband seems OK. “If we don’t think about it, it doesn’t exist,” she explains of the denial often present on the woman’s part when the man is on the down-low. But Ruth Houston, an infidelity expert and author of “Is He Cheating on You? 829 Telltale Signs,” says women must start thinking about it. “We’re talking about a matter of life and death,” she says. If you suspect your husband is engaging in sex with other men, the first step Houston advises is getting tested for HIV. Then it’s important to take precautions. “Start practicing safe sex and don’t let him bully you,” Houston says.

for our needs,” he says. Cultural sensitivity is essential, Chavez explains, because the differences between black and Hispanic women are “major.” That’s why he is thankful for a federal grant that will fund five years of a program called “De Mujer a Mujer,” a five-week HIV and substance abuse awareness class just for Latinas. Fifteen women take the class per session, and Chavez says the waiting list to get in is huge. He explains most women attend because they want to feel more comfortable talking to their kids about the issues. By the end of the program, his goal is to make them understand they need to be thinking about their own health as well. Family members are the only ones who know of Maria’s illness; she says she lacks the confidence to inform her friends. Living with HIV is a lonely existence, she says, and many days are sad ones. But with the support of her boyfriend, Maria admits she has the courage to go on. Juana, meanwhile, is busy caring for her 10-year-old son and her HIV-positive husband. She says her disease has only deepened her faith in God, and with his help she’s living as full and rich a life as she can. “My life is totally different now,” Juana says. “I live each day as if it were my last day.”

Eventually, you’ll have to confront him with your suspicions. It’s a difficult conversation, but an essential one. It may mean the end of your relationship as you know it but you must put your health and well-being first. • Suspicious non-verbal communication with other men — a look, a touch or a hug that lasts a little too long or has undertones of intimacy • Possession of gay pornography (videos, magazines, photos stored on his computer) • Frequenting gay or bisexual Web sites. Check the history in your Internet browser. • No longer sexually aroused by you or can’t maintain erection • A strong preference for anal sex. • An abundance of male friends with whom he seems to be too close or too familiar • Lots of phone calls from other men • Buying or receiving expensive, intimate or overly personal gifts from other men • Extreme homophobic behavior (overreacts to anything concerning gay or bisexual men) • Spends more time with his male friends than with you 43


Christmas, the acculturated way Chicago Latinos rediscover, relive and renew the holiday season words

Benjamin Ortiz photos Lynda Guillú and Jessica Quiñones

Growing up along the border, I spent almost every Sunday going to Matamoros, Tamaulipas. It was a pattern that became familiar — get up early, gulp down barbacoa tacos, go to church and then trek across to Mexico. The feasting, prayer and travel seemed both a spiritual and cultural renewal for the family, like a little Tex-Mex holiday to begin every week.



But these trips weren’t always comfortable, as my sister and I preferred to stay home sometimes. Coming from a sleepy Texas town whose population peaked at 3,000, we found Matamoros to be a congested, polluted and fast-moving place of extremes in poverty and violence. Moreover, my sister and I took the brunt of our cousins’ sometimes playful but usually painful references to us as pochos — americanos of Mexican descent who lost their culture, language and true homeland. Even so, holidays along the border were not strictly American nor Mexican for anyone on either side, but a fusion of what we would throw together — a little bit of Catholicism and a whole lot of Coca-Cola. Christmas and New Year’s Eve were especially memorable, since we often stayed in Mexico overnight. We’d arrive at our relatives’ cold, poorly heated house with gifts for family and neighborhood kids alike — little knick-knacks and dollar-store stuff. I personally looked forward to what my sister dreaded: the cheap, easily acquired fireworks available at every corner kiosk. I remember seeing those fireworks light up the smoggy night sky, as neighbors reenacted Joseph and Mary’s search for shelter with posadas, ringing out over the firecracker blasts with carols and cries of “Tamales!” As we grew older, the visits became more rare. We ultimately lost touch with Matamoros and assimilated into the holly-jolly culture of Santa Claus and the traditional New Year’s song “Auld Lang Syne,” like many subsequent generations of Americanized Latinos who join in the holiday rush with gift lists and champagne at midnight. Despite distance in time and space, Chicago Latinos still manage to renew cultural ties to the homelands of our ancestors through the dynamic flow of immigration. Caravans heading to Mexico typically take off for the Dec. 12 observance of La Virgen de Guadalupe day and stay through Jan. 6, the day of the Three Kings’ visit to the baby Jesus. The exodus is so dramatic that a Waukegan Public Schools source estimated in a 2007 Chicago Tribune report that 10 percent of Hispanic students in the district are absent for almost a month over the holiday season.

Many, of course, can’t leave, and so the celebrations go on with Chicago flair. As Latino writer Luis Alberto Urrea put it in a 2004 New York Times op-ed, “Every American city is now a border town,” noting the corn husks and masa mixes available at supermarkets for a “traditional Christmas meal of tamales, but Chicago style — with bratwurst instead of beef.” HOUSE MUSIC, HOLY DAYS IN ‘D.F.’ “We’re the ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ house, but Mexican-style,” says Mayra Neria, a 35-year-old first-generation Mexican-American born and raised on Chicago’s North Side. She talks about how close-knit her family remains, with an aunt and grandparents living within a few blocks of her mom’s house. “Basically, there are four generations in one house,” she says, mentioning her own daughter, Jessica, who is kicking off the Americanization process by moving out to go to college. “For her to leave the house to go to school, it took a lot [because] we don’t leave — you don’t leave until you’re married.” Even with traditional Mexican mores dominating her upbringing, Neria gravitated toward the booming bass of Chicago house music and soaked up as many musical influences as she could tune into on the radio. But along with “the big hair and the bright, bright lipstick” of ’80s DJ parties, she remembers traveling to her parents’ homeland of

OPPOSITE: This representation of Los Tres Reyes Magos can be found at La Casita de Don Pedro in Humboldt Park. LEFT: The güiro is one of the many instruments used in the traditional Puerto Rican parranda. | photo opposite: lynda guillú; photo left: jessica quiñones | 45


Chilangolandia — Mexico City. There, she picked up dance steps from relatives so she could hang with guaracha as easily as disco. From the age of six months on, Neria traveled back and forth between Chicago and Mexico City a few times each year. “This was all throughout my childhood and my adolescence until I had my daughter, and then it kind of tapered off a bit,” she says. She grew up with her cousins as an extended batch of siblings who were curious and in awe of the trendy Chicago that she was discovering. “It wasn’t until I was 15 or 16 that I got an appreciation of the architecture and urban culture of Mexico City,” she remembers. “At 17, I took a trip to visit my cousin, and we went to the Basílica de la Virgen de Guadalupe. I never felt such an overwhelming emotion like I did that day walking into it. … It’s phenomenal.” Neria feels a sense of Greater Mexico in her own home during the holidays, but she still travels to renew her memories and to share traditional experiences with her daughter: “Christmas has always been my favorite, because there’s the posadas. … It’s not like here. Even the piñatas — they have peanuts, they have sugar cane in them, they have oranges. I hate to use the word basic, because to us here it is basic, but there it’s super-cool to gather a big bag of peanuts from a piñata!” She goes through a catalog of commonplaces – ponche (fruit punch cider), midnight Mass and the baby Jesus of nativity scenes that neighbors would dress up for Christmas Eve and treat to caresses and carols. She also talks about the real gift-giving day, Jan. 6, that makes for an extended Mexican holiday: “It wasn’t a very big thing when I was growing up, but now that I had Jessica, and my cousins were around, we started getting them more used to the idea of Los Tres Reyes. … January 6 [is] when they have gifts for the kids. Over here, [we] buy the rosca, and whoever gets El Niño Dios has to throw the party [on Feb. 2]. I mean, there’s always a party for one reason or another.” EPIPHANY ON PASEO BORICUA Poet Eduardo Arocho remembers a particularly disturbing cultural mish-mash at a Chicago parade observing the Jan. 6 Día de los Tres Reyes Magos: “We had the Three Kings, and Ronald McDonald was on the horse wag-


on too. And I said, ‘Uh, uh, no, he isn’t supposed to be there!’” At 39, Arocho has played a significant part in not only learning his own cultural roots but also sharing them with all of Chicago. As executive director of the Division Street Business Development Association, he is helping build the neighborhood around a core of Puerto Rican commerce and culture. He describes his journey as self-discovery and re-learning of lost traditions, including his switch from the Baptist religion of his father to Catholicism: “I just felt that it was a religion that I had to know more of because I wanted to feel closer to the culture.” Growing up with mostly mainstream Christmases, Arocho slowly absorbed Puerto Rican influences at a distance, from his brother’s stories of Jan. 6 celebrations on the island to the first time he went with a church group on a suburban parranda, the tradition of singing aguinaldos [carols] from door to door and being welcomed in for food. In college at Northeastern Illinois University, he started to work for various cultural institutions, where he was introduced to woodcarvings of saints and the Three Kings. Arocho went to Old San Juan in January 2005 to experience Tres Reyes Magos celebrations on the island for the first time. It was a historic time to Arocho because Puerto Rican representatives in the garb of the Three Kings had been welcomed by the Pope at the Vatican, and the holiday’s special moment of international recognition was highlighted in newspapers and songs. He remembers also the unveiling of the flag sculptures on Division Street on Jan. 6, 1995, and how a haphazardly organized parade has grown into a big winter festival. “Now it’s the first parade of the year in Chicago — and it’s the fastest parade,” he says, referring to the rush to get out of the typically frosty weather. When asked about the significance of the Three Kings for Puerto Rican culture, he centers on Melchor, the African king: “It’s a [matter of] self-identification, and the Three Kings are as popular a representation of Puerto Rico as the coquí (tree frog) — among poor people early on in Puerto Rican history, they were worshipped.” This year, he talks about introducing a big spin on the Three Kings celebration. “I’m thinking that we should have three women kings, to do a little something different,” he says.


Elements of a Nativity scene, a traditional Holiday decoration in many Latino homes. | photo lynda guillĂş | 47

cafégrande| XXXXXXX caféXXXXX

Rock by any other language Much like Richie Valens and The Mars Volta, local Latino bands set out to cross a new border words

Christina E. Rodríguez


Eddie Quiñones

The basement is cool and roomy. Cigarette smoke, incense and perspiration mix in the stale air. An array of guitars and cases sit up against the wall. A blue curtain, what used to be a door, separates the basement rooms. The practice room is covered with blankets of different colors and patterns that drape the walls and couches that encircle the blue, shimmery drum set. Welcome to The Temple, Pure Remedy’s practice space and the laundry room for the Ocampo family. Jose “Joey” Nava, 21, is the drummer and Jose Luis “Louie” Ocampo, 24, is the lead singer and guitarist for Pure Remedy. Their other two bandmates are guitarist Carlos Ortega, 22, and bassist Edgar Perez, 21. When rehearsing, the musicians position themselves like they would for a show, except for Carlos. He sits on a red, worn-out couch. They play toward a wall, their imaginary audience. Joey uses so much energy and force while playing that he almost falls off the stool he is sitting on. His arms are like those of an octopus,


and a draft resonates from each drum roll and cymbal hit. Louie’s hand moves up and down the guitar’s neck, gracefully touching each string, making his sparkly multi-colored instrument sing. His right hand strums so fast that at times it looks like a blur. Under the red light, Edgar strums his bass, the effort, if any, shown in the way he purses his lips together. He removes his beanie hat and rubs his face, wiping away the tiny beads of sweat. The band members joined forces during the summer of 2008 to create progressive, alternative and


experimental music. Prior to founding Pure Remedy, Louie played in a Spanish-rock band called Nora Wears Angora, with his compadre, Victor “Vic” Sanchez, 25, and his brother Juan Sanchez, Jr., 27. All of Pure Remedy’s songs are in English, unlike Nora Wears Angora’s. For Louie, the transition from one band to the other, was a social statement. “Being able to play your own music changes people. It changes the tempo of things,” he says. “English is more universal. It’s easier for people to come together in English.” The band plays anywhere from once a week to three times a month, usually sharing the spotlight with other bands. One of them is Black Roses, a progressive band, inspired by Guns N’ Roses, The Red Hot Chili Peppers and Mexican rock band Caifanes. Vic Sanchez plays the drums, Adrian Jorge Campos, who’s often called by his middle name, plays lead guitar, and Gustavo “Goose” Hidalgo sings and plays bass, a job which has been transitioned to Juan Sanchez, so that Goose can perform his crazy antics on stage. Goose, now 20, and Jorge, 21, were seniors at St. Ignatius College Prep in Chicago’s South Side when they came up with the idea

for Black Roses. The fact that they occasionally took music lessons helped them develop their musical vision. But for Jorge, though, things changed after being at a Jaguares concert during his sophomore year of high school. “I remember being in the crowd, watching the band play behind all this fog and flashing lights and people going nuts,” he says. “I remember saying, ‘Man, one day I’m going to be up there and be the cause for all this chaos.’” The music that the Black Roses create is inspired by anything from sex and death to Disney movies. Their sound is a concoction of blues, funk and a touch of punk. It has something that, in the Black Roses’ perspective, others lack. “[Our music] has balls, which seems to be missing from a lot of rock groups nowadays,” claims Jorge. “It seems that after the 90s no one was there to pick up the ball where all the other great bands left it. I guess our mission is to pick up where they left off and keep running, hoping that others will run with us.” While playing in Nora Wears Angora, Vic says the band began moving toward Englishlanguage songs because the Spanish rock genre, especially in the mainstream Latino

ABOVE LEFT: Pure Remedy (Luis Ocampo, Joey Nava, Carlos Ortega) relax at The Temple, their rehearsal space which also serves as the laundry room for the Ocampo family. | photo eddie quiñones | 49


world, was dying off. “There’s no genre for rock en español,” Vic says. “Juanes is considered Spanish rock, but that’s pop to me. Everyone’s selling out.” Local bands like Pure Remedy and Black Roses are following in the footsteps of many Latino, English-speaking bands before them, such as The Mars Volta, created by Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and Cedric Bixler-Zavala, Rage Against the Machine and Los Lobos. Latino, English-speaking rock ‘n’ roll roots can be traced to Richie Valens (“La Bamba”) and Sam the Sham and the Pharoahs, who had the top 40 hit in 1965, “Wooly Bully.” They also mirror a similar trend in Latin America’s rock en español scene: the embracing of more Anglo sounds and English lyrics. In Search of a Space

Members of Black Roses: (from left) Juan Sanchez, Jr., Adrian Campos, Gustavo Hildalgo, and Victor Sanchez. | photo eddie quiñones |

The rock en español scene came to life in Chicago in the mid-90s. “Back in the [early] 1990s, the Spanish rock movement was not even around in Chicago,” says Rumis Corral, lead singer for Confusion, another English-language Latino band. “Most people were attached to new wave music, classic rock and new alternative music, although there were a few people working on the Spanish rock movement.” “We formed Confusion, having many influences, and [were] hungry for expression. We looked for places to perform and be heard,” continues Rumis. “Pilsen was our target and we hit La Décima Musa, then El Viejo Café. We ran into other bands


like Sobredosis, Elefante Blanco and Alebrije, among others.” Hector Garcia, lead singer for Descarga, founded in 1996, and producer of the television show E>N>E: Chicago Rocks, has been active in the scene as well. E>N>E stands for Errores No Eliminados (Mistakes Not Eliminated) and airs on cable television channel 25 in Chicago. The program allows local Spanish rock bands to perform approximately 10 minute sets followed by interviews. “Little by little, week by week, more bands were being added to the bill,” he says about those early days of Spanish rock. “Shows were packed because there was no other place to listen to it.” Descarga has also started a transition to English songs. Hector and his guitarist, Everardo Rodriguez, decided it was time to evolve. As a teenager, Hector wanted to sing in Spanish as a way to go back to his roots. He wanted to prove that he could do it, although his Spanish songs would be translated from his English lyrics. “I wanted to write a song about a fork in the road,” Hector explains, “but I didn’t realize that you didn’t say it like that in Spanish, so now I have a song called ‘Tenedor.’” He sees using English as another tool for his musical agenda. “If Spanish rock bands could sing in English, they would,” he states. “You use every weapon in your arsenal. If you speak English, why not?” hBlack Roses, being of Mexican descent, don’t feel that their Latino culture plays a big role in their



You read about them, now listen: musical creation. “[Spanish rock bands are] committing suicide by staying in their circle,” says Vic. “[We] wanted to make music in Spanish because, ‘Oh, we’re Mexican,’ but then we realized that they weren’t listening to us.” “Hence, our music is universal because it has a bit of everything and it’s in English,” adds Goose. “I’d like to think that I can sing in English and have everyone listen to it rather than be so in touch with my Latinidad, that I neglect the rest of the world.” Pure Remedy, also of Mexican descent, doesn’t feel hindered by being Latino, but still tries to incorporate elements of their culture into their work. “We keep our roots intact,” says Louie. “There are no more rules [other than] being Latino.” Although there is still a rock en español scene in Chicago, Hector calls it a blessing and a curse. Because of the readymade scene, the bands learned nothing about marketing. They weren’t getting honest critiques and leaned on promoters to handle their business. “The marketing wasn’t taught to us, but it was handed to us,” he says. Bands in other cities learned how it worked because of the non-Latino bands that surrounded them. “They’re right next to the Anglo bands that had to do it,” Hector explains. While many Latino bands play for Latino audiences, there are times when Pure Remedy

Pure Remedy Confusion Black Roses Descarga

and the Black Roses find themselves playing for non-Latino audiences in predominantly nonLatino bars and neighborhoods, among them, the U.S. Beer Co. in Wicker Park in Chicago and O’Malley’s in Alsip, Ill. “I don’t think of myself as being Mexican,” says Jorge. “I just want them to look at us as a band that wants to get somewhere.” “I don’t want to be treated special because I’m a Latino,” adds Goose. “Just listen to the music.”

ABOVE: Black Roses during and after rehearsal. | photo eddie quiñones | 51



fashion Keep warm as you look cool in this winter’s eclectic mix of outerwear

Photographer AKin GIrav Art Director alberto treviño Production Manager Gina Santana Fashion Stylist Tony Bryan, Ford Models Fashion Stylist Assistant mary collins Hair Stylist Gia Tummillo Make-up Artist Lia Rivette Model Rose Costa, Ford Models Set Designer Benjamin Cottrell Set Design Artist Vyto Grybauskas



Plaid Shirt by BDG Urban Outfitters Plaid Coat by Betsy Johnson Bloomingdale’s Grey Shorts by Express Express Plaid Tights and Argyle Socks by Hue Macy’s Fingerless Gloves H&M Grey Suede Belt by Ralph Lauren Nordstrom 53


Red Plaid Jacket by Guess Macy’s Red Vest by The North Face Bloomingdale’s Socks by Sparkle and Fade Urban Outfitters Boots by Uggs Uggs Australia Gloves by Aqua Bloomingdale’s Black Hat by Brixton Una Mae’s Jeans, Model’s own



Checked Hat by Nine West Macy’s Light Brown Jacket by Tulle Macy’s Gold Leggins, Dress and Scarf by H&M H&M Brown Boots by Uggs Uggs Australia 55


Coat with Fur Collar by Elie Tahari Bloomingdale’s Black Suede Belt by Ralph Lauren Nordstrom Purple Gloves by Portolano Bloomingdale’s Black Boots by Steve Madden Nordstrom



Native Print Coat by BB Dakota Una Maeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Grey Suit Jacket by Elie Tahari Nordstrom Grey Skirt by Theory Nordstrom Turquoise Belt by Salvatore Ferragamo Nordstrom Grey Shoe-Boots by Kimchi Blue Urban Outfitters Grey Socks by Nordstrom Nordstrom 57


Black Jacket by Laundry Bloomingdale’s Black Mittens by H&M H&M Fur Hat by Aqua Bloomingdale’s Sunglasses, stylist’s own



Fur Headband by Collection Fifty Nine Bloomingdaleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s White Jacket by Rick Owens 59



Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano says God has a plan for him words

Christina E. Rodríguez photos Jillian Sipkins

“There are some things you don’t forget,” Carlos Zambrano says with a laugh, “like your first kiss.” For the 28-year-old Chicago Cubs pitcher, it was his first game eight years ago against the Milwaukee Brewers at Wrigley Field. “I remember the first batter, the first pitch. I was nervous from the dugout to the mound. I had some butterflies in my stomach,” Zambrano remembers, sitting in street clothes in the stands of Wrigley Field — a sight people rarely see. When Zambrano is in uniform, he has a job to do. He has to go up to the mound, stare down the batters and strike them out. That is, without making mistakes, because if there’s one thing that Zambrano can’t stand it’s making mistakes. Cubs fans know that all too well. From taking out his anger on his teammates to taking a bat to the Gatorade dispenser in the dugout, the 6’5” Venezuelan is quite the emotional pitcher. “Sometimes I try to control it, but there are things that I have to put in God’s hands so He can do the miracle or He can do His job of changing my emotional side,” he says thoughtfully. “I think I put an effort from my side; I can change.”

60 Café November NOVEMBER | December2009 DECEMBER2009

Zambrano claims that he ignores the media’s criticisms to his field performance. “At least they don’t come after my family or my personal life, so we’re OK,” he explains with a nod. “They have the right to write whatever they want. It’s their job.” When Zambrano leaves Wrigley Field, he leaves behind the anger and the problems and remembers that he is a father, a son, a husband and a friend. “As soon as I cross the line, it’s over. Thank God I know how to separate my baseball life and my personal life,” he says. “I’ve been doing a good job with that since I came to the big leagues.” Zambrano joined the Chicago Cubs in 2001. He came to the United States when he was 16 with the opportunity to make it big, something that he had been hoping for since he was a 14-year-old living in Venezuela. “When I was a little kid, I saw Wrigley Field on TV or any other ballpark like US Cellular or Fenway Park and, you know, all those ballparks [that] as a child you admire. And now you’re here and you see those ballparks in person, and you say, ‘Wow!’ It’s a blessing, it’s a blessing from God,” he says as his eyebrows raise in amazement.


Carlos Zambrano hopes to fulfill his dream of becoming a minister when and if he retires from baseball. 61


“Every time I come to the club house and I think of being here, there are so many people that want to be here”

A ROLE MODEL When he’s at home, he spends time with his daughters Carlise, 9, Catherine, 6, and Carla, 4. “It’s funny because my oldest daughter is the one that will talk about things. Just a month ago, she told me, just like this, ‘Daddy, I need my credit card because I need to buy my own stuff.’ I said, ‘You little girl, you get out of here, you’re too little for that,’” he explains with a laugh. “Sometimes she tells me things and I just laugh because if [this is now that] she’s just 9 years old, how about when she’ll be 18 or 19? I’ll be in trouble.” Zambrano has also come to realize that he is a role model for his girls, explaining that to get to where he is they must work as hard as he did. “[Carlise] says things like, ‘I want to be famous like you.’ I said, ‘Well, you have to practice any sport or play any instrument. Who knows, you can be the next best piano player’.” The last time he was in Venezuela, where the majority of his family lives, including his parents, was in January. He says he has a good relationship with his parents and seven brothers, two of whom live in the United States with their families. “You never see my mom mad. My mom is always laughing. You can say something and she’ll laugh,” he says. “My dad is the opposite. He’s a little stricter.” “Like a father and son, I have a lot of problems with my dad [because] we have the same character. We have problems, we struggle sometimes,” he says. “At the end of the day, he’s

62 Café November | December2009

the man that brought me into the world and I love him, I just don’t like the way he is sometimes.” Along with being connected to his family, Zambrano is a deeply spiritual man, always speaking in terms of God’s plan for him and his life ahead. He practices his Christian faith at The Carpenter’s House, a church on Chicago’s North Side. Before every game he pitches, you can find Zambrano kneeling and praying for protection from any kind of accident on the field, whether it is a line drive back to the mound or a pulled hamstring while running. Zambrano doesn’t take the gift that he was given for granted. “Every time I come to the club house and I think of being here, there are so many people that want to be here,” he says. “The idea is [...] spending a lot of time in the big leagues with the ability that God gives you and that’s the most important thing for me.” When Zambrano signed with the Cubs, he was secure in his belief that this would be his first and only contract. After baseball, Zambrano hopes to fulfill his dream of becoming a minister. “That was my whole passion since I was little. I wanted to preach the Word of God. I never dreamed of baseball until I was 13 or 14, but I dreamed to be a man of God since I was 7, 8,” he explains. “God thinks differently than how human beings think, so He probably prepared a platform for me in baseball and I believe in that.”

The winners, their families, representatives from Cafe Media and Diageo gathered at Mi Tierra Restaurant for the Scholarship Awards ceremony on Sept. 21.

the future celebrated 63

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a rewarding first step


afé Media, a Latino lifestyle media company exploring the contemporary Latino lifestyle, and Diageo, the world’s leading premium drinks business, joined forces early this year to launch a unique intiative. The Diageo - Celebrate the Future Scholarship Fund was created to provide scholarships to students who want to break into the hospitality industry and employees who want to improve their managerial skills in this promising field. Over $50,000 in scholarships were made available.

From left to right: Luis Rosado, manager of Cluster Innovation and Outstate Illinois Marketing for Diageo; Julian Posada, publisher of Cafe Media; Brent Albertson, senior vicepresident and general manager, Diageo; and scholarship recipient Ana Padilla.


Latinos from all over the Chicago area entered the contest by submitting letters of recommendation and personal essays about their journey in the kitchens or the bars where they work, or explaining their desire to pursue a career as managers or owners of their own businesses. People like Jonatan Romero, a Guatemalan native who came to the United States for a better life; Pearl Gonzalez, a mixed

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How to apply Would you like to become a professional in the food-service or hospitality industry? Do you know someone who is over the age of 21 and wants to pursue a career in hotel, restaurant or bar management, work in a catering or culinary business, or own or manage a liquor store? Here’s what you can do: • Nominate yourself or someone you know. (One entry per person)  • Read the Participating Rules and meet the criteria for participation. • Fill out a nomination form available at participating locations or online at www. Winners of the $2,000 and $5,000 scholarshipw surrounded by representatoves of Diageo and Cafe Media.

Send it to Diageo - Celebrate the Future Scholarship Fund c/o Cafe Media, 660 West Grand Ave., Chicago, IL 60654 before April 30, 2010. Award decisions will be based on demonstrated need and dedication to getting ahead. Finalists will be chosen by a review committee. Winners will be announced in May 2010.

The winners of the eight $5000 scholarships: (from left to roght): Delfino Carbajal, Tania Merlos-Ruiz, Ana Padilla, Hector Salinas, Jonatan Romero, Mariela Marcellez, Ivette Aguirre and Edson Miranda.

martial arts fighter who hopes to open up her own bar; and Rocio Hererra, who wants to study nutrition in order to help people live healthier lives through food, applied for and walked away with a scholarship. “I almost fainted,” said Romero, when Julian Posada, founder and president of Café Media, called him to tell him he had won the Johnnie Walker “Keep Walking” $5,000 scholarship award. “He had to convince me that it wasn’t a joke.” Romero will use the money to take more cooking classes. He aspires to climb the ranks of the Spirit of Chicago and Odyssey boats on Navy Pier. “I want

to give my family a better life,” he said. “That’s my main motivation.” There were eight $5,000 scholarships, all of which had their own title. In addition to the “Keep Walking” scholarship, two of which were given to two different recipients, there was the Jose Cuervo “Live Notoriously Well” scholarship, two Don Julio “Legendary” scholarships, the Buchanan’s “Leave a Lasting Mark” scholarship, one Bailey’s “Cream of the Crop” scholarship and one Crown Royale “Crown Worthy” scholarship. In addition to the larger, academic scholarships, there were also 10 $2,000 scholarships given for voca-

tional endeavors, such as bartending school and cooking classes, to raise the level of competency in the kitchen and the bar. Members of both Café Media and Diageo were appointed to the selection committee. Each committe member reviewed every application and gave it a score from 1 to 10 based on need, age and the strength of the essay. The scores were then averaged in order to determine finalists and reviewed once again to select the winners. “Applicants ranged from dishwashers to doctors, from students to entrepreneurs. Anyone who got wind of this opportunity and has a passion for 65

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this industry seemed to be interested in what Diageo - Celebrate the Future had to offer,” said Luis Rosado, Manager of Cluster Innovation and Outstate Illinois Marketing for Diageo. “Given the amount of applications and the caliber of the applicants, the first year of Diageo - Celebrate the Future was extremely successful.” Overall, Diageo and Café Media received 90 applications from which 18 winners were chosen, The winners were presented with oversized checks at an awards dinner held at Mi Tierra Restaurant on South Kedzie Avenue on Sept. 21. Participating businesses included Adobo Grill, Zocalo Restaurant, La Vinata, Giovanni’s and Moreno’s Liquors. Edson Miranda, was among the winners, a 21-year-old student at Kendall College who loves the adrenaline rush he feels in the kitchen on a busy Saturday night. Miranda has been cooking since he was 16 and hopes to someday open his own restaurant. Delfino Carbajal, 34, is a student at Washburn Culinary Institute, who says this scholarship will help cut down his 60 hour work weeks. “It’ll make a great difference in my whole life,” he says. Carbajal fell in love with the kitchen at the very young age of six when he would watch his mother prepare meals. “I’m sure this is what I was born for.” A student at St. Augustine College, Hector Salinas, 33, started out as a dishwasher and worked his way into the kitchen. This scholarship will help him advance in the cooking world. Ivette Aguirre, 21, is an advocate for helping Latinas move forward in the culinary world. As a student at Kendall College, Aguirre serves as secretary for Latino Asuntos, an organization for Latinos in the culinary arts. Her goal is to eventually become a personal chef. “Food is something that people can respect in every aspect all over the world,” she says.


Edson Miranda, a student at Kendall College, writes his name in an oversized check. | photo abel arciniega |

A double major at Northeastern Illinois University, 22-year-old Mariela Marcellez says that with “fuerza y ganas” she would like to eventually open her own family restaurant. Using her parents as her main motivation, Tania Merlos-Ruiz, 42, wants to study vegan cooking, focusing on nutritional food. She is inspired to help others cook healthy meals as a way to stop the incidence of type 2 diabetes, a prevalent epidemic within the Latino community. She eventually wants to open her own catering business. Ana Maria Padilla, 23, is a student at the University of Illinois at Chicago and has been working in the restaurant business with her family since she was 10 years old. Padilla wants to give back to her community and to her parents by becoming the best she can be. “You want

to show your parents the gratitude by succeeding in life,” she says. This scholarship is a step in the right direction to fulfill that dream. Café Media and Diageo are partnering again to kick off a second round of scholarships to be granted in 2010.

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for New ‘Heights’ Bold Latino musical comes to Chicago in search of new audiences words:

In the past year, you won four Tonys: Best Choreography, Best Orchestrations, Best Original Score and Best Musical, not to mention the Grammy for Best Musical Show Album. So what do you do next?

TOP: A scene from the original Broadway production of “In the Heights.” ABOVE: Lin-Manuel Miranda is taking his award-winning musical to 23 cities around the country.

If you’re Lin-Manuel Miranda, you’ve already captured New York City and now it’s time to take on the whole country. One of many new projects Miranda undertook since his musical “In The Heights” sprang him to fame last year is a national tour that started in June and will continue through next spring in 23 cities, plus New York. “We’ve cast an amazing group of people and we’re all getting back into [it]. Only this time I don’t have to juggle writing and acting,” Miranda says. “I can really just be the composer, which I’m really excited about.” For Miranda, seeing his musical — which he says was born out of his homesick-

Amina Elahi

ness as a 19-year-old at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn. — is a dream realized on many levels. From Latin and hip-hopbased songs to its majority-Latino cast, “In The Heights” was in many ways an experiment. When it came to composing, one of the greatest creative challenges Miranda encountered was writing fast-paced songs that wouldn’t leave the audience behind. “When you listen to a hip-hop album at home, a really good song, you rewind it so you can hear the lyric again,” he says. “How much information can we [pack] into a hip-hop lyric when it only exists once in real time?” As one of a few Broadway musicals to cast Latinos in starring roles, “In The Heights” provides a platform for what Miranda describes as “hungry Latino talent” in the theater world today. Despite that, he does not consider that ethnic background is a prerequisite to be in the show. “If you’re fierce, you’re fierce,” he says. According to Miranda, many of the roles 67


LEFT: Javier Muñoz and the original Broadway cast of “In the Heights.” ABOVE: Mandy González and Christopher Jackson from the original production.

available to Latino actors today are stereotypical — the janitor, the drug addict, the maid. Henry Godinez, artistic associate director at the Goodman Theatre and curator of the Goodman’s Latino Theatre Festival, would say audiences expect another sort of standard Latino role: that of the Puerto Rican characters from “West Side Story.” “‘In The Heights’ presents a much more updated and urban and realistic view of the contemporary Latino experience,” Godinez says. “It talks about family, there’s the abuela, there’s the neighborhood, the community.” It is with this spirit of experimentation that Miranda has since dabbled in other performances. He got his “dream gig” last year when “West Side Story” writer and director Arthur Laurents approached him with the task of translating some of the Sharks’ dialogue and songs into Spanish. With the revamping of this classic musical, Miranda again faced the challenge of pushing the limits. “There was a lot of playing with, you know. If you don’t speak Spanish, how much can you get away with and still have the audience know what’s going on?” he said. Following that experiment was Miranda’s jump to the small screen. During his twoepisode stint on the hit FOX drama “House,” he says, “I spent a month palling around in a mental asylum with Hugh Laurie.”


In a completely different role, Miranda will also guest star on the 40th season premiere of “Sesame Street.” Despite all these new enterprises, the “In The Heights” national tour is still foremost in Miranda’s mind, and with it the excitement of exploring the country. “There’s so much of this country I haven’t really gotten to see,” he says. “The tour is a chance for me to check in and visit with the show and see these other parts.” Chicago is a city Miranda is especially interested in exploring, from going to a Cubs game to checking out the theater scene. He spent a week in the city in June as part of the Johnny Mercer Songwriters Project at Northwestern University. “There’s such a vibrant theater community in Chicago already, so I’m really curious to see ‘In The Heights’ settle itself in amongst all the exciting stuff that’s already going on,” Miranda says. Godinez knows the challenge of attracting a Latino theatergoing audience in Chicago. Over the past ten years, the majority of shows that drew Latino viewers were so-called straight plays, not musicals. “What’s cool is, I think, that ‘In The Heights’ casts even a wider net and can bring in a whole other Latino audience who feels more comfortable going to a commercial musical,” Godinez says. This show, he believes, could give Latino

In the Heights When: Dec. 15 - Jan. 3 Where: Cadillac Palace Theatre

151 W. Randolph St.

Info: (312) 977-1710

theater a broader appeal and attract people to other local Latino companies like Teatro Vista and Teatro Luna. “In The Heights” will run at the Cadillac Palace Theatre in Chicago from Dec. 15 to Jan. 3. In the meantime, Miranda is working on a hip-hop concept album about the life of Alexander Hamilton, America’s first treasury secretary. He likens the project to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Jesus Christ Superstar” in its experimental nature. Looking back, Miranda’s proudest moments were when kids would come to “In The Heights” and scream in recognition upon seeing the Dominican flag on stage. “There’s a sense of validation there,” he says, “There’s a sense of, ‘We’re part of this world, and we’re part of this community.’” Whether through more Broadway musicals or hip-hop albums, Miranda will no doubt keep pushing the limits to the highest levels of performance art.

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ToDOTOSÍ < Aventura When: Nov. 20, 9 p.m. What: Urban bachata group Aventura kicks off the first leg of their U.S. tour in Chicago. Could this be their last time together? The title of their latest album, “The Last,” may or may not provide a clue. Where: Allstate Arena, 6920 N. Mannheim Rd., Rosemont Admission: $50-$125 Info:

Jaguares When: Nov. 7, 8 p.m. What: The acclaimed Mexican rock band, known for its existentialist lyrics and rather dark grooves, shares a bill with tropical groups Sonora Santanera and Sonora Dinamita. Where: Aragon Ballroom, 1106 W. Lawrence Ave., Chicago Admission: $37 Info: Natalia Lafourcade & Hello Seahorse When: Nov. 13, 9 p.m. What: Natalia Lafourcade’s music is a wonderful mix of pop, rock, bossa-nova and Latin rhythms. She shares this double bill with Hello Seahorse, a Mexican trio that combines a twee sensibility and artsy DIY visual aesthetic with unexpected instrumental interludes. Where: Logan Square Auditorium, 2539 N. Kedzie Blvd., Chicago Info: The Puerto Rican Cuatro Festival When: Nov. 14, 7 p.m. Where: The Puerto Rican Arts Alliance proudly presents the 11th Annual Cuatro Festival featuring the 30-piece Chicago Cuatro Orchestra, as well as appearances by Odilio González, Los Hermanos Sanz, Javier Méndez & Los Hermanos Olavarría. Where: Harris Theater for Music and Dance at Millennium Park, 205 E. Randolph Dr., Chicago Admission: $25-$75 Info: (312) 334-7777, The Nutcracker on Horseback When: Nov. 14-Jan. 9


What: This horseback version of the Tchaikovsky favorite features the best trick riders and horses performing the classical roles of Clara, The Mouse King and The Sugar Plum Fairy. Where: Noble Horse Theater, 1410 N. Orleans St., Chicago Info: (312) 266-7878, Symphony in Lights When: Nov. 14-Dec. 31 Where: 250,000 LED lights and 10 tons of holiday décor accompanied by the music of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra will blow your mind away as you shop for the holidays. Where: Promenade Bolingbrook, 631 E. Boughton Road, Bolingbrook Info: (630) 296-8340, McCormick Tribune Plaza and Ice Rink When: Nov. 18-March 14 What: Kick off the winter season with some outdoor fun. The rink attracts more than 100,000 skaters annually. Skate rental is available for $10. Where: Intersection of Michigan Ave. and Washington St., Chicago Admission: Free Hours: Mondays-Thursdays, 12-8 p.m.; Fridays, 12-10 p.m.; Saturdays (until Jan. 2), 10 a.m.-10 p.m.; Saturdays (beginning Jan. 9) and Sundays, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Info: Snow Much Fun When: Opens Nov. 20 What: Why should your kids wait for Mother Nature to finally dump at least four inches of snow to go out and play? The Chicago

Children’s Museum will give them the opportunity to throw snowballs, build a snow fort and even ice skate inside. Where: Chicago Children’s Museum, inside Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand Ave., Chicago Admission: Adults and children, $10; seniors, $9 Hours: Daily, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Thursday, 5-8 p.m. Info: (312) 527-1000, Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light When: Nov. 20–Jan. 3 What: The White House is the inspiration for this year’s holiday exhibit. More than 50 trees will be decorated by members of Chicago’s ethnic communities. There will be additional activities, such as dance, music performances and storytelling. Where: Museum of Science and Industry, 57th St. and Lake Shore Drive, Chicago Hours: Monday to Saturday, 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Info: (773) 684-1414, A Christmas Carol When: Nov. 20-Dec. 31 What: You gotta feel sorry for Scrooge. Every Xmas it’s the same thing. The Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future stop by to remind him that it is not too late to change his miserly ways. All joking aside, the Goodman’s production of the perennial Christmas classic is a joy to behold. Where: Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St., Chicago Admission: $15-$74 Info: (312) 443-3800,

calendar Star of Wonder When: Nov. 23–Jan. 3 What: Catch this presentation of the Adler Planetarium’s annual holiday sky show at the Sky Theater before it closes for renovations. “Star of Wonder” examines the theories behind the celestial event that prompted Los Tres Reyes Magos to travel to Bethlehem. Where: Sky Theater, Adler Planetarium, 1300 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago Hours: Daily, 10:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. Info: (312) 922-7827,

Christkindlmarket When: Nov. 26-Dec. 24 What: Daley Plaza will be transformed once again into a quaint, German town. Enjoy traditional German food, drinks and live entertainment while you shop for that unique, hand-made gift. Where: Daley Plaza, between Washington, Clark and Dearborn St., Chicago Hours: Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Nov. 26, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.; Nov. 27, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Dec. 24, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Info:

McDonald’s Thanksgiving Day Parade When: Nov. 26 What: The traditional downtown parade will feature performances by the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus, the Jesse White Tumblers, dozens of marching bands (including Banda Municipal de Dorado, Puerto Rico), musical acts and dozens of giant balloon versions of your favorite television characters. Where: State Street, from Congress to Randolph, Chicago Hours: 8-11 a.m. Info:

Wreathing of the Lions When: Nov. 27 What: The Art Institute’s lions join in the annual holiday fun with their traditional wreathing. After the ceremony, watch a performance by Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and visit a drop-in workshop to create a wreath inspired by the exhibition “Playing with Pictures: The Art of Victorian Photocollage.” Where: Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago Hours: 10:30 a.m.–3:30 p.m. Info:

Mercado Navideño When: Nov. 27-29 What: Give the gift of Mexico this year. The National Museum of Mexican Art will hold its annual holiday market featuring hundreds of beautiful artisanal objects. Where: National Museum of Mexican Art, 1852 W. 19th St., Chicago Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Info: (312) 738-1503, The Snow Queen When: Nov. 27-Dec. 27 What: This theatrical adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s winter tale has become as much of a Chicago holiday tradition as the Goodman’s annual production of “A Christmas Carol.” Through a combination of puppetry and actors, “The Snow Queen” tells the story of a boy who has been kidnapped by the title character and his best friend’s efforts to rescue him from her clutches. Where: Victory Gardens Theater, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago Info: (773) 871-3000,

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Cooler by the Cake One expert’s tireless and delicious search for Chicago’s best tres leches words and photos

Maura Wall Hernández

Bombón’s traditional tres leches cake

Carnivale serves its tres leches cake with fresh, seasonal fruit.

I have eaten more pastel de tres leches over the last few months than I (or my waistline) care to admit. I began my quest for the best, most authentic tres leches in Chicago as my August wedding anniversary was rapidly approaching. It’s more than just a cake in my household; tres leches is a reminder of our wedding day in Mexico.

comes to tres leches there are some standards that must be met in order for it to pass my taste test.

My Chilango husband and I may have many differing opinions about life, work and sometimes even marriage, but we do agree on one thing: We love this traditional Mexican cake no matter which way you slice it.

• It needs to be sweet, but not sweet enough to give you a toothache (over-sweetening is often a telltale sign that the leches [milks] came pre-made in a store-bought mix, so I’ve learned from the experts).

I’ve eaten tres leches all over Chicago, from the neighborhood bakeries in Pilsen and Little Village to fancy restaurants downtown. If tres leches is on the menu, you can bet the check that’s what I’ll order for dessert. And actually, I think by now my husband is resigned to the fact that he is destined for a lifetime of tres leches tasting due to marrying me. Good thing he loves the cake as much as I do or I’d probably get left in a bakery somewhere in Pilsen.

• The top layer of the cake must be shaved off to properly absorb the milks, to keep the cake consistently soft and to avoid a burnt taste.

To learn more about the technical side of tres leches as part of my research, I recently spent some time with two Chicago experts: Laura Cid Perea, co-owner of Bombón Café, and Carlos Garza, sous chef at Carnivale. Laura grew up in Mexico’s Distrito Federal, and Carlos grew up in Jalisco before both eventually landed in Chicago’s culinary circle. Both agree that traditional methods of preparing the cake are essential, as well as quality ingredients and a lifelong understanding and appreciation for the dish. Though I’m pretty open-minded about a lot of things, when it


• The cake must be wet, but not soggy. When you take that first bite, you should be able to tell the cake is plenty moist but not overly so.

• It should have a light whipped cream frosting or no frosting at all. Not everybody has the same criteria that I do, but an informal survey of my Mexican friends and family members found a very similar set of standards. Both chefs agreed. The most important key to a good tres leches is for the cake to be moist, but not dripping wet with the milks. Laura uses evaporated, condensed and regular whole milk in her tres leches cakes. Carlos adds white chocolate to the milks. “Not everybody can make a good tres leches, though,” Laura cautioned. “Tres leches is something you have as a memory growing up, and learn to respect and appreciate — making it with love and memories makes it special.”


Bombón’s Celaya Cake: a caramel tres leches with toasted pecan. Here are the results of my tasting test. Bombón I always come back to Bombón. Though the traditional tres leches is my favorite, I’m also in love with its Café Tacuba tres leches, which has coffee and Kahlúa mixed in with the milks. It has a heavy focus on cakes and its staff is always knowledgeable and friendly. Bombón’s cakes are perfectly moist, and I’ve never had a soggy tres leches there. The quality is excellent and consistent each time I go there. Though its original Pilsen location was destroyed by fire in August 2008, Bombón already had another Pilsen location open at 18th and Allport streets and has since moved all of its Pilsen operations to the Bombón Galería del Pastel at 1238 W. 18th St. Neighborhoods: Little Village, Pilsen, West Loop, Loop and Gold Coast; $3.95 per individual serving

The Convento tres leches cake from Bombón is made with rompope. Kristoffer’s Café & Bakery I’d never been to Kristoffer’s, despite spending much of my time in Pilsen. Truthfully, I didn’t think a place with a name like Kristoffer’s fit in very well in Pilsen, but then I heard they had pastel de tres leches and chocoflan, and that Rick Bayless was a fan. (I respect anybody who serves chocoflan.) But, it pains me to say I wasn’t thrilled with my tres leches there after being referred by a Mexican foodie friend whose recommendations I usually love. The traditional version they serve is frosted with a chocolate frosting that is almost a ganache — strike one in my book. I prefer my tres leches bare, or with whipped cream-style frosting. Strike two: I could tell the top of the cake hadn’t been shaved off to absorb the milks. The particular piece I tasted had slightly overcooked cake, which I could tell because I could see the top of the cake was dark when I scraped the frosting off. The milks were done well, but the overcooked cake overpowered the flavor I was hoping for.

Carnivale I was so impressed with the tres leches at Carnivale while eating dinner with my husband, I asked to speak to the sous chef. Carlos Garza was a delight, and was generous with his time answering my questions about his cake. I found out that he adds a bit of white chocolate to the milks, which is a nice touch — you can’t tell it’s white chocolate just from eating the cake. The milks are sweet with the addition of the white chocolate, but not sugar coma-inducing. Also, Carnivale serves its tres leches topped with fresh, local, in-season fruit. The week I visited, it used blueberries plated with sweet basil crème to complement.

Neighborhood: Pilsen, 1733 S. Halsted St., Chicago; (312) 829-4150; $4.50 per slice

Neighborhood: West Loop, 702 W. Fulton Market, Chicago; (312) 850-3017; $7 per slice

Neighborhood: Pilsen, 2100 W. Cermak Road, Chicago; (773) 847-2824; $2.25 per slice

Silva’s Central Bakery I’ve been buying pan dulce from the family-owned Central Bakery for several years, and only recently have I tried their tres leches. I actually thought the milks in their cake were not quite sweet enough, though. The cake was good, but borderline soggy with the milks. Bottom line: You can’t beat the price if you just want a quick fix with one slice. 75

caféblend Xoco 449 N. Clark St., Chicago (312) 334-3688 restaurants/xoco.html Frontera Grill’s and Topolobampo’s little sister does not disappoint. Xoco’s focus is on Mexico’s street food, and its ambiance and menu recreates such Mexico City restaurants as Churrería El Moro. The churros are served with flecks of Mexican chocolate mixed with the sugar they were rolled in, which gives them a nice little extra flavor. But the real treat is the torta de cochinita pibil: wood-roasted suckling pig marinated in achiote, black beans, pickled onion and habanero on a bolillo.

Dig in! BYOB


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CENTRAL AMERICAN Irazú 1865 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago (773) 252-5687 Try the chicken casado, served with gallo pinto (rice and beans), sweet plantains, an over-easy egg and a cabbage salad. Big and delicious burritos and sandwiches also served. People swear by the oatmeal shakes. Pupusería Las Delicias 3300 W. Montrose Ave., Chicago (773) 267-5346 Variety of pupusas (stuffed cornmeal cakes toasted, not fried, on a flat griddle); the zucchini and cheese with tomatoes and onions is popular. Other flavors include chipilin (herb particular to El Salvador) and cheese, pescado (tilapia) and la revuelta (pork, chicken, cheese and beans).

Credit cards accepted

CUBAN 90 Miles Cuban Café 3101 N. Clybourn Ave., Chicago 2540 W. Armitage Ave., Chicago (773) 227-2822 This is Cuban sandwich heaven; from the medianoche, the traditional Cuban sandwich or even the timba (guava and Swiss cheese) and the restaurant’s own sandwich de lechón, your cravings will be fully satisfied. There are also more substantial plates on the menu like the ropa vieja.

Cafe 28 1800 W. Irving Park Rd., Chicago (773) 528-2883 Go for the “Taste of Cuba” appetizer. Leave some room for the ropa vieja, the arroz con pollo, the grilled shrimp quesadillas or the chipotle grilled chicken and green tamales in this intimate cafe.




Habana Libre 1440 W. Chicago Ave., Chicago (312) 243-3303 A popular choice is the combination appetizer, which includes croquetas (ham and cheese fried dumplings), yucca, tostones (twice-fried smashed green plantains), empanadas (meat-filled pastry) and papa rellena (potato filled with ground beef). For dessert, check out the flan de coco.

MEXICAN Cemitas Puebla 3619 W. North Avenue, Chicago (773) 772-8435 The cuisine of Puebla, Mexico, is this family-owned restaurant’s specialty, especially the cemitas, a sandwich that consists of sesame seed bread layered with avocado, your choice of meat, adobo chipotle peppers, fresh Oaxacan seed and papalo (Mexican cooking herb). There are a wide variety of mole dishes.

Chilam Balam 3023 N. Broadway St., Chicago (773) 296-6901 Chuy Valencia’s new restaurant may take its name from the actual Mayan 2012 prophecy, but its menu is anything but apocalyptic. Following his mentor Rick Bayless’ doctrine of using local, sustainable ingredients, Valencia has created a series of dishes that are meant to be shared. Offerings include: Grilled corn masa memelas topped with smokey black bean puree, goat cheese, arbol chile salsa and dressed greens; halibut ceviche tossed with red onion, cucumber, jicama, cilantro, habanero, avocado and tomato; and a soup of the day with seasonal garnishes.

Estrella Negra 2346 W. Fullerton Ave., Chicago (773) 227-5993, Mexico’s Day of the Dead is celebrated all year in this new addition to the Bucktown art and food scenes. Each table

RESTAURANTGUIDE carries a Day of the Dead motif created by local artists. The menu includes traditional entrees like tacos and tamales, as well as some unique spins on the same.   Mercadito 108 W. Kinzie St., Chicago (312) 329-9555 Located within a few blocks of Rick Bayless’ restaurant emporium, this spinoff of the New York City chain offers a taco-and-tequila combination. The menu features such stalwarts as ceviche, botanas and larger dishes from southern Mexico.

Mi Mexico 220 Milwaukee Ave., Buffalo Grove (847) 229-3491 From tacos to burritos, from margaritas to super nachos, this family-owned restaurant leaves no stone unturned when it comes to Mexican food. Try the sopa de albóndigas and the sopa siete mares as starters. The enchiladas divorciadas (meat, cream sauce, chipotle and green salsa) are also a good choice, as well as the spinach quesadillas and the steak Jalisco.

Rustico Grill 2515 N. California Ave., Chicago (773) 235-0002 This sibling to Lakeview’s Mixteco Grill offers such enticing delicacies as tamal de chile relleno (corn tamale filled with poblano chile stuffed with vegetables and Oaxaca cheese on top of roasted tomatillo salsa), tacos rústicos (soft homemade corn tortillas served with black beans, guacamole, poblano wedges and grilled green onions) and pescado a la veracruzana (wood-grilled mahimahi with capers, olives and pickled jalapeño).

NUEVO LATINO/ LATIN FUSION Cafe Con Leche Bucktown 1732 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago (773) 342-2233, www. Mexico, Puerto Rico and Cuba come together in this tiny Bucktown café. Dig into the chilaquiles for breakfast, the Cuban sandwiches or jibaritos for lunch and a wide variety of Mexican dishes for dinner.

La Pinta 25 Calendar Court, La Grange (708) 354-8100, Offers a variety of ceviches: shrimp, tilapia and salmon. Good chile relleno: poblano pepper stuffed with shrimp, scallops and gouda cheese on top of a bed of refried black beans covered in a chipotle coconut sauce.

SushiSamba Rio 504 N. Wells St., Chicago (312) 595-2300, International fusion of Japanese, American, Nuevo Latino and South American all rolled into one! El Topo, Samba Rio and Rainbow Dragon sushi rolls are crowd pleasers.

PUERTO RICAN Borinquen 1720 N. California Ave., Chicago (773) 227-6038 Home of the original jibarito sandwich (fried green plantains with meat, lettuce and tomato). Vegetarian options available. Homemade chicken noodle soup. All the classic frituras (fried treats): morcillas (blood sausage), alcapurrias (green plantain filled with ground beef), rellenos de papas (potato filled with ground beef), piononos (sweet plantain rolls stuffed with ground beef).

Tumbao Bar & Grill 3213 W. Armitage Ave., Chicago (773) 772-9800 Enjoy a wide variety of traditional Puerto Rican dishes, local comedians, live music and, some Monday nights, sports events in this large and rustic brick-walled spot on the West Side.   SOUTH AMERICAN Galapagos Cafe 3213 W Irving Park Rd., Chicago (773) 754-8265 The cultures of Ecuador and Japan join forces in this restaurant. Kick things off with their cheese empanadas or the llapingachos (thick fried mashed plaintain or potato cakes filled with cheese). Entrees include pescado encocado (fish cooked in coconut sauce) and the Galapagos fried rice, as well as a wide variety of sushis.

Macondo Colombian Coffee and Empanadas 2965 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago (773) 698-6867, Macondo should have added music to its long name. Besides empanadas and coffee, Macondo co-sponsors a variety of Latin and World Music events, some featuring the restaurant’s official band Grupo Rebolu. The empanadas are gluten-free and the restaurant promises to have up to a variety of six empanadas at one time. Macondo is the first Chicago establishment to offer Juan Valdez CafeReale, Colombia’s most-celebrated coffee.

Taste of Brasil 966 S. Oak Park Ave., Oak Park (708) 383-3350 This small suburban restaurant specializes in salgadinhos, small pastries that could very well be considered distant cousins of the Spanish and Cuban croquetas.

Try as many as you want: from the coxinhas de frango (chicken croquettes with onion and olives) to the risoles (croquettes filled with shrimp with tomato or beef with cream cheese).

SPANISH Arco de Cuchilleros 3445 N. Halsted St., Chicago (773) 296-6046 Great tapas that arrive at your table with perfect timing. Favorites include bacon-wrapped dates, smoked salmon with capers, fried eggplant with Spanish sausage, and mejillones en salsa verde (mussels in a white wine and cream sauce).

Eivissa 1531 N. Wells St., Chicago (312) 654-9500, After working for such popular Mexican restaurants as Adobo Grill and Xel-Ha, Mexican chef Dudley Nieto honors his father’s memory by taking over the kitchen of this new Spanish restaurant. The menu features such staples as the gambas al ajillo and the croquetas de jamón, as well as pintxos (the Basque version of tapas) and more experimental dishes that take advantage of modern molecular-gastronomy techniques. The dessert list features such mainstays as the crema catalana and the churros con chocolate.

Tapas Valencia 1530 S. State St., Chicago (312) 842-4444 If the name sounds familiar, that’s because it is: originally based in Bloomingdale, Tapas Valencia now moves to the South Loop to join that zone’s expanding restaurant scene. A sibling to Naperville’s Meson Sabika, Tapas Valencia will share its menu and executive chef. 77


Miguel Blanco and Yumelia García

Bill and Giuliana Rancic

Project Joffrey photos alBerto


The Women’s Board of the Joffrey Ballet celebrated their annual “Couture & Cocktails” event Sept. 25 at the Palmer House. The event provided guests an oportunity to meet the newest members of the Joffrey ensemble: Miguel Blanco, Yumilia García and Dylan Gutierrez. Attendees also enjoyed Pamella Roland’s 2010 spring runway collection.

Jae Miller and Marcus Riley

Danielle Peterfy, Dylan Gutierrez, Patrick Plante and Ashley Chan


Amanda Mestemacher and Nicolas Rodriguez

Vanessa Matuschaa and Nikki La Ha


Alex Cuba

Drummer Robert DiPietro

Bassist Robert Jost and Alex Cuba

MusiCUBA photos mitchell casey and Julieta r.


Alex Cuba, the Canada-based Cuban-funk-rocker celebrated the official release of his CD Agua Del Pozo on Oct. 7 at Rumba. Hailed as “the new face of Cuban soul”, concert promoters Ratio Live and Arte y Vida Chicago packed the house with fans and newcomers to Cuba’s unique sound.

Leo Suarez, Amor Montes de Oca, Alex Cuba, Gina Santana and Rick Morales

Milly Santiago and Raul Osacky

LuckyCharm photos Jillian


Café readers went to the pick-up party for our September/October edition at the Harrah’s Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, Indiana, Aug. 28 expecting a night of fun and relaxation and left with big fat wallets.

Brian Millhouse and Lee Farmer

Arturo DeLeon, Susy Campos, Freddy Baez, Cindy Quijano, Elizabeth Quintana and Rosa Buscos Lopez

Jose and Delia Deavila

Robert Gardner and Milton Rodriguez

Guia Rivera, Vanessa Hill and Darleen Deocariza 79




here was never enough money in our family, although you would never know it by the way my mother kept all of us fed. Whether it was chorizo or a guisado con chile, there was always a good smell coming out of our kitchen. Still, I valued the store-bought treats that I purchased with the loose change I found between the sofa cushions or the coins that the grocer dropped in my hands when I returned a wagonload of glass bottles to the supermarket. I would run home with my bounty, dizzy with the thought that it would be all mine to enjoy. But inevitably when I returned, I would find myself surrounded by the open hands of others, eager to share whatever it was that I had in the paper bag that I carried. My first impulse was to run and hide. Then, I would remember my mother’s gentle admonishments whenever I strayed from “our way”’ and was insensitive to the desires or needs of others: “Donde come uno, comen dos.” (“Where one eats, two can eat.”) Today, when I hear someone reinforce this lesson to little ones, I am reminded of the bonds that unite us across time. – Leonard Ramirez, Chicago

Log on to to submit your “A mí me enseñaron” stories. The best story submitted and published by December 2009 will win two roundtrip Southwest Airlines tickets.



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