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acceptance Multicultural


Latino Lifestyle Magazine


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No09 February | March 2010







diverse Latino identity culture

Multi cultural


Children of mixed marriages define their own identity

Black ethnic Other Spanish

identity heritage


BlackTino diverse Roots



Black Brown Latino Click Here For Love

Census: To Count Or Not To Count?

CuCu Diamantes Is A Girl’s Best Friend


A reward that brings the whole family together to watch the novela. Or is it the game?

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Latino Lifestyle Magazine


Other SpaniSh

identity heritage


Black Brown Latino Click Here For Love CAFE09_COV1.indd 1


Census: To Count Or Not To Count?

CuCu Diamantes Is A Girl’s Best Friend 1/20/10 11:51 AM

| illustration alberto treviño |


No09 February | March 10



Latino LifestyLe Magazine


rOOTS The children of Latino and African American mixed marriages


Latino LifestyLe Magazine



aFrOrooTS bicultural

acceptance Children of Latino and African

American mixed marriages SpaniSh Brown racism



bicultural Census: To Count? Cucu Diamantes Is Or Not To Count? A Girl’s Best Friend


biracial Brown


Click Here For Love

No09 February | March 10

Latino Rock Bands Cross a New Border

No09 February | March 10




define their own identity ethnic Black

< Cover Me Cover concept Marilia Gutierrez and alBerto Treviño.

CuCu Diamantes and Andres Levin, Latin Alternative’s power couple. words Alejandro Riera


Multi cultural

diverse Children of mixed marriages





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

More Latinos are looking for love online, but is it really worth it? words Marla Seidell




blackTino Roots






acceptance Multicultural

Latino LifestyLe Magazine

No09 February | March 2010




biracial Black










diverse Latino identity culture



| photo lynda guillu |

One family discovers the challenges of maintaining a tradition. words Gloria Elena Alicea



Dulcemaría Ramirez decided to break with tradition by wearing a white dress for her quinceañera. Page 50

quinceañera headache



The children of interracial marriages come to terms with their identity. words Randi Belisomo Hernández



black or latino?




Latino LifestyLe Magazine


LATiNo LiFe El il et dis et ulla quatur Nist, sites exceaquics consed que volorro que ulla quatur nist

ethnic diverse


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

We believe everything you receive should

bring cheer.

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Editor’s Note Contributors Dear Café

Café Espresso Somos ¿sabías que? The Buzz sinvergüenza upgrade la plaza MI GENTE comunidad diversions

Sadie Woods Cultural factoids Must attend events Love, a serious disease Valentine’s Day gift ideas Boycott the census? Born into Santería Chicago’s Guardian Angels The proper coffee education

Café Filter MI carro 34 con gusto 36 money matters 38 get ahead 40 familia

How to pamper your car A taste for aphrodisiacs Pay your taxes or else Latino Millenials take over Multigenerational clashes

Café grande profile




Readers feedback

13 14 15 16 18 20 22 24 26 31

African statue from babalao Yuanl Larrondo’s home. Page 22 | photo alberto treviño |

Alejandro Riera

Paul Zavala, the Spice Man

Café blend MUST DO Angel Otero’s rising star todo tosí Calendar of events dining Empanadas and more restaurant guide A list of Latino eateries Scene at Latino social scene A mí Me enseñaron Se lo perdieron…

69 72 74 76 78 80

We work hard to help you. Thanks for noticing. Helping customers is what we do. Maybe that’s why we’re ranked “Highest in the Midwest for Customer Satisfaction in Retail Banking in a Tie” by J. D. Power and Associates. If you’d like us to work hard helping you, stop in or visit us at

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

Who am I? It is an unavoidable question for many Latinos born and raised in the United States, particularly for those born in a multicultural, multiracial and even multinational family. It is Alejandro Riera also a question that Latinos born in Latin America to parents of foreign lands ask themselves at some point in their lives. The answer helps define their personal identity in the long run. Yes, there is a global Latino identity. But our individual identities are much more fluid, the product not only of our family life, but also of the relationships developed outside that family circle and by our experiences. And yet, sometimes, those born in multiracial, multicultural families feel the pressure of choosing one culture over another. For Black Latinos — whether born in the United States of an African-American and Latino marriage or who have migrated from Latin America — that pressure to choose one culture over another may be stronger. And yet, a new generation of Latinos born in this country have embraced aspects of African-American culture and added what jazz musician Jelly Roll Morton defined as that “Latin tinge” to the same. We want to contribute to this conversation. And what better way to foster this dialogue than during Black History Month. In this issue, five “blacktino” families open their doors to us to share their experiences in defining culture and identity for themselves and their children. Our cover story also explores how some black Latinos are even building a bridge between both communities through their cultural and educational activism. I end this column on a sad note. As we were putting this edition to bed, we received news of the untimely passing of our friend and contributor Carlos Hernández Gómez (left). Carlitos valiantly fought his cancer for well over a year. Just a few days before he died, he called to inform me that the doctors at Northwestern Memorial Hospital had only given him months to live and that he wanted to write something for us before the inevitable final call. Alas, that day did not come. He was only 36 years old.

editor’s note

Carlitos was proud of his Puerto Rican heritage and identity. He was also a true Chicagoan, as tough in his line of questioning when covering a story as any of the old, and not so old, school reporters who walked up and down the streets of this city. He ate, breathed and bled journalism. He could have been our Mike Royko, our John Callaway. Carlitos now stands next to them, a true legend, gone too soon. On behald of Café Media, I wish to express my condolences to his wife Randi Belisomo Hernández and his family.



Gloria Elena Alicea Café welcomes back to our pages the talented Gloria Elena, who has been very busy this past year working in the not-for-profit sector. A communications professional and freelance writer who is branching out into writing fiction, Gloria Elena’s writing has appeared in numerous publications. She once received a call from Oprah complimenting her for an op-ed article featured in the Chicago Tribune. Her wish for 2010 is to have more time to write.

The CONTRIBUTORS Sue Ter Maat A Chicago-based writer, Sue Ter Maat’s work has won awards and honorable mentions from the Chicago Journalists Association, Northern Illinois Newspaper Association, Illinois Association of Park Districts and the Chicago Headline Club. She’s currently on the board of directors of the Chicago Journalists Association. Robbie Lee Born and raised in Philadelphia, Robbie earned a dual degree at the University of Pennsylvania: BA in History and a BA in “Sneaking into the darkroom and borrowing every piece of equipment the school owned.” After finishing his studies, he grabbed a backpack and hit the road for two solid years, eventually ending up in San Francisco. After one year, he packed it all and headed back to New York City, where he resides today. You can find him playing soccer when he is not taking photos. He would play every day, if possible, maybe twice a day. Marta García Cuban-American, Chicago-based photographer Marta García has been taking pictures for over 15 years. Fueled by the protests and devastation in her hometown of Miami during the plight of the Cuban balseros, Marta began to photograph history in the streets of Miami. Shortly after moving to Chicago, she attended Columbia College to study photography. Her journey has allowed her to photograph a vast array of subjects, from factory floors to political protests, from the plight of an undocumented worker to leaders of the free world. Spreading awareness and compassion through her work is her main goal.

President Julián G. Posada Editorial

Café media Advisors

Editor-in-Chief Managing Editor Copy Editors

Martin Castro, George De Lama, david hutchinson,

Alejandro Riera marilia t. gutiérrez Marie Joyce Garcia Chris MALCOLM DarHiana Mateo Proofreader Vera Napoleon Editorial Assistant CHRISTINA E. RODRíGUEZ Editorial Interns WENDY MONCADA ELISA SANTANA

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


Art Director Graphic Designers

Graphic Design Interns Web Development

alberto treviÑo wendy melgar judd ortiz diana jurado james cicenia


Chief Operating Officer john woolney Financial Analyst chrissy koob Circulation Manager bill loster Circulation Assistant maría lourdes ramos IT Manager Jorge Jiménez

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

marketing Business Development Director MITCHell POSADA Marketing & Communications Director Gina Santana Marketing Coordinators freddie baez Marketing & PR Liaison gardenia rangel Digital Marketing Coordinator christina merced Digital Marketing Intern cristina beltrán

West Coast Sales Southeast Coast Sales Northeast Coast Sales

Ian Larkin, William Mckenna, thomas mcdonald, SUSAN SNOWDEN Acknowledgements

diana fujimura

Roujay Vargas

DJ Nica Luis Calero jose jara Fandango ted j. hong HighSight melinda green Latin Pulse Music michael p. lazarus Lopez CPA enrique lopez Macondo Leo Suarez Maranon Capital Jana Gardella Mundo Redit carlos reyes NBC 5 Chicago Steve Bryant

Lora Johnson-Lesage

CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Elia l. Alamillo, julieta alvarez, abel arciniega, mitchell casey, stacie freudenberg, marta garcia, lynda guillú, robbie lee, gina santana, jillian sipkins, karthik sudhir, anthony tahlier, alberto treviño

don macica

Luis Rosado

contributing writers gloria elena alicea, randi belisomo hernández, christina chavez weitman, joel frieders, angélica herrera, DARHIANA MATEO, benjamin ortiz, michael puente, isabel resendiz, marla seidell, sue ter maat

Chicago Sinfonietta Diageo

sales Manager isis Gonzalez Manager GINA TINOCO Manager tracy wasicek

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 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

CONTRIBUTING Stylists and Models Model rocio amber servillon Food Stylist christina chavez weitman

chris peÑA


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



edgar castaÑEDA

marcos castañeda

stock photos STOCK.XCHNG, ISTOCKPHOTO, real Latino Images

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

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Café magazine is printed on paper sourced from companies that practice sustainable forest management.

Please Recycle This Magazine. Remove inserts before recycling.



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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. A Difficult Process

Thank you for addressing the problem of HIV in the Latino community in your article (“Victims of Life on the Down-Low,” Nov./Dec.). I was disappointed that your article did not dwelve more deeply into the issue of homophobia in our community, which I believe is the root cause of “down-low” behavior. In my 20 years of practicing medicine I have treated many gay Latino men, some out and some still in the closet. I have learned that the process of coming out as a gay Latino is often difficult and frightening, sometimes to the point of causing physical and psychological illness. Despite some recent strides, Latino society and mainstream culture continue to revile and ridicule gay men, and our religious leaders loudly condemn homosexuality. All over Latin America and the U.S., being gay can get you kicked out of the house, fired from your job — or killed. ViCTiMs OF ThE Down-Low Institutionalized homophobia, and the selfhatred that it creates, is what drives men into the closet and keeps them hiding there. We Zambrano g can certainly blame the individual for his Hears His Callin Latino Rock Bands lies, but we have to blame ourselves as well r Cross a New Borde if we continue to allow our Latino culture Frosty Looks That Will Keep You Warm to vilify gay men as less than human…I hope that you encourage the Chicago Latino community to support programs like Project Vida’s “The CRU” in La Villita, which encourages young men to develop self-esteem while exploring their sexual identity ( Sara Vazquez, MD, Tucson AZ No08 NOVEMBER


Magazine Latino LifestyLe

10/15/09 5:12 PM



Appearances Can Be Deceiving

I love this story (“Religious Righty,” Nov./Dec.). I found out that Zambrano is a very nice person. He looks very rude on the field. I would like to see more of these stories. All we see and read about Hispanics are bad things. This brings a new perspective on the Hispanic community. Rosa Perez (posted online) What’s the Community To Do?

I was privileged to do business with Second Federal Savings (“Can Second Federal Savings Survive,” Nov./Dec.) for more than ten years, specifically serving the Mexican community of Little Village and surrounding areas in the business of foreign money remittances. I also served other Mexican communities throughout the entire United States. Clearly, to me, Little Village is distinguished as one of the foremost Mexican communities in America, and members of this community know that Second Federal is as much a part of their community as any one business or institution in town…It is important that influential individuals and businesses

10 Café FEBRUARY | MARCH 2010

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in Little Village and surrounding communities see to it, to the full extent of their collective power, that a Latino majority exists on the Board of Directors of Second Federal Savings. Time is of the essence. The community at large must now endeavor to save the institution that has fostered business and prosperity so well for so long in their neighborhoods. Scott A. Rosenbaum (posted online) Support Your Local Bookstore

Yes, IMIX (“Against All Odds,” published exclusively on is a fabulous bookstore, the very blueprint to the dream of owning and running your own business. But it is so important that beyond the accolades, we continue to support and spend money at this and other independent stores. These stores don’t lay off [people] or cut back on advertising when times get tough, these stores shut down. In the past two years we have seen family favorites fall in the battle for commercial lisa Garcia equity. I don’t want IMIX to bite the [Eph at IM IX Boo oto nata kstore lya nala dora ] dust. I know that I can go to Borders, but I also know that there has to be an option for people that want to do the right thing and don’t mind spending just a teeny tiny bit more. Carmelita Ramirez-Sanchez (posted online) IMIX is absolutely an asset to the community of Eagle Rock, California, and its surrounding communities, as well. We NEED to support indie spaces like this! We have already seen others close and it would be a shame to see this happen again. Together we can help keep places like this alive. Myra Vasquez (posted online) I love IMIX and understand the struggles of having an independent bookstore. After we closed our 33 1/3 Books (bookstore/ gallery/local craft store), IMIX opened its doors to me and I was able to showcase and sell my work. It is so important to support stores that not only provide valuable information but that also understand the importance of building community with all who enter through their doors. Araceli Silva (posted online) Send your comments to or post them at You can also leave your comments on our Facebook fan page 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.

3/6/09 4:34 PM brings




25 @ 8PM

The Pulse of Chicago

If you are an artist interested in performing or are interested in more information about our show:


artdepartment Somos

Sadie Woods

31, Freelance Curator and DJ photo

alBerto TreviĂąo

What's the best part of being a curator? Traveling, artistic and cultural exchange. Experimenting with relationships to space. Living in an age where traditional and marginal curatorial practices are questioning and creating new possibilities. What's your favorite music to spin as a DJ? My musical taste is quite varied. I'm certainly not a genre purist. I feel it's important to focus on quality of music more than quantity in this respect. So, I choose the best selections from a wide spectrum of genres and artists. Coolest piece of art you've seen? I am a fan of street art and children's work as much as I am a fan of avant-garde and modern contemporary art, performances and happenings. I definitely have a soft spot for typography, graphic and functional design. What's your favorite non-arts thing to do? I'm partially a foodie, a little earthy-crunchy and fascinated by mysterious things. So, any activity where I can indulge in dining, holistic or esoteric experiences is time well spent. What's up with your hair? My hair has been the topic of many conversations. I've had complete strangers tell me they want their children to look like me. I've been asked if it was a wig, if there is a secret to maintaining the style. The biggest craze has been being compared to or mistaken for Macy Gray. Does your Latinidad play a role at work? I felt alienated most of my adolescent years from peers and sometimes family who defined who they were based on race. As I got older, I began to identify more with the people in my life and appreciated being afro-Latina. This experience has allowed me to embrace cultural pursuits. It has also led me to question and define for myself what it means to be an American. How do you take your cafĂŠ? Black/espresso with a lemon peel twist. For more of this interview, visit 13


¿SabíasQue? Afro-Brazilian Break Dancing Looking to fulfill your New Year’s resolution to lose weight? A Capoeira fitness program may be just what you need. The once outlawed Afro-Brazilian dance has become an international phenomenon, especially among break dancers. Capoeira has come a long way from its colonial origins as a ritual expression to resist oppression that lifted spirits among the Congo, Bantu and Angolan slaves living in Brazil more than 500 years ago. It’s considered a dance, a martial art and, to some, a way of life that represents the blend of race and history of Brazilians. Black Caribs If you’ve visited Central America’s Atlantic coast or the island of Roatan in Honduras, you’re acquainted with the musically infused culture of the Garifuna people. Now recognized as an ethnic group, the Garifuna were born out of love and war between the native Arawak and Carib peoples and the West African slaves who arrived on St. Vincent island in the 1630s. Today, the largest populations of Garifuna are found in New York and Los Angeles among Hondurans, Guatemalans and Belizeans. The Garifuna are known to stay true to their dialect, religious and cultural rituals, and music and dance (punta). Offensive Definition The commonly accepted definition of the term mulato refers to the offspring of a white parent and a black parent. But why is it that some black Latinos will scowl at you if you refer to them as mulato? It’s probably because the term is rooted in the Latin word mulus or mule. The term was first used by the Spanish and Portuguese to refer to “small mules,” which is why in many countries the word can be considered a pejorative.  

Arroz con Gandules for the Soul If you know someone from Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic, you’ve probably asked your friend to make some arroz con gandules. And if you haven’t, then you should — the flavorful rice-and-pigeon peas dish is as much a product of cultural intermingling as, well, rice and beans. This culinary concoction blends Spanish, African and Taino Indian cooking traditions. Gandules are said to have originated in Africa, and may have been brought to the New World by African slaves. In fact, pigeon peas have been discovered in Egyptian tombs dating back more than 3,000 years. Therefore, we owe our African and Arab ancestors for blessing Caribbean cuisine with this deliciously tiny green pea. Black Latinos Incognito Some celebrities embrace their mixed heritage and others jump through publicity stunts and media fights to hide it, but here are two famous names that might have escaped your racial radar. You may recognize Tatyana Ali as Will Smith’s younger cousin in the ’90’s television hit “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” or as an R&B singer. What you probably don’t know about her is that she is the offspring of an Afro-Panamanian mother and an Indo-Trinidadian father. And if you are an old-school, Rat Pack-loving Sammy Davis Jr. fan, then you might already know that the entertainer was the son of two vaudeville stars: Sammy Davis Sr. and Elvera “Baby” Sanchez. Sources:,,,,,,, www.nass.usda. com,,, www.

14 Café FEBRUARY | MARCH 2010


“The Wolfman”

“Alice in Wonderland”


Claudia Garcia THEBUZZ

Alondra de la Parra

Winner of the Dare to Explore Culinary Travel Adventure, where you will experience the flavors of the famed culinary region of Oaxaca, Mexico on a guided, gourmet tour

BENICIO DEL LOBO Enough with the hunky vampires and werewolves! The time has come for these creatures to reclaim their nightmarish dignity. “The Wolfman” (Feb. 12) is a remake of the classic 1941 Universal horror film starring Lon Chaney, Jr. In this new version, Laurence Talbot (Benicio Del Toro) returns to his ancestral homeland looking for his brother to suddenly find himself howling at the moon. GOTHS IN WONDERLAND We have also been looking forward to Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland” (March 5) ever since the first images of Johnny Depp as The Mad Hatter were made public. But do not expect a new adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s two classic novels (“Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking-Glass”). Burton brings his gothic sensibility to what really is a “what if” scenario: what if a teenage Alice visited Wonderland years after her original visit and discovers that the fate of this bizarre world is in her hands? Info and trailers at MUSIC TO OUR EARS The appointment of Gustavo Dudamel as music director and conductor of the Los Angeles Philarmonic, the groundbreaking work of Argentine composer Gustavo Dudamel and festivals like Chicago’s Latino Music Festival have finally helped put Latin classical music in the spotlight. That spotlight will shine even brighter on March 28 and 29, when the Chicago Sinfonietta presents “Las Américas,” featuring the Chicago debut of Mexican conductor Alondra de la Parra, founder and artistic director of New York’s Philarmonic Orchestra of the Americas, de la Parra has performed alongside Plácido Domingo. The concerts will take place at Dominican University’s Lund Auditorium (Mar. 28) and Symphony Center (Mar. 29). Tickets at 15


Love, sinvergüenza style “Love is a serious mental disease” Plato


Considering that the above quote resonates, nay, drips with utter truth, we must stand wary of sinvergüenzas who bring, in unmarked Tupperware containers, their particularly foul “mental diseases” to the already overflowing buffet line of love, dating and relationships.

Luckily for you, the doctor is in. So, hop on the exam table.... Whoa, whoa now, put your clothes back on. That’s not at all what I meant and you know it. People often say, “But, Guapo, you wouldn’t understand my problems. You’re so perfect in every way that you can’t possibly appreciate how complex this love business is for us, average folks. Love is surely thrown at your feet — fights to the death breaking out for a flash of that infectious smile.” And so, in response, I stand here awkwardly because, hey, it’s an excellent point. The logic is inescapable. However, let’s give it a shot anyway. Therefore, shake me fiercely, for I am your love life’s magic eight ball. (Watch out, the previous sentence is also a tried and true sinvergüenza pick up line.) Love it or leave it. El Guapo answers your most pressing love questions: DEAR EL GUAPO: Throughout my dating years, my choice in men has been questionable, to say the least. Things usually start off great and predictably turn sour very early in the relationship. So, how does someone know if they’re dating, doting on or married to a sinvergüenza? —Perplexed in Palo Alto

ing good can come of it. Nothing. Also, is he penciling in your dates between appointments with his parole officer and his many court dates for his backed up child support? Does he ask you to blow his court-mandated breathalyzer so that he can start his car? If any of these apply, he also may not be a keeper.

GUAPO: Well, Perplexed, there are a few telltale signs that might set off an alarm or two, but the most important thing to remember is: sinvergüenzas overwhelmingly have had their perceptions of love and romance shaped by daytime television. Why this is so is unclear. Sit with him and watch Maury. When the results of the paternity test are announced, watch him carefully. If he looks too relieved or even angry when the announcement is made, you might want to slowly, casually grab your purse, run like hell and not look back. He’s clearly had a moment like that before. Also, if the gentleman in question speaks like he stepped out of General Hospital — including using anything resembling a steely-eyed gaze, you might also circle the wagons, because the sinvergüenza stink is on him. Noth-

DEAR EL GUAPO: I broke up with my girl before the holidays to avoid having to get her a gift. If I do it again for Valentine’s Day, she’ll catch on. So, how do I go about romancing a lady on a budget, man? — Cheap-o in Chicago

16 Café FEBRUARY | MARCH 2010

GUAPO: Cheap-o, while rose pedals, perfume and chocolate are Valentine’s Day staples, there is a simple approach that a brazen sinvergüenza like yourself can use to save a couple of bucks and still come out smelling like a rose. First, buy a small blue box from Tiffany — only the box. Next, step on it. Finally, come home to the lady and explain how a burly man with a gun took

her very expensive and very tasteful gift from Tiffany — which was obviously inside the box. You will get pity and credit for a great gift…All without spending a dime. Everyone wins. DEAR EL GUAPO: I like sex. That’s it. —Brevity in Berwyn GUAPO: Brevity, that’s not really a question, but we’d be remiss if we forgot to mention that sinvergüenzas are notorious scoundrels. To leave them responsible for anything important in a relationship is ill-advised. Therefore, be forewarned that safe sex for a sinvergüenza entails re-corking the box of wine and moving amorous acts over to the plastic–covered couch. (The plastic-covered couch is another signature sinvergüenza warning sign.)

Next Time on Café Café Magazine goes green for a second year in a row. Join us as we once again explore how Latinos are making a difference in fighting global warming and promoting a sustainable life. A nationwide look at the top Latino green activists.

Jonah Silva, chef for Blind Faith restaurant, is a master of the convection oven and the idea of maintaining a green kitchen. He’ll share his secrets with us.

A new LA-based website that takes a holistic approach at the concept of sustainable living.

The cities with the best bicycle culture. How do they promote cycling as an alternative mode of transportation? What policies are in place to ensure a biker’s safety in the cities’ main thoroughfares?

A profile of The Dill Pickle Food Co-op, a new communityowned grocery store in the Chicago neighborhood of Logan Square that fully supports the green movement by carrying locally grown organic products.



Monthly indulgence

If you’re shopping for a chocolate lover, the Godiva’s Chocolate of the Month Club ensures that your loved one gets a delicious dose of chocolate every month. Some of the items include brownies, truffles, caramel gems, chocolate and cocoa samplers and macaroons. Yumm... should we go on? There’s really no going wrong with this gift, as many chocolate lovers will attest. (From $170,

Handy and trendy For a lady, nothing says “I love you” like picturing her significant other at the store, trying to find the perfect purse for her. Fossil’s FiftyFour Whitney Hobo features braided handles and smooth hardware. Its various finishes of leather make it an adventure in texture. ($225,

Pamper and Spoil Her

Style & Spa brings relaxation to your loved one with the Serenity Spa Package, that includes: Exfoliating Enzyme Scrub, Firming Body Lotion with Marine Minerals, Peppermint Foot Therapy, Hydrating Crème Concentrate for Body, Serenity Pedi-Foot Scrub Buffer and a Serenity Wave Pillar Candle, all in a black or silver elegant gift bag. ($25,

18 Café FEBRUARY | MARCH 2010

Beautiful and Convenient

The Armitron Now Women’s Bangle Watch is the perfect accessory for a night out. Its feminine and sophisticated design would make a perfect addition to any woman’s jewelry box. The Armitron Bangle watch features adjustable links, clasp and extender, making it a perfect fit in every sense of the word. ($45-$60, available at JCPenney stores and


forhim Long-lasting scent

What woman doesn’t want her man to smell good? Play by Givenchy is a fragrance that features Caribbean Amyris wood, bargamot and patchouli to create a manly scent. He will surely get a kick out of the mp3 player shaped bottle. ($71-$76, Sephora)

Modern Love Gift ideas that meet Cupid’s approval

Valentine’s Day is the lone highlight in the cold months before spring arrives. So, why not go all out? If you’re tired of the same ol’ dinner and flowers, this year we suggest you give your present a unique twist. Surprise your loved one with something thoughtful and unexpected.

Homer is your co-pilot

Style your guy

Get your directions dictated to you by Homer J. Simpson with TomTom’s new feature available on their GPS devices. Available for download online if you’re already a TomTom GPS owner. ($12.95,

Women agree hair is the first thing they notice on a man. The AXE line includes shampoos, conditioner and styling products, such as pomades, hair putty, paste and creams. Pick up a few, throw them in a cute basket and make a gift of it. (Starting at $4.84, Target) 19


Immigration activist Margaret Carrasco, of Waukegan, Ill, supports a boycott of the 2010 census.

Counting Shadows The census effort is poised to become Ground Zero in the battle for immigration reform words

20 Café FEBRUARY | MARCH 2010

Michael Puente photo Marta García


Ten years ago, the Latino population hit a milestone by becoming the largest minority group in the United States. Since hitting that 35.6 million mark, the Latino population has surged past 44 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That number is expected to increase, but if Margaret Carrasco has her way, it won’t go up as much as others would like it to — which could mean millions lost in tax dollars to municipalities and perhaps diminished representation in Congress for certain areas of the country. Carrasco supports a boycott of the 2010 census count by undocumented Latino immigrants in an effort to pressure President Barack Obama and Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform. She’s helping to arrange local efforts to undermine the work of Latino groups who are partnering with the Census Bureau to count as many Latinos as possible, whether they’re citizens, legally resident non-U.S. citizens or undocumented immigrants. “I’m not against the purpose of the census. I understand it,” says the 50-year-old immigration-reform activist from Waukegan. “We know what the implications are, but we want to bring attention to the ramifications on our community and how families are being destroyed” by the lack of a comprehensive immigration reform. The Constitution requires the U.S. population be counted every 10 years.  “Census data is used to determine how to distribute $400 billion in federal funding all across the country,” says Raul E. Cisneros, chief of the 2010 publicity office of the U.S. Census Bureau. “Distribution is based on population.” In 2000, census forms were printed in 17 languages. This year, they have been printed in 20 languages, Spanish among them. On January, the bureau launched an effort to build participation in the Latino community. Cisneros says the census form consists of 10 questions and does not ask for bank account numbers, Social Security numbers or immigration status. He says data on census forms is not shared with other agencies of the U.S. government.  “All data is protected by laws, very strict laws,” Cisneros says. Census data also helps draw up congressional maps, meaning some areas of the country with population gains could gain seats in Congress, while others may lose out

if population diminishes or doesn’t keep pace with other areas. The overall importance and influence that census data holds is why some Latino groups feel the call for a boycott is reckless and undermines efforts to improve the lives of undocumented immigrants. “Those calls for a boycott are immoral and irresponsible. Making sure that every immigrant is counted will not only help our nation, but it is vital to the future wellbeing of the immigrant community itself,” says Rosalind Gold, senior director of policy, research and advocacy for the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO). Gold, whose group is based in Los Angeles, says census data is used to distribute federal funding to programs that assist immigrant communities, including new schools, adult education, health care, public safety and transportation. “These are all issues that affect immigrants and their families,” Gold says. “If immigrants aren’t counted, their communities are not going to get the fair share of resources they need to address these issues. If immigrants want to build better lives for themselves and their families, it’s very important that they be counted.” Gold says the call to boycott the census is coming from a small minority within the Latino community. Small or not, the Rev. Miguel Rivera is determined to build support for the boycott. He says undocumented immigrants won’t benefit by participating. “It is immoral to ask the 12 million undocumented immigrants to come and step out of the shadows just to be counted, to use their numbers to get more money for the cities [from] which they are not benefiting equitably,” says Rivera, chairman of the Washington, D.C.-based National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders, which represents more than 20,000 Hispanic Christian churches and faith-based ministries in 34 states. Rivera sees the boycott as a pastoral obligation. He also believes participation by undocumented immigrants can actually work against them.

“It is very dishonest and very immoral for the people from NALEO and the [Census Bureau] not to even realize that [...] the census has been used against undocumented immigrants,” Rivera says. “The additional funding a community would receive because illegal immigrants are counted could be used against them by hiring of more police officers and getting more prisons built to have them arrested and jailed.” Like Carrasco, Rivera says he feels Obama betrayed the community by not pushing through Congress comprehensive immigration reform in his first year in office, as he says the president promised. Rivera says Congress must agree to give “some type of legalization” and/or a “temporary protective status” for every undocumented immigrant, along with a permit to work in the United States, before the boycott is called off.  Rivera says U.S. citizenship for undocumented immigrants does not have to be included in the reform. He says reform needs to “give undocumented immigrants a chance to get out of the shadows, get a worker’s visa, learn the [English] language and start dealing with all the issues they need to deal with, including paying taxes.” “If Congress complies with the promise, then we will have an excellent census count,” he says. “If not, it’s going to be a disaster, I can assure you.” Cook County Commissioner Edwin Reyes says such a boycott will hurt the city of Chicago, the state of Illinois and Latinos in general.  “We’re talking about millions and millions of dollars that would go to help service schools, hospitals, roads, bridges and job training. Latinos need to be on the receiving side of those entities. And we’re trying to get more representation of Latinos in Congress,” Reyes says. “So the boycotters would literally be hurting themselves.”  Census spokesman Cisneros isn’t interested in getting into a debate with boycott organizers. His main concern is getting the census going and processed by the bureau’s deadine of Dec. 31, 2010.  “It’s a challenge and we’re going to work at it,” Cisneros says. “We’re going to be very busy this year.” 21

caféespresso | gente

the son of yemayá Santería is a very personal religion to Cuban babalao Yuanl Larrondo and his Mexican wife Rosie words

Christina E. Rodríguez photos alBerto Treviño

ABOVE: Some of the orishas used by Yuanl Larrondo in his consultations.

22 Café FEBRUARY | MARCH 2010

Yuanl Larrondo, 31, comes up from his home basement holding jars, pots and stone sculptures. As he lays them on the wooden floor, he moves them around and goes back downstairs for more. His wife Rosie, 43, joins him and helps situate them on the floor. There are even more in the basement. Some of them are covered with decorative cloths. These are orishas, saints in the santería religion, which Larrondo, a babalao or high priest, uses in his practice and consultations with his clients.

Santería, which means “the way of the saints,” is a religion with a foundation in African traditions that were brought to the New World by West African slaves. It developed out of the mix of the Yoruba religion and Catholicism. In santería, the African deities and the Catholic saints combine to create a syncretistic form of worship that is practiced primarily in Cuba and Brazil. Born in Cuba, Larrondo’s religious beliefs were instilled in him at a very young age by his grandfather, a babalao. His father was also a babalao and his mother was initiated as a santera as well. Santeros believe in one almighty God, Olofi, but under him there is a hierarchy of many other orishas. Among the multitude of saints there are only seven orishas that can be placed in a person’s head, or crowned. The main saints are called the “Siete Potencias,” or the seven empowering orishas. They are Obatalá, head orisha (syncretized with Our Lady of Mercy); Elegguá, holder of the key to a person’s future, also allows communication between the human and spiritual worlds (Holy Child of Atocha); Changó, lord of thunder and the epitome of manly beauty (Saint Barbara); Yemayá, queen of the oceans and mother goddess of all orishas (Our Lady of Regla); Oshún, queen of rivers, epitomizes female beauty and sensuality (Our Lady of Charity); Ogún, lord of iron, identified with war (Saint Peter); and Oyá, ruler of storms and winds, lives at the gates of cemeteries (Our Lady of Candlemas). Larrondo’s first memories of santería were of waking up for breakfast as a child and finding that people from the community would come to his home to consult his grandfather. He also remembers how his grandfather would recite things in the Yoruba language. “He taught me the importance of wisdom and knowledge,” says Larrondo. “That’s how I was [supposed] to help myself and others.” Once initiated, a santero becomes the “son” or “daughter” of one or more saints. It takes years to ascend the different ranks within santería in order to become a babalao. Larrondo, the son of Yemayá, became a babalao through a process called ifá, in which the orisha is invoked into the soul. “To be a babalao is one of the biggest things for a person to have in the world,” he adds. “Especially to be able to help people and help them find happiness.” He says that santería is a form of protection for practitioners and he blames the misconceptions many people have about the religion on the

Chicago resident Yuanl Larrondo comes from a long line of santeros and babalaos.

media and movies. “This religion isn’t based on black magic,” he says. “[God] gave us, the black people, this religion as protection… against the Spanish, against mistreatment. This was the only defense blacks had for centuries. It [helped them] escape the problems they had.” Rosie, who is of Mexican descent and daughter of Obatalá, was raised in the Catholic faith and became initiated into santería in 2005. Her curiosity stemmed from a consultation that her sister had with a babalao. Beneath the coffee table in their living room lies a large white Bible. “I have a Bible because I was born and raised as a Catholic and the santería religion synchronizes the African roots and the culture with the Catholic faith,” she explains. This may be true, but the Catholic Church does not recognize santería as a religion, according to the “The Vatican warns the faithful against all forms of ‘divination,’ which is defined broadly and includes many of the rites inherent to santería,” states the site. Santería is a very personal religion to the Larrondos. They see it as a form of resolution. “Since this is a religion, the first [thing we] do is analyze your life and your situations at the present time. It could be a sickness, marriage problems, or it can be anything else that’s in your life. So we try to find the solution to your problems,” says Larrondo. “These things are very profound. This religion [is something] a lot of people can’t understand.” “This religion tells you what you have to do; it tells you how to resolve the problem and how you have to live,” Larrondo continues. Rosie has seen people looking for answers in their lives. “If they’re lucky enough, they come to find this because this is a religion that can expound on what your problem and situation is at that particular time. There’s always a solution,” she says. 23


Guarding Over YOu As chapter leader for the Chicago Guardian Angels and supervisor for other Midwest chapters, Miguel Fuentes is dead serious about preventing crime words

Christina E. Rodriguez photos alBerto Treviño

A group of citizens rides the trains every night in Chicago. They can be seen on the Red, Blue and Green lines anytime after 8 p.m. They dress in an unmistakable style: red berets, red jackets, white t-shirts, black pants and military boots. They look like they own the place — which in a way they do. They’re not members of the Chicago Police Department. They’re not vigilantes. They’re not gangbangers, nor are they going to cause any harm. They’re private citizens who call themselves the Guardian Angels, and they’re out to protect their city. “They’re civilians going out, helping law enforcement,” said Officer Paul Morin, with the police department’s public transportation section. “[They’re just] being an extra set of eyes.” The Alliance of Guardian Angels, Inc., an international volunteer patrol organization geared toward fighting neighborhood crime, was founded in 1979 in New York City by Curtis Sliwa with only 13 other members. Thirty years later, the Guardian Angels can be found in 136 cities worldwide. Miguel Fuentes, 38, is chapter leader for the Chicago Guardian Angels, as well as supervisor for other Midwest chapters, including Milwaukee and St. Louis. He has been a member of the group since he was 16. After seeing the Guardian Angels on television he wanted to join the organization to help people; he also wanted to learn self-defense. While riding the Blue Line he met Sliwa, who handed him a pamphlet about the group. After three months of training, Fuentes was in.  “I fell in love with it,” Fuentes said of his Guardian Angels work. Fuentes, then a junior at Gage Park High School on Chicago’s South Side, didn’t tell his parents what he was up to. He would do his homework and then head out on patrols.

24 Café FEBRUARY | MARCH 2010

Miguel Fuentes, chapter leader for the Chicago Guardian Angels, has been a member of the group since he was a junior at Gage Park High School.

When his parents found out three months later, his father was infuriated and kicked his son out of the house, but eventually let him return home. “Just like any parent, especially any [Mexican] parent, you worry about your kids getting into gangs, drugs, any criminal activity or just hanging out with the wrong people,” Fuentes explained. “[My father] was worried about my safety and my well-being. He still worries.” By the time Fuentes was 17 he was in charge of 50 volunteers and used to partake in Guardian Angel activities every day of the week. Now, there are 30 active members plus alumni members. Alumni members no longer go on patrol but are still active in their local chapters. “They help start groups,


“We have to be role models, so kids have something [to look up to] growing up” — Miguel Fuentes help train members, advise chapters and help out whenever they can,” Fuentes said. The three months of Guardian Angel training includes patroling, self defense and physical fitness, and they carry no weapons. “We encourage members to work out at home. We train once or twice a week. We train in hand-to-hand combat,” Fuentes said. “We train in boxing and some grappling.” The group works alongside Chicago police, especially when it comes to safety precautions. The Guardian Angels make citizen arrests and hold criminals until police arrive, but they don’t seek out criminals. “We are more of a deterrent. Our purpose is not to just go out and make arrests,” said Fuentes. “We try to prevent crimes before they are committed.” William Townsell, assistant director of Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS), has worked with the Guardian Angels on safety presentations. “We view community policing as multifaceted,” said Townsell. “[The Guardian Angels] are going out and creating a visible presence. They’re doing what we encourage people to do.” CAPS considers the Guardian Angels group an ally rather than a competitor. Both organizations are usually called out when there are patterns of crimes in particular neighborhoods. “We don’t make laws,” Fuentes said. “We’re not causing problems.” In the past, the group’s offices could be found around

Chicago; it once had its local headquarters in the Wicker Park neighborhood due to the area’s high crime rates. Now it doesn’t have a headquarters anymore; instead, groups of volunteers meet every night to patrol train stations. Fuentes thought meeting in different locations cut down on the costs of owning or renting a building. “We had no bills, like electrical, heat and phone,” he said. “Remember, we are volunteers so we don’t have money to continue paying bills. We meet up at certain locations, patrol and train, and then go home.” When crime victims need witnesses, Fuentes said Guardian Angels volunteers make themselves available to testify for them. “If we’re the witnesses of the crime, then obviously we’ll get involved, and if the victim wants to press charges, we’ll follow up over in court,” he said. However, “a lot of times, police officers make arrests and the victims don’t show up.” The group also offers protection to people who feel threatened, as well as make themselves visible to ensure the security of those who use public transportation at night. Over the last few years, Fuentes has started Angels chapters in Milwaukee and Madison, Wis.; St. Louis, Mo.; and Peoria, Ill. He travels a few times a week to patrol those areas.   Fuentes believes in being a role model for younger generations. “We have to be role models, so kids have something [to look up to] growing up,” he said, “[so they] have a different avenue than everyone else.”

Chicago’s Guardian Angels ride the city’s L lines every night after 8 p.m. Top, from left: Kenneth Dosie, Christian Hernandez, Miguel Fuentes and Franklin Harris; bottom, from left Fernan Vargas and Benjamin Adam. 25


His daily grind

José López-Acevedo thinks that, with a little education, everyone can brew a perfect cup of coffee.

Expertise from Puerto Rico’s coffee plantations leads one man to educate the masses — on coffee words

Elisa Santana


Jillian Sipkins

José López-Acevedo could make a good cup of coffee with his eyes closed: intrinsically roasting coffee beans, grabbing the cup and filling it to perfection. “If the barista doesn’t know what they’re doing, then they will ruin your cup of coffee…Every stage, from seed to drink affects how your coffee tastes,” he says.

26 Café FEBRUARY | MARCH 2010


López-Acevedo, 37, a communications technician, temporarily moved to the Chicago area in 2005 when he was asked by the U.S. Government to take part in a project involving radio frequencies. During his stay, he ended up meeting his future wife, Jennifer, at a Mexican restaurant. The two got married and moved to Rolling Meadows, Ill. López-Acevedo says settling down gave him the perfect opportunity to spew out all his knowledge about coffee. López-Acevedo, a certified barista through the International Academy of Specialty Coffee, is currently teaching a class at Harper College in Palatine, Ill., on everything coffee. Coffee has been a part of his life since an early age. “I’ve been involved with coffee since I was six or seven years old,” says LópezAcevedo. “I became very familiarized with the process of cultivating.” This expert’s knowledge of coffee bean cultivation came from the time he spent roaming through coffee fields in Puerto Rico with his grandfather, who was a plant manager in a coffee plantation. That process involves planting coffee seeds, waiting about three years for the plants to grow and then harvesting the coffee beans once a year, López-Acevedo says. He had his first cup of coffee when he was 8 years old, and enjoyed every drop of it. Although he is an avid coffee drinker, his interest lies primarily in the planting and processing of the beverage. “Most people associate coffee with the drink, I associate it with the plant,” he says. This expertise led López-Acevedo to do consulting and marketing for a coffee company in Puerto Rico. “While working with them, I was at one of the biggest food trade shows in Barcelona, and everyone claimed they had the best cup of coffee,” he said. “There were marketing gimmicks everywhere.” According to him, the problem is that many people don’t have the proper coffee education to make a decision on what is the best coffee bean needed to make the best cup of coffee. “Coffee is enjoyed in the United States and Europe, but is not primarily produced there, so people have a limited knowledge of the process,” he says. “In order to make a good selection they should know what it’s all about.” After finishing his stint for the U.S. Government and finally settling down, he turned his knowledge of how to make a good cup of coffee into a course at Harper College. López-Acevedo says his hopes were that at the end of the class his students would be able to pick the coffee beans of their choice, roast them and make their very own cup of coffee at home. López-Acevedo says that he first educates his students on the different origins and types of coffee. Coffee comes from three regions: “the Americas, Africa and the Pacific…Within these regions, there are two types of coffee beans, arabica and robusta,” he explains. Arabica beans are grown in high altitudes. They produce the flavorful and aromatic coffee that you see mainly in the specialty coffee industry. On the other hand, robusta beans are grown in low altitudes and have more caffeine, but less flavor. Once students know what they like, they can choose beans from different origins and begin

learning how to use a home roaster. One particular group of López-Acevedo’s students is always eager to make coffee. “In every class or presentation, senior citizens will bring their own roaster or try to buy all the equipment I have,” says López-Acevedo. “You have to slow them down because they need to learn what they are doing.” Although his class consists of only three, 90-minute sessions, there is much to be learned. López-Acevedo says that he also goes to people’s homes to educate through private parties. The coffee instructor also has his own coffee brand: Don López. “The brand is registered here in the state of Illinois,” he says. “We use Colombian supreme beans. ‘Don’ means sir in Spanish and it’s an honor to my grandfather.” In the future, he hopes to commercialize his blend for supermarkets. Another goal of López-Acevedo is to write and publish a how-to book about coffee. He says it’s all about increasing awareness about coffee, even if it means spilling a few secrets. He says he is always asked if Starbucks, McDonald’s or other commercial coffee retailers have good coffee and who has the best. “The best coffee is the coffee you like,” says López-Acevedo. So, how does this coffee expert and educator like his café? “I like the double shot espresso with no sugar,” he says. “You can taste the coffee you’re drinking better, and when I go to the coffee shop I like to taste what they have to offer.” For a video demonstration on how to roast coffee at home, visit 27

Special Advertising Section

The Future is in your hands Raising the bar


ispanics are the future. By 2050, the fastest growing ethnic group in the U.S. is expected to constitute 25 percent of the population, and will be the largest group of consumers in Illinois within the next 10 years. By 2020 the Hispanic population in Illinois will jump from 1.5 to 2 million, compared with the United States statistics, which predicts an increase from 46.9 million to 60 million (18 percent) of the population within 10 years. One industry in which Hispanics play a large role is hospitality, where they tend towards supporting, rather than starring roles.

Special Advertising Section

Currently Hispanics constitute the largest ethnic group employed in the hospitality and leisure sector, but disproportionately tend towards behind the scenes positions such as dishwashers and busboys rather than management and ownership positions. In 2008, only 15 percent of Hispanic men and 24 percent of Hispanic women worked in professional and management positions across all job categories. Sponsored by the world’s leading drinks company Diageo and Café Media, Celebrate the Future Scholarship Fund attempts to address this gap. “Programs like Celebrate the Future challenge other companies and our industry as a whole to find opportunities to give back to the community in meaningful ways,” says Danny Wirtz, Vice President of Spirits Marketing and Sales, Wirtz Beverage Group. Hispanics represent a very important part of the future, both for Diageo and for everyone. With Celebrate the Future 2010, Diageo and Café Media aim to invest in the future. Diageo is the world’s leading premium drinks business with an outstanding collection of beverage alcohol brands across spirits, wine and beer categories. Operating in hundreds of markets around the world, Diageo is passionate about celebrating diversity, both internally and with their consumers. And the company is also committed to locally drive community relations as well as relationships with members of the drinks trade and with consumers.

Commemorative check at award ceramony. employees,” explains Diana Fujimura, Marketing Manager of Diageo. “Hispanics are extremely influential in the hospitality industry at all levels of the business,” says Brent Albertson, SVP-General Manager of Diageo Spirits Illinois-Indiana. “Front of house, back of house, management and executive roles--they fill them all.” And Diageo and Café Media want to make it possible for Hispanics in the hospitality industry to keep moving forward. In doing so, they have inspired Wirtz Beverage, one of the leading alcohol beverage distributors in the country, to take a greater role in the program.

In 2009 Celebrate the Future awarded $5,000 and $2,000 scholarships to 18 aspiring leaders in the hospitality industry. Scholarship recipients ranged from a dishwasher aspiring to be chef, to a mixed martial arts fighter with hopes of opening her own bar, to a busboy looking to one day own his own restaurant. These recipients used the funds to invest in career development in their chosen hospitality field. In short, Celebrate the Future 2009 accelerated career advancement.

Wirtz Beverage will be selecting a qualified Celebrate The Future applicant to gain valuable beverage distribution and sales experience through a paid internship. The recipient of the internship will be exposed to the many areas of the wholesaler operation including marketing/planning, sales execution and merchandising of the portfolio of Diageo brands.

Celebrate the Future 2010 will go even further than its predecessor. Diageo is recommitting to this program by offering $7,500 in scholarships.

Another new aspect of Celebrate the Future 2010 is the support of the new career path “Mixologist/Sommelier.” Celebrate the Future 2010 scholarships will enable aspiring drink specialists to obtain necessary training and development to become ‘Masters’ of their craft

“The mission of Celebrate the Future is to be a sustainable program that gives back to our community, industry and their

Whether in hospitality management, mixology or sommelier

Special Advertising Section

training, bar and restaurant ownership and management, the Celebrate the Future Scholarship Fund targets the Hispanic hospitality community with a focus on workforce development. “At Diageo, we understand that the long term, future health of our business is founded on catering to the needs of our consumer base. With this in mind, Diageo is seeking to cater to the Hispanic community needs in the most meaningful way that we can support and that is through education.” states Fujimura. There are several easy ways to get involved. First, anyone who is 21 years old or older and is interested in pursuing a profession in hospitality management or bar/restaurant ownership is eligible to participate. Also welcomed are nominations of individuals interested in the hospitality industry. To apply or nominate someone for the Celebrate the Future Scholarship Fund, simply go to to download or submit an application. You can also help grow the size of the scholarship fund by simply making a habit of purchasing Diageo’s most popular, best selling brands such as Don Julio, Jose Cuervo, and Ciroc Vodka, to name a few. Diageo will contribute a portion of proceeds from the sale of these brands to the Celebrate the Future Scholarship Fund. For those who want to help increase the scholarship fund with donations, Celebrate the Future 2010 also offers a Matching Contribution Fund Program. Those who do not nominate, apply or purchase products can donate funds directly to the program and Diageo will match 50% of every contribution. In this way, contributions can help increase the size of the scholarship fund, thereby increasing the number

How to apply Would you like to become a professional in the hospitality industry? Are you or someone you know interested in pursuing a career in hotel, restaurant or bar management and over the age of 21 years old?

Ways to get involved • Nominate a hospitality professional or apply for a Celebrate the Future Scholarship. For more information visit www.cafemagazine. com/future • Make a habit of purchasing Diageo’s popular brands. A portion of the proceeds will go toward the Celebrate the Future Scholarship Fund. • Donate funds to the Matching Funds Program. Diageo will match up to 50% of every dollar donated. Award decisions will be based on demonstrated need and dedication to getting ahead. Finalist will be chosen by a review committee. Nominations will be accepted until August 15, 2010. Winners will be announced in September 2010.

of recipients that can receive scholarships. For more information on the Matching Contribution Fund Program, visit “Combined, these initiatives are a clear example of Diageo’s commitment to celebrate diversity and promote leadership in the Latino community and its future success,” states Julian Posada, Publisher and President of Café Media. “We are proud to partner with Diageo and look forward to another year of demonstrating our commitment to the Latino community through meaningful work and thoughtful contributions.” Celebrate the Future 2010 is a jumpstart to the success of the future.


MiCarro TuCarro


Is this the car of your dreams? There are ways to accesorize and maintain it without breaking your bank.

Touch Keep your 4-wheel baby happy with these do’s and don’ts words

Christina E. Rodríguez


Jillian Sipkins 31

ABOVE: Ivan Rajic, of Lustr Detail, says that proper upkeep of your car allows for a longer paint life and increases your car’s value.

A new car would be great right now: shiny new paint, new MP3 player, awesome speakers. There’s only one problem — no money. The economy hasn’t exactly put you out of a job, but it has somewhat decreased your discretionary spending. If you’re looking to add a little something to your car, there are still some things you can do, especially since spring and summer are right around the corner. But be careful. There are plenty of companies, particularly Internet sites, that will claim to sell brand new quality products for less than half the retail price, products which may end up being defective, says Boomer Johnson of Boom Did It Custom Car Audio and Airbrush, located in Rockford, Ill. Do your research first, he advises.

32 Café FEBRUARY | MARCH 2010

Johnson has done everything from installing a car stereo with 26 speakers to “Pimp My Ride” style work, referring to the popular MTV reality show where literal lemons are turned into colorful vehicles that only your imagination could concoct. The company has been around since 1988 and they have worked on vehicles belonging to Michael Jordan, Missy Elliot and even Dennis Rodman. Johnson advises anyone who wants to buy electronics to buy the quality product first, not the generic version. “When you install something generic, there’s a greater chance of malfunction, which leads to spending more money for a new product and installation,” he explains.

miCarro TuCarro

TOP AND RIGHT: Guzman Custom Car installs everything from audios and DVD players to equalizers.

His customers were willing to spend a nice chunk of change on their cars. One client spent about $30,000 on his car about two or three years ago. But now, customers spend no more than a few thousand dollars. “I guess they’re figuring out that they can do more with the money they were once spending on their cars,” says Johnson. For the colder months, the more popular add on to cars is a remote starter that runs usually around $200, and car alarms, which are the most practical accessories. While plenty of people are being practical about where they’re spending their money, Eddie Guzman, of Guzman Custom Car Audio, 2711 W. 51st St. in Chicago, says that there are still some customers with new cars who come in and just start picking out all the electronics they want installed. “They’ll come in to transfer their stuff from the old car to their new car,” says Guzman, whose family-owned store was started by his father about eight years ago. The shop installs everything from car radios to televisions and navigation systems. According to Guzman, many clients come in looking for functionality. A customer’s radio could have been stolen or the speakers might have been blown out, and they come in to get those accessories replaced. Other times, cars bought from dealerships offer standard radios and electronics that are low-end. Guzman says that by going to a shop, a car owner can save at least $200 for a remote start compared to getting one installed at the dealership.


Aside from all the gizmos you can install in your ride, your car’s exterior can be, by far, more important. After enduring extreme heat or cold, the paint on your car can look a little dull. You may get your car washed and waxed on a regular basis, but that still doesn’t bring out the shine that you saw the day you brought your precious baby home. Ivan Rajic, of Lustr Detail, is a car detailer: he washes and waxes your car deeper than any mop-like spaghetti-cloths. Think of it as a deep facial cleansing for your car. According to Rajic, anyone can do the actual cleansing process as long as they practice and do a little reading first. First, Rajic washes the cars in order to get rid of the dirt on the paint. “It should be done fairly often because the less dirt you are removing from the car, the less chance you have of scratching the finish with that dirt,” he says. Next, he dries the car, which is pretty selfexplanatory, although he does recommend that it be done with microfiber drying towels as opposed to anything terry cloth. Drying should be done with a light hand and minimal pressure. A clay bar is used once the car is dry to remove contamination from rail dust, tar and any small particles that are impossible to remove by just washing the car. The clay bar will make the paint feel as smooth as glass, Rajic says. The fourth step is polishing. “Polishing is the process of removing microscopic

Aftermarket Info Want to see the latest aftermarket products? Go to the 2010 Chicago Auto Show. When: Feb. 12-21 Where: McCormick Place, 2301 S. Martin Luther King Drive, Chicago Admission: Adults, $11; seniors (62 and older) and children (ages 7-12), $7 Info:

amounts of paint in order to level the swirl marks and scratches and make them invisible,” explains Rajic. “Swirl marks are basically deeper than the paint level, so polishing removes paint around the swirl marks in order to make them even, or even enough to be invisible to the naked eye.” Sealing, also known as waxing, protects the finish. The sealant Rajic uses is usually a polymer, acrylic-based wax that lasts longer than the regular carnauba waxes often used in automobile waxes. The last and most important step is done by the owner. Rajic says that it’s important to keep the car clean and waxed as often as possible. Proper upkeep allows for a longer paint life and it increases the value of the car. It also determines whether or not Rajic will take the time to work on your car. “I will turn away a client if they won’t properly maintain their car,” he says. “There’s no point.” 33


Performance Boosters Need to get those love vibes going? You may want to try out some of these aphrodisiac delicacies


Chris Chávez Weitman photos alBerto Treviño

Want to get your lover in the mood? Then forget the bedroom and head for the supermarket Don’t worry — you won’t be hunting for powdered rhino horn or Spanish fly extract. A casual stroll through the aisles will turn up all kinds of things designed to arouse feelings of love or lust or both. Aphrodisiacs abound … right next to the canned tuna! Named for the Greek love goddess Aphrodite, aphrodisiacs have been around as long as man has wanted to ensure his potency and virility. Scientists have tried to ruin the party by telling us that no plant, potion or pill will enhance our sexual prowess or increase our ardor. And while science proves that certain foods may contain mood-altering substances, these are usually present in such small quantities as to negate any benefit. And yet there is something extremely sensual and erotic about slowly hand feeding your lover a strawberry dipped in 34 Café FEBRUARY | MARCH 2010

chocolate. Think about it: the large, luscious, red, slightly tart strawberry dripping with dark smoky chocolate, slowly moving towards a wet, open mouth, the lips parted slightly in eager anticipation. It sounds almost pornographic, but this is how aphrodisiacs titillate the mind and the senses: through taste, smell, touch, sight and sound. Chocolate has been considered an aphrodisiac for centuries. Aztec Emperor Moctezuma was said to have consumed large quantities of chile-laced “xocalatl,” later dubbed chocolate by the Spanish, to maintain his stamina and keep his wives and mistresses happy. Chocolate contains tryptophan, one of the building blocks of the brain chemical serotonin, which generates sexual arousal. It also has a stimulant called phenylethylamine, the chemical released


Titillate the mind and the senses of your lover with some powerfully sensual, mood-altering aphrodisiacs like chocolate-covered strawberries or oysters.

by the brain when people fall in love. And of course, caffeine is a major component of chocolate … which accelerates the heart rate and increases blood pressure. While nature may make it appear that something is an aphrodisiac because of its shape or the way it grows, in reality, it’s likely the vitamins and minerals that do the trick. For example, bananas are suggestively shaped, but they are also high in potassium, which is crucial to heart function. A cob of corn is packed with Vitamin B5, which is critical for the

body to manufacture the sex hormones produced by the adrenal glands. Another reputed aphrodisiac, the avocado, got its name from the Aztec word for testicle, because of the way it hangs in pairs when it grows on trees. This fruit has a smooth, sensuous texture that contains 14 vitamins and minerals, including iron and copper, which are great for your blood. Sometimes, it’s what a food looks like on the inside that counts. An open fig resembles female genitalia, some say, and eating figs is considered a sexual stimulant. Seafood is another well-known reputed performance booster. In fact, all the hoopla over whether eating raw oysters can really enhance your sex life may, in fact, be true. In 2005 a group of Italian scientists working with the National Institutes of Health found two of the amino acids found in oysters actually do stimulate the production of sex hormones. It may also be because oysters are high in zinc, and studies have shown that a zinc deficiency can lead to a low libido. Caviar is another food thought to have aphrodisiac qualities because it, too, is high in zinc. But in this case, the expense and glamour associated with consuming caviar may be part of the reason it is passion-inducing. For centuries, herbs have been used to enhance sexual pleasure, increase stamina and promote arousal. The Internet abounds with capsules, oils and tonics offering sexual salvation made from various herbs. Damiana, a shrub native to Central America, causes tingling in the groin when ingested. That’s probably why it is considered a sexual stimulant even though there is no scientific proof that it works. Fennel contains natural plant estrogen, while ginger, ginseng and garlic stimulate the circulatory system. While science says there is no such thing as a true aphrodisiac, if you look at foods long thought to provide sexual healing, you’ll see that most are low in fat, high in vitamins and minerals with very little saturated fat or bad cholesterol. In other words, they’re good for you! A diet rich in healthy foods can only mean a healthy body, which in turn means energy for peak performance in the bedroom. So the next time your lover hands you the grocery list and asks you to do the shopping, bring home a little something extra just for the two of you to share. It’ll make unpacking the groceries at home a whole lot more fun!

For our oysters a la Café recipe, please visit www.

Chocolate Dipped Fruit Prep: 15 minutes Cook: 15 minutes 1 lb. good quality bittersweet chocolate chips or chunks (such as Scharffen Berger, Ghirardelli or Godiva) 2 dozen large, firm strawberries with leafy tops, washed and thoroughly dried Place the chocolate in a stainless steel or other heatproof medium sized bowl. Heat two inches of water in a medium saucepan until almost boiling. Turn off the heat. Set the bowl of chocolate over the water to melt. Stir until smooth. The chocolate should be between 87°F and 105°F. Carefully hold the leafy top of the strawberry and dip into the chocolate. Place on a wax paper-lined baking sheet to let chocolate harden. Variation: use a toothpick to dip the strawberry and then set the toothpick into a stable piece of styrofoam.

WALK ON THE WILD SIDE Some people will try anything. Here are some of the world’s more unusual reputed mood enhancers: Blister beetles: The emerald green beetle, also known as “Spanish fly,” secretes a poisonous chemical compound that, when ingested, causes a burning and swelling in the urinary tract. Those who partake mistake this for sexual stimulation when, in fact, it often causes kidney failure and death. Tarantula: In Cambodia, these hairy black spiders are pulled from their burrows and quickly deep-fried until they are gooey on the inside and extra crispy on the outside. The venom from these arachnids is thought to work as an aphrodisiac. Crocodile: Those eating crocodile meat, especially the penis, are said to gain the power and aggressiveness of these aquatic reptiles. This delicacy is especially popular in China. Snake: East Asians are the main connoisseurs of the blood and meat of the cobra, which they believe helps sustain erections by increasing one’s “yang” or active hot energy. 35


Most Spanish-speaking Latinos don’t fully understand tax law according to Maria Suarez, IRS special agent in the criminal investigations department in Chicago.

Scams lurk as tax time nears Latino immigrants are especially vulnerable to fraudulent preparers and con jobs WORDS Sue Ter Maat PHOTOS Marta García

As tax season approaches, the opportunity to get into trouble for not filing, filing a false claim or getting burned by a tax scheme becomes more likely. Experts say those who try to skirt the law or are ignorant of it face stiff penalties and fines for years to come. Imprisonment is possible for the most egregious violators. For Latinos who are new to the country or have limited English proficiency, the chances of falling victim to unscrupulous tax preparers or con jobs may be higher than most of the U.S. population, according to Maria Suarez, IRS special agent in the criminal investigations department in Chicago. “This is a vulnerable group especially if they are new to the country and [their] English is not good,” Suarez said. “They 36 Café FEBRUARY | MARCH 2010

don’t [fully] understand the tax information and they fall victim.” In the world of federal taxes, willfully avoiding payment for the public good through illegal means carries the heaviest fines and longest jail time. Exactly how many Latinos have committed tax evasion is unknown.  There are no statistics on who perpetrates the crime based on ethnicity, but some Latinos have had problems paying taxes, said Joe Muñoz, an IRS spokesman. “To date, we don’t split them up into groups like that,” Muñoz said. “If you go through surnames, you have a problem because some people with Hispanic names are from the Philippines. Normally I don’t think there is too much difference between

the racial groups when it comes to taxes. But for Hispanics, [the No. 1 issue] is that newcomers don’t understand the general tax laws or how to comply.” Suarez believes the reason for those tax evasion cases boils down to the fact that violators simply don’t want to pay, she said. “Why do they do it? They don’t want to pay taxes,” Suarez said. “Wouldn’t you like all income tax-free? They feel they are above the law, that it doesn’t apply to them.” Some groups actively seek not to pay federal taxes, considering themselves tax resisters, said Ruth Benn, coordinator of the New York-based War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee. Her group supports the roughly 50 tax-resistance organizations in the U.S., numbering between 8,000 to


10,000 people, Benn said. Many people in this movement aren’t attempting to hide their income or intentions, according to Benn. They simply don’t want their money to pay for war and many are quite open about it.   Some attempt to live below the taxable income bracket, Benn said. Others are thrown into collections, and have their wages garnished or liens put on their properties when they refuse to pay. Still, others are sent to jail. About 30 people have gone to prison for war tax resistance in the last 70 years, she said.

Filing a false claim or not filing at all are the most common ways people choose not to pay taxes. Filing a false return is a misdemeanor, which could land violators in prison for up to three years and cost up to $250,000 for an individual and $500,000 for corpo-

rations. Not filing a claim could result in prison time of up to one year and cost up to $100,000 for an individual and $200,000 for a corporation and cost of prosecution. Filing a false claim can mean people don’t declare all their wages in an effort not to pay, especially if they are paid in cash — tips, for example. Others might file a false claim through a tax preparer who misleads them, Suarez said.   A group highly susceptible to being taken advantage of are recent Latino immigrants with limited English, Suarez said. While it’s not known how many Latinos have fallen victims to tax scams, resulting in the filing of false returns, anecdotally there have been many cases, she said. Unscrupulous tax preparers fudge a tax return to get their client a bigger refund.

Some preparers will add children or phony medical problems to get a more substantial refund, Suarez explained. When looking to prosecute, the IRS takes into account the motivation and background of the taxpayer, but even if it’s found they were taken advantage of, victims are responsible for the back taxes, late fees and some fines. “It’s distressing to give out personal financial information, not fully understand what’s going on and have someone do you wrong by filing a bad tax return,” Suarez said. There are many red flags that taxpayers should look out for, said Cindy Hockenberry, a researcher for the National Association of Tax Preparers. Among those red flags: tax preparers who offer a high refund before even knowing anything about the client, or preparers who refuse to sign the return. Others might add a few deductions that taxpayers don’t have, Hockenberry said. If taxpayers can’t pay because of financial hardships, it’s best to discuss the matter with the IRS instead of resorting to unscrupulous means, she said. “If you can’t pay, there are installment plans,” Hockenberry explained. “As long as there’s an effort to pay, the IRS can be pretty merciful.”

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here they


A fresh blast of Latino Millenials infuses the workforce with energy, education and high expectations words

Darhiana Mateo


Karthik Sudhir

Adrian Rosado believes he brings to the boardroom table an open mind and a good dose of skepticism.

Adrian Rosado admits he has a chip on his shoulder. But it’s a good thing. In fact, as a 25-year-old Latino armed with self-confidence, fierce determination and an MBA, it’s what drives him. “When my parents were growing up, there was no such thing as a Latino MBA, whereas now we’re able to go into different industries and make our presence felt,” says Rosado, a business analyst for Business Systems of America in Chicago. “As a Latino, I go in assuming I have a strike against me because I’m the first generation to make my mark in this industry. As a Latino Millennial in the business field, I have a lot to prove. The microscope is already on me.” Rosado is part of a growing demographic of Latino Millennials shaking up the business world with their bold outlook and desire to carve their own path to success. Millennials is a term used to loosely identify the generation born after 1980 that entered the workforce after 2000. They are ambi-

38 Café FEBRUARY | MARCH 2010

tious, technologically savvy, openminded, risk-takers, multitaskers, team players and socially conscious. Latino Millennials in particular are a pivotal group to watch as they enter the workforce in unprecedented numbers with fewer barriers, more education and unlimited potential than previous generations of Latinos. As a whole, this generation approaches work very differently than the Baby Boomers or Generation Xers. They bring a distinct set of attitudes, values and expectations to work — and in the process are redefining what it means and what it takes to be successful in today’s world. “They are definitely a group that we haven’t really seen in corporate America,” says Marcia Vargas, an independent human

resources executive and former vice president of inclusion and diversity for McDonald’s USA. “As a group, they’ve probably been more coached, more protected than any other generation before them. The end result is a workforce that really feels like they are extremely special. There really isn’t anything they feel they can’t change or impact or positively influence,” says Vargas. “They really are very civicminded, probably the most globally focused generation. They care. They care what’s happening in India, in Iraq, in other parts of the U.S.” As Latinos, their ability to navigate two worlds in an increasingly multicultural society is translating into serious advantages in the workforce.

getahead Latino Millennials understand the power of hard work. But whereas their parents’ and grandparents’ generations might have defined success as a decent job, good income and sense of stability, Millennials’ definition of success is much more ambitious.

“Millennials are empowered. They don’t see the same barriers their parents did. They are much more risk takers, much more likely to challenge authority than their parents were,” Vargas says. So what do Latino Millennials need to thrive in the workforce? “I need to know that I am trusted to make decisions. If I crash, it’s a learning experience. If I hit a home run, we all excel, right?” Rosado says. “In my work setting, I need the ability to be creative, the ability to use all my resources.” In return, Rosado says he brings to the boardroom table an open mind and a sense of skepticism. “I’m a brand new MBA. I’m not set in any way, shape or form. If you present me with a project, I would creatively get the job done instead of going to a manual and following step one, step two, step three,” he says. “As a Millennial, I bring skepticism. I question the status quo and I question the standard. I question authority. Once you start questioning the status quo, people start listening, and once people start listening, that’s when you are able to make an impact.” LOOKING FOR RESPECT

Yaneli Gomez, 25, an accountant with Aon Corp., sums up what she values most in a work dynamic in one word: respect. “I want to work in a place where my coworkers respect me, where my bosses respect my ideas and work ethic,” Gomez says. While a junior rank, the recent DePaul University graduate is often sought out by upper management for technical help with an Excel or PowerPoint presentation. “I would like to work for someone who embraces my ideas, who is open to change. Sometimes we know shortcuts to things that will save so much time

instead of doing things the way they’ve always been done.” Companies that pay attention to the unique mindset of Millennials and tailor approaches to best resonate with this niche have a greater chance of retaining this talent. “It does require companies to be much more creative in how they recruit and, more importantly, retain [employees],” says Vargas. “Millennials will not stay in a company that doesn’t meet their needs. If they don’t feel fulfilled, they’re gone.” Roger Jimenez, co-founder and director of client relations at Talent Solution Partners in New York, says this generation offers tremendous advantages to workplaces if nurtured properly. As challenge seekers, they also hold a lot of promise, he says. “They are the people that are willing to take on the most difficult challenges within an organization. If you have this outlook, the rewards are very great. There is an opportunity, if you are willing to take on risks, to really catapult your career much earlier and much faster than others who don’t have the same outlook,” says Jimenez. Many of the negative stereotypes surrounding Millennials — notions that they are difficult to manage, high-maintenance and unwilling to work as hard as previous generations — stem from a lack of understanding, says Jimenez. Encouraging dialogue between employees and employers about both sides’ expectations and needs is key, he adds. At the same time, it’s important for Millennials to take the time to learn about previous generations and find mentors in older colleagues, says Vargas, saying a little humility can go a long way. “Millennials should not assume that they know everything,” Vargas says. “They should recognize that though they have access to information and technologies to find answers in a split second, there are people within the organization who have actually been there and done that.”

Yaneli Gomez is often sought out by upper management for her technical skills.

INFOBOX For a longer version of this story, visit

Tips for managing Millennials • Take advantage of this generation’s comfort working in diverse teams. • Provide challenging assignments to keep them engaged. • Give regular and honest feedback and set clear expectations. • Respect work/life balance. • Provide opportunities for Millennials to learn from other colleagues of different generations. • Find ways to honor and celebrate their Latino heritage and individuality. • Implement mentoring and leadership programs as key retention tools. Sources: Roger Jimenez and Marcia Vargas 39


Having worked with Latino families for over 30 years, Arturo Baranda knows what it takes to build relationships between parents and their children.

Listen up

Dating and relationship dialogue between parents and their children starts with a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T words

Angélica Herrera photos Jillian Sipkins

Wearing an Illini sweatshirt and jeans, Rosaura Maldonado laughs when asked if she openly talks to her Latino parents about dating and relationships. “Oh! You’re being serious,” she says, apologizing. Sitting in the crowded Café Jumping Bean in Pilsen, the 28-year-old explains how daunting — if not downright impossible — it is to talk to her Mexican parents about dating, relationships or much else concerning her personal life. “My first boyfriend wasn’t introduced as my boyfriend to my parents,” she says. “It was assumed he was my boyfriend, but I never officially said anything.” Nowadays, Maldonado’s parents suspect she’s dating someone because her boyfriend is showing up at family parties. It’s clear to Maldonado they know 40 Café FEBRUARY | MARCH 2010

something is going on when, on the rare occasions she’s by herself, her mother inquires, “¿Y tu novio?” [“And your boyfriend?”] Steering clear of conversations involving relationships is a constant maneuver for Maldonado. Saying too much becomes an open invitation for unsolicited advice from her mother. “My mom tends to give her opinion and tell me what I should do and what I did wrong,” she says. “Who wants to hear that?” Like Maldonado, many Latinos share a similar experience when it comes to talking to their parents about relationships. But something can be done to change that. Having worked with families as a parenting program director at Chicago’s Mid-Town Center for Boys for 36 years, Arturo Baranda knows first-hand


what it takes to build relationships between parents and their children. He says the trick to open up communication between parents and children — no matter how old they are — is following a formula that encompasses attention, acceptance, approval, respect and understanding. Doing so helps create a sense of mutual trust. [See sidebar.] However, Baranda says simply following the formula isn’t always enough because one must also consider the generational differences between parents and their children. It’s important for children to acknowledge that parents have lived both major successes and failures — and this is something they may be able to someday apply to their own lives, he says. Still, experience shouldn’t ever trump being fair. “What a parent needs to understand is who is this child of theirs — the good and the bad — and accept them for who they are,” Baranda says. “The worst thing a parent can do is judge their child, or injure their self-esteem because most of the time children hear something the parent says as a life sentence, not as an eruption of agitation or frustration.” CURFEW INCLUDED

In many ways, Carolina Garcia says she’s played the role of mother and father for years because her husband worked all day, especially during the hours when her two girls were home. Her daughters, now 23 and 21, haven’t always heeded her advice, but when they do listen to her, it’s often over a cup of coffee. “Usually, my oldest daughter is the one who listens to me when I tell her something,” Garcia says with a smile, gingerly touching the eyeglasses hanging from her neck. “Meanwhile, the younger one tends to tell me, ‘I don’t want to hear it.’” But when it comes to being supportive of who they date, Garcia asks them to first bring their sweethearts home for her to meet them because she wants “to know what kind of person he is before I give them my approval ... but [my approval] comes with a curfew.” Her youngest daughter still lives at home with Garcia. Garcia says that possibly the best way for her daughters to open up is to invite them out to dinner just to talk, because when they’re at home, the last thing they want to do is talk. “It’s your job to capture their attention so they can listen to you,” she says. “As parents, we have walked down that path, and although we don’t want them to go through anything bad, we need to recognize that they too must live their own lives.” Nonetheless, Garcia wishes she and her daughters spoke more openly. It’s not just parents who want an open relationship. For the most part others who, like Maldonado, lack an open dialogue with their parents, wish it existed. Maldonado is sure her parents, who got married at 18 and have raised six children together, must have great relationship advice. “But if I start talking too much about someone, they might misinterpret it as my wanting to get married,” she says with a sigh. “Maybe they don’t really understand the concept of dating because they got married so young.” Regardless of the generational gap, improperly channeling emotions at a parent or child can result in a wall that is laid brick-bybrick. But knowing how to admit when you’ve screwed up is equally important. “As a parent, accepting that you’re defective is crucial,” Baranda says. “But being able to admit when you have hurt your child, and knowing how to ask for forgiveness, is vital.” And by no means does asking for forgiveness jeopardize a parent’s

“As parents, we need to recognize they must live their own lives,” says Carolina Garcia, here with a picture of herself and her two daughters, now 23 and 21.

Get Your Children To Speak Up Attention: Give them your undivided attention, away from distractions. Find your children’s strengths and encourage them to pursue things they’re good at — and show up to support them. Acceptance: Accept and love them just the way they are, even when you’re mad at them. Remind them you love them and that you’re proud they’re your kids. Give them the space and sense of security to become comfortable in their own skin. Approval: Let them know when they have disappointed you and why. But also let them know how proud they make you when they’re great. If you don’t approve of their behavior, wait until you’re in a good place to assertively talk to them. Respect: Show the same level of respect you expect from them. Apologize when you have been hurtful, and be ready to explain what part of your behavior was wrong. Eventually, your children will start to mimic this behavior. Understanding: If you’re involved in your children’s lives, it’s easier to understand what they’re going through and why. If your children feel understood, it’s easier for them to want to come to you for advice. As a result, they’re more aware of the consequences of their actions. Source: Arturo Baranda, Mid-Town Center for Boys

authority. “If anything, it strengthens a mutual bond because there’s respect in an apology. It signals to the children that their parent trusts they have the ability to be better people,” Baranda explains. “Showing vulnerability is invaluable to getting your child to open up and talk to you.” 41

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Blacktino And Proud of it

Born into a Latino and black household, a new generation tries to tackle both sides of a cultural equation words

Randi Belisomo HernĂĄndez photos Stacie Freudenberg 43



hey’re caught between two cultural worlds. With one parent Latino and another parent black, the children of interracial relationships oftentimes struggle with either ethnic group, feeling never fully a part of either side of their background. Sometimes they can strike a balance, yet other times one culture is canned. “Blacks and Latinos come together from very different places and with very different traditions,” says Dr. John Betancour, an associate professor of urban planning at the University of Illinois at Chicago. “Usually, women are more influential on children than men are, so kids are socialized on the side of women unless the father takes a special interest.” But the maternal relationship, says Betancour, isn’t the only factor in ethnic association. The relationship of children with their extended family, the level of parental activity within their own ethnic communities and the color of their skin all play a role. “The people that look like you treat you as one of them,” says Betancour. But that is not all that they are.

A BETTER SENSE OF THE WORLD Carmen Gutierrez has always felt peer pressure to embrace an ethnicity. The 27-year-old violence prevention worker is the daughter of a black mother and a Puerto Rican father, and she grew up in the predominantly Hispanic neighborhood of Humboldt Park. “Amongst friends, ” she explains, “I had to choose what culture I wanted to be more dominant.” In grammar school, her selection was often in favor of her Latin background, but sometimes, she says, she was not Latin enough. “When I was with the Puerto Rican kids, I had to downplay anything black,” Carmen says. “When I was with the black kids, I had to downplay anything Puerto Rican.“ That tension in school, she says, was never present in her home. On Christmas, she would eat arroz con gandules; on New Year’s Day, it was collard greens and black eyed peas. Her mother Mary Scott Boria says such diversity only made her daughter more well-rounded. “She has a better sense of the world because she has to strug-

gle with both sides of the equation,” says Boria, who describes both her husband and herself as “very strong” in their cultural identities. Carmen’s husband, however, is strong in his black cultural identity, and Carmen says there was little doubt she would end up with a black man. “Puerto Rican men have an arrogance about them that drives me crazy,” she laughs. “They want the doll, some fantasy of a woman that is perfect in all ways.” She says she is far from that, and the couple has moved with their three children to West Humboldt Park, what Carmen describes as “the black side” of the neighborhood. There, though, the tension remains. “I definitely feel sometimes that I’m not black enough for some people,” she says, and often she uses humor to deflect the issue. When that doesn’t work, she says their problem with her is their issue, not her own. “Sometimes I wonder whether I should spend my time justifying myself or whether I should just move on,” she says.

The Boria family: (from left) Rafael Angel Boria, Carmen Gutierrez, and Mary Scott-Boria.

44 Café FEBRUARY | MARCH 2010


“Don’t be pegged into a corner because someone says you’re supposed to be”

Rosie Mathis, 18, right, and her mother, Rose Bishop, pose at their Chicago home.

AVOIDING LABELS Eighteen-year-old Rosie Mathis is three parts African-American, but her heart and her grandmother are Puerto Rican. The Pritzker College Prep senior is more interested in applying to college than contemplating her cultural components, but says she can blend with both blacks and Latinos. “You can tell I have black in me for sure,” the aspiring medical missionary laughs, and her father wished that to be all anyone ever saw. Her mother, Rosie Bishop, is no longer with Rosie’s African-American father, who wanted his daughter to never speak Spanish and to attend a predominantly black school. That didn’t happen. The Spanish-speaking honor student

attends a diverse high school, where she learned more than her mother may have bargained for.

Rosie says she is most proud of the family-centric Puerto Rican culture and, as she says, the fact that “they’re loud!”

“When she first started,” Bishop explains, “the kids would use the word ‘nigger,’ and she thought it was no big deal. The kids were thinking they were cool and hot and hip, but they were not black.”

Her mother, though, has always advised her to avoid labels. “Don’t be pegged into a corner because someone says you’re supposed to be,” Bishop says she has long preached.

Bishop has never denied Rosie her African-American heritage, and had to explain to her daughter why such language is so caustic.

That someone, in Rosie’s current case, is the college application now waiting on her desk, an application on which she has decided to check “Hispanic” as her race.

“In terms of parenting,” she says, “it was all on me. I had to educate her about both cultures.” That included regular trips to the DuSable Museum of African American History, as well as visits to her Puerto Rican family every Sunday.

“I’ve faced it,” she explains of her biracial background. “As long as you know who you are, who cares what other people think.“ 45

caféGrande BEST OF BOTH WORLDS Victoria Johnson is the product of diverse cultures, as well as of divorce. The 25-year-old Tampa resident grew up with her Puerto Rican-born mother and her African-American father twelve hundred miles away on Chicago’s North Side. “I wouldn’t say it was easy,” says the full-time student of her biracial background. “The two people you look up to the most don’t identify together culturally.“ They didn’t identify at all after seven years of marriage, and mother Ivette left Chicago with Victoria in 1994. Were it not for diligence on the part of both parents, seemingly her daughter’s AfricanAmerican heritage would have been left behind, too. “It’s the best of both worlds if that’s your attitude,” says Victoria, and both Ivette and father Kenn tried to offer everything their very different worlds included. “This is the U.S.,” says Kenn. “If you’re even a small part African-American, you’re considered African-American.” Victoria lived with him during the summers, when he would not only attempt to teach her a bit of black history, but take her to the Puerto Rican Parade each June. At home in Tampa, Victoria grew up speaking Spanish and enjoyed a small quinceañera party at home. “I never forced her to pick a nationality,” says Ivette. “I always told her she was Puerto Rican and African-American.” But despite her Spanish language and a strong Latin influence in Florida, Victoria now identifies primarily as black. Why? “I look black,” she responds. She even entered into a relationship with a black man with whom she is now raising their 4-year-old son. It’s a fact she says is difficult for both her mother and her mother’s mother because they both feel their Hispanic heritage slowly fading from the family’s line. “You don’t have to balance it evenly on a scale,” Victoria says confidently of her dual cultures. Her father says it comes down to ensuring his daughter never felt she was “choosing one parent over the other.“ “They let me explore both sides of who I am at all times,” Victoria says. “Nothing was ever restricted.“

46 Café FEBRUARY | MARCH 2010

SAME VALUES, DIFFERENT CULTURES Valentina and Brence Turner have four children to raise and two cultures to teach them. Valentina, 33, is Mexican, and met Brence, 31, an African-American, a decade ago at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill. They didn’t think too much of their differences then, but since the kids have come, they are evident in the household and the community. “One day when I picked up my girl at kindergarten,” Valentina recalls, “she asked me if she was a foster child, because the kids told her she must be because she didn’t look like me.” The South Chicago residents live in a predominantly black community, and while Mexican food and music pervades their home, the African-American eyes around them often look on the family as different. Valentina doesn’t mind.


The Turner family: (from left) Valentina, 7; Valentina (the mother); Leah, 1; Sophia, 3; Brence, and Nayana, 10.

“I feel that any family that has two loving parents is a good thing,” she says. “We have the same values, even if our cultures are different.”

sweet potatoes on the Turner’s family table. “We are really trying to surround them with both cultures,” Valentina says.

Brence encourages his children to learn Spanish, and has befriended many Mexican co-workers at his machinist job. “It will be an advantage for them,” he says of his children’s dual ethnicities. “I want them to have every advantage possible.”

But Brence emphasizes the cultures don’t have to be equal every day. “My whole philosophy is roll with the tide,” he laughs. “If there is a Latin cultural event we can go to one weekend, we will go. The next weekend, we may find something AfricanAmerican to do.”

In fact, their differences have worked in some ways to ease conflicts in which many couples clash. Mexicans, Valentina explains, open their Christmas gifts on December 24th, while Brence’s family celebrates Christmas on Christmas Day. Salsa can sit by

Valentina says such education leads to increased self-esteem. “Children want to feel love and acceptance. Teaching them about their culture and pride in their culture, they’ll always feel those things.” 47

caféGrande Being an Afro-Latino in the United States is tricky. Oftentimes it means unacceptance on the part of the African-American community, and condescension among other Hispanics. AfroLatinos share few black cultural norms here, yet they don’t look like what most think Hispanics should. Ricardo Millet says he is as Latino as any Latino, but with three grandparents from Jamaica and another from Antigua, many Latinos, he says, have trouble with that. His forefathers moved to Panama for work in the early 1900s, when the French first attempted to build a canal. But growing up in the late 1940s and 1950s, the boy with black skin felt the insidious effects of racism in Central America that most associate with the Jim Crow South. From separate bathrooms to separate post office windows, his small town of Gaboa’s segregation patterns were enforced by the military. “In general, the color gradation concept in Latin America is strong,” Millet explains. “The darker the skin color you have, the less you are appreciated, and there are assumptions made about your intelligence.“ Those assumptions would have been wrong in Millet’s case, because he earned a scholarship to attend Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass. There, black classmates viewed him as just another international student. Of this, Millet laughs. “My history was in many ways more afrocentric than theirs,” he says, but recalls his experience at Brandeis as liberating. “I was finally in a society that provided a legal basis for pursuing equality of rights,” Millet says, and describes the campus as encouraging when it came to questioning equality. Millet eventually landed in Chicago, married an African-American woman, and raised three Spanish-speaking children. While his day job is as a consultant to non-profits and foundations, Millet also works as a community organizer, trying to build bridges between blacks and Latinos. “Together we can effect greater victories,” he says. Carlos Flores has also been building bridges between both communities. The self-described “Afro-Puerto Rican,” who grew up listening to the Temptations along with Tito Puente, came to the U.S. when he was 10. Flores has been working to educate people about the contributions of black Latinos with what he calls the Afro-Latino Project.


Flores grew up identifying with Puerto Ricans more so than blacks, living in Lincoln Park when it was a Hispanic enclave. But not even there was he fully accepted. “Brown people haven’t even begun to deal with how they have dealt with their own black people in their own society,” Flores says, describing a feeling of marginalization in both the black and Latino communities. He was never that involved in the Civil Rights movement, though he often felt the same impact of discrimination in the 1960s as blacks. In fact, many mistook him as such. “I’ve had African-Americans tell me, ‘Gee, we thought you were one of us until you opened your mouth,’” he says.

48 Café FEBRUARY | MARCH 2010


START WITH LASTING VALUES. When values come first, ordinary people can do extraordinary things. That is what drives us at Loyola, where we strive to teach, heal, defend, discover, and above all else, serve others. Together, we’ll make the world a better place.

We are Chicago’s Jesuit University. Learn what the difference can mean to you. Visit



A modern, free-spirited Latina ‘princess’ celebrates her quinceañera party with a touch of class ... and some breakdancing too

Gloria Elena Alicea photos Lynda Guillú

nce upon a time, Graciela Perez, a pretty 14-year-old

girl living in Mexico City with her parents and eight brothers and sisters, dreamed of celebrating her quinceañera dressed in a blue chiffon gown and swirling to a Viennese waltz in the arms of a dashing young man under the twinkling lights of glass chandeliers. 50 Café FEBRUARY | MARCH 2010


Dulcemaria Ramirez (center) and her court at the Klehm Arboretum and Botanical Garden in Rockford, Illinois: (from left to right) Brisa Gonzalez and Adalberto Martinez; Marco Alvarez and Andrea Aldridge; Adrian Sandoval and Angelica Gonzalez; Kristina Dominguez and Gustavo Ortiz; and Diana Martinez and Edwin Rodas.

Seeing the princessy balls given for her cousins who lived in the better parts of town fanned her imagination, and she would rehearse her dream birthday ball over and over in her mind. The quinceañera, a fancy coming-of-age party celebrated when a Latina turns 15 years old (quince años in Spanish), has been feeding the dreams of teen girls in Latin America since the time of the Conquistadors. Tradition has it that under the influence of the Spanish and the French, an initiation ceremony held for 15-year-old girls by the Aztecs, Mayans and Olmecs became the European-style debutante ball commemorated with Catholic rites known today as the quinceañera.

Often celebrated with as much pomp as a lavish wedding — complete with a court of attending maidens (damas) and their escorts (chambelanes) — part of the thrill for a teenage girl is that, in its original intention, the quinceañera served to announce to her community that she had matured into a young woman who was ready to be courted. Now this coming-of-age celebration that spread throughout Latin America is enjoying growing popularity among young Latinas in the United States — where many doting parents are willing to pay an extravagant price tag even in a sluggish economy. 51


TOP: Eldest sister, Diana Ramirez, left, and mother, Graciela, working on the guest list for Dulcemaria’s quinceanera. RIGHT: Dulcemaria decided to break from tradition by wearing a white dress for her quinceañera instead of the more traditional pink or pastel colored one.

Graciela — whose parents had many mouths to feed — never had her debutante ball. But years later, living with her husband and three daughters in their new home in the United States, Graciela Ramirez (her married surname) vowed she would pass on to her daughters such time-honored cultural traditions as the quinceañera. However, it wasn’t until her youngest daughter, Dulcemaria, was set to turn 15 that Graciela realized just how challenging it would be to pass on her traditions to a new generation of Ramirez girls growing up in the all-American town of Rockford, Ill. The Dress

There are only three weeks left, and 14-year-old Dulcemaria Ramirez disinterestedly thumbs through a row of shiny, silky, satiny and fluffy dresses hanging on the racks of a Chicago bridal shop, listening to rock music playing over the MP3 player headphones that dangle through her thick, dark strands of hair. The long-limbed teen, dressed in a checkerboard tunic top, skinny jeans and thong sandals, looks like she’d be much more content in a video game shop. Finally, the laid-back, lanky, U.S.-born teenager — whose name means “Sweet Maria” in Spanish but who prefers to just be called “Dulce” — tries on a long white gown. She insists on

52 Café FEBRUARY | MARCH 2010

wearing a white dress, instead of the customary pink or pastel color, even though white is traditionally reserved for weddings. Graciela says of her two older daughters, who were born in Mexico, “They didn’t give me as much grief.” “My parents want to make it traditional,” says the eldest, Diana. “Dulce throws out her ideas, and (my parents) say, ‘No. That’s not traditional.’ “ “She told my parents, ‘For my quinceãnera, I want to breakdance!’” Diana exclaims with exasperation. “I want to wear my Converse (gym) shoes,” says Dulce, who’s never worn high-heeled shoes. But is she break-dancing for real? “Mom doesn’t want me to. But yeah, with my break-dancing crew,” she says. “She should have gone to Japan,” says the grandmother, Ofelia Hernandez, in Spanish. Dulce had toyed with the idea of going with her aunt on a trip to Japan. Among families who can afford the expense, the birthday girl can choose between taking a special trip, often to Europe, or having a quinceañera party with a full court of seven damas and seven chambelanes (the total number of 14 signifies her 14 years of life). In the end, Dulce settled for the debutante ball.

traditions The Cake

Next, the three generations of party planners head to Bombon Bakery at Ashland and Ogden avenues in Chicago. There, Diana leafs through a magazine thick with ads. In the past decade, quinceañera magazines and expos advertising banquet halls, tuxedo rentals, party decorations and florists have popped up in many major cities across the country. Thumbing through a catalog of special-event cakes, Dulce goes for a cake with a psychedelic hot pink and purple design. “My daughter has strange tastes,” Graciela murmurs before asking Dulce what she thinks about a classic wedding cake topped with a Precious Moments doll wearing a princessy dress. The chef-owner of Bombon Bakery, Laura Cid-Perea, estimates that more than 15 percent of their cake orders are for quinceañera parties. “This year we’ve sold more quinceañera cakes than ever,” she said. “They’re a big and growing part of our business.” The trio samples slices of cake brought to them on a platter: the always popular tres leches (three-milk) cake; the convent cake made with Mexican rompope liquor; and a guayaba (guava) cream cheese cake. They agree on the guayaba cake, but change their mind when they worry that a four-layer cake might not hold up well on the 90-mile trip to Rockford. They would later buy the cake from a Rockford bakery.

Las damas (from left to right): Diana Martinez, Andrea Aldridge, Brisa Gonzalez, Adriana Suasegui, Kristina Dominguez, Daniela Gonzalez and Angelica Gonzalez.

The ‘Damas’

Two weeks left and Dulce has had enough of bridal shops. She takes three of her damas — Brisa, Adriana and Angelica — on a trip to look for a dress on Chicago’s Michigan Avenue. Destination: Forever 21, a retail chain that specializes in inexpensive hip and trendy clothing for young females. While Dulce’s mom and dad wait in the wings, the girls try on the store’s snazzy, youthful, flirty dresses, most of which are under $50. They choose a snug, strapless, hot pink, taffeta

bubble dress with a short skirt at a bargain price of $29. The other damas would later need to order the hot pink mini dress in their sizes. Dulce would have the chambelanes, who Graciela wanted to see dressed in black tuxedos, wear white tuxedos with a hot pink vest to match the color of the damas’ dress. “But Dulce, I’ve never seen damas dance the waltz in a hot pink mini dress,” her mother pleads. 53


ABOVE: Dulcemaria and her damas rehearse to a cumbia beat in dance instructor Romeo Zaleta’s driveway. RIGHT: Adrian Sandoval and Angelica Gonzalez practice a waltz.

The Choreography

Romeo Zaleta, a dance instructor in Rockford who specializes in quinceañera parties, choreographs about 15 such balls a year, usually in ten twohour sessions over three months. Dulce and her father, Juan Ramirez, have just finished rehearsing the father-daughter waltz. The damas and chambelanes have practiced their waltz for the umpteenth time, and now the girls are swaying their hips to a cumbia beat under a light rain in Zaleta’s driveway. The girls are practicing the choreography to a medley of tropical Latin dance music, a dance they’ll do after the waltz. They rehearse by themselves because the boys argue the steps are too hard to learn in order to perform “the surprise dance” that Dulce agreed to do just last week. But what about her dance crew? Dulce laments that her break-dancing crew backed out of taking part in the “surprise dance” she originally had in mind: her crew would break-dance around her while she danced to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” wearing a black jacket and a white studded glove. The thought horrified her mom. After months of costly preparations, the question hangs in the damp, drizzly air: Will the free spirit of the Ramirez family acquiesce to her parents’ wishes for a traditional, religious, fairy-tale quinceañera that will end up costing her family nearly $7,000?

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artdepartment TRADITIONS

Dulce sits near the altar during the religious ceremony at St. Patrick’s Church, where she was baptized.

Once Upon a Time

Once upon a time, in Rockford, Ill., a 15-year-old princess named Dulcemaria had the fairy tale quinceañera ball that her mother, Graciela Ramirez, had dreamed of at her age — only with some non-traditional touches. At St. Patrick’s Church, where Dulce was baptized, all eyes are fixed on the sophisticated young woman with dark, flowing curls walking down the aisle in a long, simple, softly flowing white gown that her sister Carla found on the Internet on During the traditional Mass of thanksgiving, the angelic-looking teenager wearing a tiara sits on an embroidered white cushion at the foot of the altar, surrounded by white flowers signifying the purity of her youth. Her parents, godparents, damas, chambelanes and guests listen solemnly in the pews to the priest’s blessing and the hymns sung by a young choir. After she is blessed by her parents and godparents, the madrinas (sponsors of the gifts) present her with a Bible, a rosary and a miniature bouquet. She is then handed a bouquet of roses that she places at the feet of a statue of the Virgin Mary in gratitude for her maternal protection. The guests burst into applause. After the mass, a black stretch limousine sweeps the princess in white and her court off to Rockford’s Klehm Arboretum and Botanic Garden, where a photographer takes pictures of them under the colonnade of a gazebo and around a burbling water fountain. In a grand ballroom at the riverside Cliffbreakers Banquet Hall, guests admire photographs of Dulce’s childhood, the traditional muñeca (a doll wearing a white laced dress that represents the debutante’s “last doll” and the end of her childhood) and a cupcake tower topped with a hot pink and white

zebra-striped cake surrounded by rose petals and chocolatecovered strawberries. Dulce and her court are greeted with the thundering applause of the 200 guests. Barefooted under her bride-beautiful dress — because she finds high-heeled shoes uncomfortable, she kicked hers off — she dances the waltz with her chambelanes and then dances alone at the center of the waltzing court. In keeping with her independent spirit, she has chosen to break with custom and not to have an escort herself. After the dance, champagne glasses are handed out and everyone toasts to the birthday girl who is entering womanhood. The room then turns silent for the father-daughter waltz. Dulce swirls gracefully around the dance floor with her father, Juan, who is wearing a black tuxedo. While they dance, he tears up as he listens to the lyrics of the song he has selected especially for this occasion, called “Mi niña bonita” (My Beautiful Girl). The song tells the story of a father who had wished for a son, but who, overwhelmed with the tender affection of his daughter, regrets that he had once wished for anything but the love of a daughter. Graciela, who looks radiantly happy watching them dance under the shimmering chandeliers, wipes away tears of joy. Her happiness is such that right before midnight, when the break-dancing crew arrives unexpectedly to surprise the birthday girl and the dancers pound their limbs fitfully on the dance floor, Graciela laughs and enjoys the end of a nearly perfect fairy-tale night.  For Graciela and her husband — and most importantly, she says, for Dulce — no price is too high for the special memory she says they enjoyed together as a family, a memory that will last a lifetime. 55




Looking for a match in the 21st Century? More people log on looking for love words

In the good old days, before the sexes winked at each other online, couples met the natural way: through friends, at a bar, at work, school, or just randomly. My parents met at a “singles bar” — which was common in the 1960s. But times, they have a-changed.

Marla Seidell photo alBerto Treviño illustration Judd Ortiz

That endeavor, which lasted about a year, resulted in more horror stories than romance. There was the guy with “amateur moves” who showed up 15 minutes late, touched her hand throughout the date, then dropped some money for the check and asked her to pay the rest. There was the guy who had a bleeding lip (and was aware of it) throughout the entire date.

Once taboo, online dating is becoming the norm. A report published by Jupiter Research predicts annual revenue from online dating sites in the U.S. will jump from $900 million in 2007 to $1.9 billion by 2012.

But despite some bad experiences, Diaz says online dating was “totally worth it.” A date with the lead singer of a rock band turned into a close friendship that Diaz maintains.

“It’s becoming more of a trend,” says Erick Rivera, a 27-yearold Latino comedian based in New York. Talking to the crowds at his shows across the country, Rivera says more and more couples say they met online. “Long gone are the days of high school sweethearts or friends hooking you up,” he says.

Similarly, 42-year-old real estate agent Dulce Ramos of Chicago found friendship, not love, online. Active on for two years, she simply didn’t connect with the men she dated. And although she did make friends, she went out with quite a number of duds.

Is that a good thing? Like many people, I have mixed feelings about trying to meet the love of your life in the same place you shop for books and read the news. In my case, a personal ad I posted resulted in two fakes: men who lied about their age and status. One turned out to be older and have kids, and the other was “separated,” not single.

There was the guy she calls “the mosquito,” the one she couldn’t stand whom she had to endure throughout an entire dinner. “Dinner was too much for a first date, and I was dying,” Ramos recalls. “Do coffee, don’t do dinner.”

“When it comes to online dating, some people lie,” notes Rivera. “It’s harder to sift through that; there are no BS filters.”

While still active on, Ramos bumped into her nowhusband, an old acquaintance, at a political event in Chicago. Although online dating wasn’t fruitful for Ramos she still recommends it. “Why not?” she says.

Rivera’s not the only one to experience the gulf between the virtual and real world. “It can be deceiving because it seems they [guys] are good with conversation, but when you meet them in person, it’s a totally different story,” says Lori Diaz, a 28-year-old Chicago actress and co-author of the comedy skit “Dominizuelan.”

In Ramos’s case, the problem may be demographics. Match. com is the most Latino-friendly dating site out there, in Ramos’ experience, but she found there were not enough Latino men to choose from. “There is a lack of quality Latino dating services,” she says. A brief stint on turned out to be worse. “There are not enough ethnic men on there,” says Ramos.

Following a breakup, Diaz put a profile on, an online magazine that focuses on love and sex. “I needed to get back out there,” she explains.

Despite her failure to find a mate online, Ramos developed a handful of male friendships from And she attributes success online to having the right attitude. “Don’t expect

56 Café FEBRUARY | MARCH 2010


“...there are no BS filters.” –Erick Rivera

illustration by judd ortiz

Prince Charming, but maybe it will lead to a business opportunity,” she points out.

home. “Online, you can reject a guy without feeling bad,” notes Esmeralda.

Vanessa Torres, Los Angeles-based author of, a community Web site for single women in transition, agreed: “Online dating is good for anyone who is openminded, but not expecting miracles.”

Taking advantage of free sites like and, Esmeralda went online to widen her network. “It was the only way of meeting guys for me because when I go out it’s always the same people,” she says. Although Esmeralda wouldn’t date a man who wasn’t Catholic, she decided to open up to another race when she realized she wasn’t getting a good response from Latinos. “Latinos online are either too young, too old or crazy!” she quips.

Torres says online dating is not particularly good for people who are naïve or have trouble dealing with rejection. But the ability to reject, or be rejected from a distance, is exactly what Rivera and 28-year-old Chicagoan Esmeralda (who requested that her real name not be used) like about it. “It’s good for guys — it saves on money and self-esteem,” observes Rivera. “You don’t have to cross a bar or club and say, ‘Hey, what’s up?’ and then do that sad walk of shame.” Online, the rejection takes place within the comfort of your

After a year of dating and still not meeting “the one,” Esmeralda made an ultimatum with God. “I told God, ‘I am tired of this, please do something, or I will give up,’ ” she recalls. After writing her last personal ad on, Esmeralda met her current boyfriend two weeks later: a Catholic Polish man her age. “It took me so long to find him, but I’m glad I took the chance,” she says. 57

“Onlin e dati ng is g beca ood ps use it ycholo helps you gica

believ lly e you “Onlin will m e dati eet so ng is a meone w a s i t t ’s easi e ” –Lori Dia er to m of time b z ecaus eet pe e ople in and it perso ’s all n abo

ut che



–David W ygant

A Waste Of Time? But online dating is not for everyone. Enrique, a 22-year-old computer technician in Bolingbrook who requested that his real name not be used, initially went on to following a break-up. He dated several “lovely” girls but does not recommend online dating (and especially not the free sites) because he did not find the caliber of women online up to par. “It’s perfect if you like girls who are on the dorkier/meatier side,” he says. And simply put, he said being on the site was a phase he grew out of. “The sick truth of the matter is, that if it wasn’t for the fact that I was going through a chubby phase, to put it gently, I wouldn’t have lasted [on the site] as long as I did,” he admits. Once Enrique gained the confidence he needed (and lost the weight), he no longer needed the site. “Online dating is a waste of time because it’s easier to meet people in person and it’s all about chemistry,” says David Wygant, a Los Angeles-based professional dating coach. Although he admits to using dating sites after a breakup, he claims to have experienced chemistry only with two people he met online. He finds it easier to gauge a connection in person. He met his current girlfriend at a music fair in Los Angeles, and both agree they would never go online. “There are so many better ways to spend your time,” he says. Clearly there are the downsides, such as the safety issue. According to Donna Andersen, creator of, a Web site that teaches people how to recognize and recover from sociopaths, and a survivor of marriage to a man who cleaned her out of more than $250,000 and turned out to be married to several women, it’s hard to detect sociopaths because they “appear to be normal.” “The Internet is a goldmine for sociopaths,” says Andersen. According to Andersen, sociopaths are people detached from feeling sympathy for others who view the world as divided between predators and prey. They are also capable of verbal and emotional abuse, and often use others for sex and money. Most sociopaths online can be identified by coming on strong in the beginning: Calling or texting frequently, professing love

58 Café FEBRUARY | MARCH 2010

quickly, erratic mood swings — all of these are tell-tale signs. And based on my experiences, it’s a good idea to watch out for the bugaboos. As Wygant suggests, men should avoid women who give out their number too quickly. And ladies, watch out for men who have just looked at your picture and not read your profile. But is online dating a good thing or a bad thing? Perhaps it’s just like anything else in life — it depends how you use it. Hay alguien para cado uno — there is someone for everyone — is Diaz’s mother’s mantra. “Online dating is good psychologically because it helps you believe you will meet someone,” says Diaz. Although Diaz met her current boyfriend through the comedy community, she says her online dating experiences, both good and bad, helped her get to the point of being ready for a new relationship. In a world where so many people have their eyes glued to their computer screens rather than the opposite sex, online dating – when done with the right outlook and necessary caution – can be a form of self-help and a dating jump-starter rolled into one. “You still got to go out and work that muscle,” says Diaz.

AVOIDING ONLINE PREDATORS Donna Andersen, creator of, lists the following red flags indicating predators: • Quickly proclaims love or feelings (Everybody knows that a man or woman does not say the L word in the first couple of weeks!) • Calling or e-mailing all the time in the beginning, or texting constantly. • Playing on your sympathy, or talking trash about their past. • Blames problems on other people. • Has no long-term friendships.


Despite some bad experiences, Lori Diaz still feels that online dating was “worth it.” | photo alberto treviño |

TOP 10 TIPS FOR ONLINE DATING 1. Pick a photo(s) that is recent (within the last 6 months) that reflects the real you. Don’t try to create someone you wish you could be.

8. Keep e-mail conversations light and cheerful, and don’t sell yourself.

2. Don’t give away personal information, such as where you

out of your league.

live, or your phone number in the first couple of e-mails.

3. Go with your gut. If someone feels strange, usually he or

9. Dare to flirt with the desirables — the people you think are 10. Communicate cultural differences: Don’t be afraid to say where your family is from and what languages you speak.

she is.

4. The first meeting is not a date. It should occur in a public place and alcohol should not be involved.

5. Go slow. Let people earn your trust. 6. Don’t invest any emotions in the first “meeting” and dates. Have low expectations, but maintain a positive attitude.

Sources: David Wygant, who blogs about dating, sex and relationships at; Latina advice columnist Letty Livingston, author of; Vanessa Torres, author of the community blog; Scot McKay, author of the online dating advice Web site; Dulce Ramos; Lori Diaz and Esmeralda.

For the complete version of these tips, go to

7. Cultivate your profile, as it’s a reflection of your life. 59



Clean Palate

60 Café FEBRUARY | MARCH 2010



Whether he’s cooking in your home or on TV, Chicago chef Paul Zavala aims for nothing less than extraordinary Joel Frieders alBerto Treviño words


The story you are about to read takes place in a kitchen: any kitchen, every kitchen. From taco joints, beef stands and breakfast cafés, to the Walnut Room and eventually landing at a Chicago culinary school, Paul Zavala has probably cooked something for you over the past decade. Zavala has been traipsing through the innards of the food industry since before he could drive. Now he’s striking out on his own, working as a chef-for-hire in any kitchen that’ll have him and coming up with spices that could add that extra spark to your dishes. Paul started out slinging carne al pastor and arrachera at Café Español on Madison Avenue near the United Center, running eggs and hash browns at Vince’s on Taylor Street, and buying products for his uncle, who introduced him early on to the art of produce purchasing. At 14 years old, Zavala was manhandling firm tomatoes and seductively caressing sides of beef before dawn in Chicago’s stockyards, at 43rd Street and Ashland Avenue. Soon after, he started writing menus, closing out the registers and basically managing these businesses as a young prodigy with a bloody apron. “After high school my mamá convinced me to attend a culinary school open house, and it turned out to be the only place I felt I could be myself, so I dug in,” Zavala says in between tastes of a dish he is preparing as he moves around in his McKinley Park scullery while humming the Canadian national anthem. This ability to create a balance with whatever he is presented with was apparent while first attending culinary school full time at the Cooking & Hospitality Institute of Chicago and working on the line at his uncle’s breakfast café. “Line cooking was intense!” Zavala exclaims as he goes from one stainless steel counter to the other, carving out a carrot rose garnish in mid-air, still humming — this time it sounds like the Chicago Bears fight song. “I learned very early on that if you weren’t centered, you weren’t shit in the kitchen.” A few months of omeletting and pancaking took young Zavala a step higher, as his culinary school connections earned him a holiday spot in the Marshall Fields’ Walnut Room kitchen. “I never in my life would have dreamed of getting my ass kicked the way I did at that restaurant. Ticket after ticket, I would dream about the sound of that printer,” Zavala utters while mincing ingredients for a mango and mint chutney. Soon after, Zavala was carted across the hall to the culinary concept Frango Café, where the lack of a chef in charge put Paul in the position of needing to learn how to manage inventory, organize a walk-in cooler and dry storage, order equipment and other tasks normally reserved for people with many more years of experience. “On my 19th birthday I was offered the executive sous chef position at Frango. I don’t think I had even had a whisker yet and here I was with ‘the book.’ I was running a kitchen, going to school, and still trying to be a 19-year-old,” says Paul, making a face as if to relay both excitement and disdain for reaching such an accomplishment without actually experiencing life in front of the kitchen window. 61


An Epiphany After noticing that he worked 30 days straight, Zavala did a little math and discovered that his earnings were about $4.65 an hour, not nearly what he felt his time, sweat and devotion was worth. Quickly catching on to “the one-way corporate language,” Zavala stayed for the experience and connections. But his perception of the work world had changed permanently. A few more run-ins with the short-end of the stick and Paul knew he needed to put his focus back into his education and earn a degree before becoming completely disgruntled with the service industry altogether.

has seen its potential grow considerably. Like a tumor pumped with MSG, yet completely lacking in actual MSG, this new concept is called Rattlesnake Blend, and it has gone from an accidental combination of a number of different ingredients to the spark Zavala’s career needed. Why rattlesnake? Is a dastardly snake finely ground to minutely complement the outer dimensions of the complex palate of this chef?

Zavala shakes his head while whisking a cocoa bean soufflé and explains: “In the book ‘The Food Lover’s Companion’ there is a term called ‘rattlesnake Since graduating from culinary bean’ and this bean requires school, Zavala has learned to a lot of spices and additions manage and operate off-site for it to acquire any type of flakitchens such as Blue Plate Cavor. This is what I think cooking tering and Food for Thought Cais all about. I agree that not all tering. Along the way, he also foods need to be enhanced with worked as “tournant chef” (a spices or herbs or flavorings, but chef without one specific job, even the smallest addition of salt who fills in wherever needed photo illustration by alberto treviño and pepper to a piece of fish or throughout the service industry) in the financial district, as well as an independent lunch truck a vegetable adds a dimension that wasn’t there to start with.” delivery guy, finally deciding to place an ad offering personal Using the meals his clients routinely cook as a template, Zavachef services. la started up an in-home show-and-tell, the “Hot & Sticky Tour,” Initially, Zavala got a few good bites, and now he has a group where he hops into their home kitchens and cooks one of their of steady clients who have been utilizing his palate and meal meals using his spice blend. From this taste experience, Zaservices for the past five years. Zavala has taken his life experi- vala has used the same neighborhood spirit that inspired his ence in kitchens of all statures and combined it with a degree concoction to create the Rattlesnake Collective, a group as in the culinary arts, a unique business sense and the fact that diverse as the ingredients in his blend: chefs, graphic designers, graffiti artists, promoters, clothing designers, musicians he knows what he DOESN’T want to do. and friends who come together to give a unique voice direct Zavala doesn’t want to be a slave stuck cutting onions julienne access to the culinary ear. in the back of a shack. He wants to cook, create and innovate, ultimately devising more useful methods and products to en- Zavala utilizes that relationship to create conversations that inspire new approaches to cooking. What else could a chef hance the cooking-at-home experience. want? One such innovation is a spice recipe that Zavala has assembled over the years, blending the suggestions and comments “Simply put, raise awareness,” he says. “There are many collecof his peers with his experiences in the cooking field. And he tives and co-ops across the world intending to make things work through their products or services. I honor their efforts because, like them, we are all looking for a better plan — that next thing. To inquire about getting yourself some Rattlesnake Some of us put our ideas to work and some of us just sit back Blend or to contact Paul Zavala about his in-home and watch the clouds roll by. If you intend something great and chef services, visit take that first step, God will present you with every opportunity to flourish.”

62 Café FEBRUARY | MARCH 2010

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Diamond in the rough words

Alejandro Riera photos Anthony Tahlier

With Yerba Buena on hiatus, CuCu Diamantes felt the time had come to work on her first solo album, “CuCuland.”

64 Café FEBRUARY | MARCH 2010


Nine years ago they set the Latin alternative scene on fire with Yerba Buena; now CuCu Diamantes and Andrés Levin embark on a new musical adventure She likes to think of herself as a gypsy. He, point blank, classifies himself as a mutt. She was born in Cuba, went to Rome to study art history and restoration and chose New York over Barcelona to pursue her career as an artist. He was born in Venezuela, his family is from Argentina, he carries a German passport, studied for a while in North Carolina before going back to Venezuela, and obtained a full scholarship at the Berklee School of Music in Boston before moving permanently to New York. New York, a city full of outsiders and a point of entry for many immigrants to this country, may be their home base, but Andrés Levin and Ileana Padrón (a.k.a. CuCu Diamantes) are globe trekkers, citizens of the world. They are driven by curiosity — learning about and absorbing all the elements of a specific culture and applying them to their big passion: music. They complement each other even though their minds, at first glance, seem to operate on separate tracks. Andrés expresses his ideas and points of view clearly, in a deep voice with the accuracy of a sniper pointing his long-range rifle at a target hundreds of miles away. But to engage CuCu in a conversation is to find oneself involved in a Gabriel García Márquez novel. She is the quintessential personification of “stream of consciousness” thought: CuCu can segue from one unfinished idea to another, one anecdote to another, and then circle back minutes later to where she started. Her mind is as restless as her stage persona. This unique partnership set the Latin alternative music scene ablaze nine years ago when they recruited a group of recently exiled Cuban musicians and vocalists, like Xiomara Laugart and Descemer Bueno, and put them together with the cream of the crop of New York’s music scene to create Yerba Buena. Their rambunctious live shows were the talk of the nation thanks in great part to their combustible fusion of Afro-Caribbean and American urban rhythms. Artists like actor John Leguizamo, drummer Horacio “El Negro” Hernández, trumpeter Brian Lynch (a veteran of Eddie Palmieri’s orchestra) and Cuban hip-hop outfit Orishas collaborated on their two albums, “President Alien” and “Island Life.” “Yerba Buena is born because we met. If it wasn’t for CuCu there would be no Yerba Buena, bar none,” declared Andrés last fall during an interview at the Whitehall Hotel in Chicago’s Gold Coast. “She knows all of this music from Cuba and I think the mutual desire to do something crazy and start a 12-piece band with no money, no label, had a lot to do with a passion for the culture.” “He was the father and I was the mother [of Yerba Buena],” added CuCu minutes later. “We were giving to the whole collective and after nine years of Yerba Buena, Chino, one of the singers, went away, Xiomara went to do her solo project [and star in the off-Broadway play, ‘Celia: The Life and Music of Celia Cruz’] and we co-produced Pedrito Martinez’s ‘Slave to Africa’.”

CuCu Diamantes amd Andrés Levin at Rhumba last fall. | photo Julieta Alvarez |

So, with Yerba Buena on a brief hiatus, CuCu felt the time was right to work on her first solo album. Co-produced by Andrés and Yotuel Romero of Orishas, “CuCuland” finds inspiration in the German cabarets of the 20s and 30s and the Cuban casinos of the 50s. But, musically, the album is anything but retro. CuCu, Andrés and Yotuel mix in a giant blender a wide array of genres that is as forward-thinking as Andrés’ work for such critically acclaimed Latin alternative groups like Aterciopelados and El Gran Silencio. The album’s 12 songs celebrate female empowerment while playing off on CuCu’s flamboyant on-stage persona. “What was definitely the backbone was the emotion and the sensitivity of her lyrics and her persona,” explained Andrés. “As an artist, it was really interesting to build a world around her”. “I had other love stories before I met Andrés. I’ve been writing about that and I’ve been writing to things that have happened to people who are close to me,” said CuCu. “What happened to them touched me too because they are like my family.” Growing up in a female dominated environment also influenced her songwriting and her outlook on life. CuCu humorously describes the Padrón household as “La casa de Bernarda Alba,” referring to Federico García Lorca’s play about a matriarch who holds dictatorial control over her five daughters. “My grandmother and my lesbian aunt, my Mom’s sister, raised me,” recalled CuCu. “I used to love my grandmother, but she was Bernarda Alba for real. She was super, super conservative. My aunt is the one who told me to go out of Cuba. She called me when I was finishing [my studies in] Rome and told me to never come back. ‘This is not your place. Go on, go on.’ She’s the one who gave me the strength to be who I am. “I love women. I have a lot of women friends. I hate women who hate and don’t support women. I think I’m a little bit like my aunt,” CuCu added. 65


Although she started her musical career singing background vocals for a salsa band in Rome and was one of the leading vocalists of Yerba Buena, CuCu felt that she still had a lot to learn before she went into the studio to produce “CuCuland.” “I don’t like to have doubts about something. When I’m sure, I’m sure. So [the production] was a process of learning, to see what I like, to really concentrate the best of me…When I finished the record I was, ‘I am not happy, it is not finished yet, it needs more’.” Yotuel was brought on board partly as a referee between CuCu and Andrés and partly to give him the opportunity to showcase his talent as a songwriter and producer. “Because we are a couple it made perfect sense to not do everything,” said Andrés. “So, boom, they got together and started riffing on ideas. It was the perfect balance. He is super talented. I think he is going to be a great producer. He is a great songwriter and both of them being from Cuba, that whole cubaneo really comes seeping out on this record.” But “CuCuland” is more than a record. It has been designed as a theatrical experience as well. Andrés and CuCu have hired a theater and a lighting director to design sets for the show “but we haven’t had the budget to do the whole thing with sets and in a theater,” admitted Andrés, who produced the Grammy award winning Original Broadway Cast Recording of “In the Heights”. “Mas fuerte,” the first single from “CuCuland” was nominated last year to a Latin Grammy for “Best Alternative Song.” For her tour, CuCu has invited local vaudeville, cabaret and avant-garde artists to appear at her shows. In fact, the couple always goes out of their way to invite local artists to their performances. At last year’s “Paz sin fronteras” concert produced by Juanes and held in Havana, Cuba, they invited the members of the traditional rumba group Yoruba Andabo to perform alongside them. And in Chicago, during one of their appearances with Yerba Buena, they invited two national balloon champions, ages 10 and 12, they met in an elevator to create balloons for their show at the now defunct Hothouse. “Every thing that we do, every time we go out with someone, it’s like we are either creating a relationship or coming up with an idea or being inspired with something that is going to end up in a project or a record or a movie. It is what we love to do. It is not work,” said Andrés. “Everywhere we go, we try to learn and get the best of that experience,” added CuCu. “We are very adventurous. When we work we are very serious, but when we go on a trip, on my God, anything can happen.”

66 Café FEBRUARY | MARCH 2010

| photo anthony tahlier |

The Road Ahead for CuCu and Andrés • These next two months will see the U.S. release of two albums co-produced by Andrés: “Métodos de placer instantáneo” by México’s Aleks Syntek, one of the pioneers of that country’s electro-pop movement (Feb. 9); and “Leave Your Sleep”, Natalie Merchant’s first album in eight years, which consists of 29 Victorian poems brought to life through different styles of music (March 2). • Andrés and CuCu will be working on CuCu’s second solo album this year which might be released on the summer or fall. • Andrés and CuCu are also preparing the next phase of Yerba Buena, which could very well turn into a musical. • Last year, Andrés launched Pirata, a full service radio and post-production facility focused in bringing new ideas to advertising agencies.


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Making It

Personal Artist Angel Otero’s intimate art forms are catching collectors’ eyes words

Benjamin Ortiz


Robbie Lee

Angel Otero’s first art assignment came from his grandmother, back in Bayamón, Puerto Rico, when her plants died. “She would make me put a stick next to the plant that was dead,” he recalls, “and make me attach the plant with some sort of cord around the stick, so the neighbors wouldn’t know that her plants were dead — so the plant could still be standing up.” 69


You might call this his first experiment in creating a “still life” as a figurative domestic illusion. Otero remembers such things from his upbringing with “Abita,” as he calls his grandma, the woman most responsible for influencing his rise from copying Hello Kitty designs and cartoon characters to forging a solid artistic career as an award-winning painter and sculptor. At 28, “he has done in one year what many young artists might take a decade to do,” says Gail Levin, director of the Leonore Annenberg Scholarship and School Fund, which awarded Otero its Fellowship in the Arts for 2009. With an impressive collegiate and post-graduate career recently accomplished at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), Otero has garnered raves and buzz, along with his awards, as a young artist of international significance who is in high demand. 70 Café FEBRUARY | MARCH 2010

But it all started with “Abita.” All the little details of how grandma creatively conceived of a warm home space persisted in Otero’s mind years later when he found himself shut up in a Chicago studio with snow falling outside. The plant-pots and vases, little porcelain figurines, the doilies and hand-woven coverings that turn wooden planks into a family table, “I started taking these memories and objects and confronting them…all these things have been pretty much my major subject matter,” says Otero.


cOtero creates abstractions based on his memories of growing up in Puerto Rico.

Angel Otero at his studio in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn.

The exhibit “Angel Otero: New Paintings” provides a sampling of works showing his artistic trajectory from school to New York, where he currently holds studio space thanks to the Annenberg award. This exhibit of 12 to 15 new works is “Otero’s largest solo show to date,” announces the Chicago Cultural Center, whose Sidney R. Yates Gallery is hosting the showing of pieces from private collections and Otero’s studio. Lanny Silverman, Curator of Exhibitions with the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, points out the artist’s “unusual use of materials, the blending of collage and painting, effects of illusion of what’s real and what’s painted, and very personal content” as all notable facets of the show.

In an interview with Café Magazine, Otero speaks from his studio in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn, where he had just rushed back from the New Art Dealers Alliance (NADA) fair in Miami. His work quickly sold out on the morning of exhibition to collectors and museums. On his way over to a show at the Leyendecker Gallery of the Spanish Canary Islands, Otero is still pumped up from NADA, where two museums acquired some of his works. With humility, he mentions thinking about his family while in Miami: “My family was never very [much] into cultural interests or the fine arts or nothing like that…So I think about my family because they were very difficult towards what was my interest in art. [They’d say,] ‘Don’t study that because it’s not going to bring us food, you know?’” Otero recounts this story with nothing but affection for his family in his voice, even though now, “I can say a museum bought a painting, which is the most important step of any artist’s career, and they don’t really get it at all.” Otero describes his process now as experimenting with materials and creating abstractions based in familial commonplaces and scraps of inspiration from Puerto Rico, including the mountains and twisting cities built into the mountains. Even so, he does not create literal render-

Information Angel Otero: New Paintings and Sculpture When: Ends March 28 Where: Sidney R. Yates Gallery, Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington St., Chicago Info: (312) 744-6630,

ings of the island, instead opting for less obvious and more quietly personal references to growing up in Bayamón. “There is a story he’s telling about his past, about the rich visual culture that surrounded him as a child,” says Lisa Wainwright, Interim Dean of Faculty, Dean of Graduate Studies at SAIC and one of Otero’s mentors. “He takes the still life as his armature, as his constant subject, and then he does things to it, he does remarkable things to it, and it’s pretty pleasing to see a format that you recognize in the history of art updated in a way that is radically new.” Otero still thinks it’s a wild idea that a skinny Puerto Rican kid from Bayamón has gone so far. He’s now relocated to the Bushwick neighborhood because he sees it as a promising arts district comparable to Williamsburg or the Lower East Side. Nonetheless, he is thinking seriously of returning to Chicago at some point, the city whose cold winters inspired him to stay in the studio longer and get more work done. 71



National Geographic Crittercam: The World through Animal Eyes When: Ends April 11 What: Developed by National Geographic, the Crittercam looks at animal behavior from the perspective of the animals. This new exhibit lets you experience life as these animals do through a series of multimedia activities and firsthand footage. Where: Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, 2430 N. Cannon Drive, Chicago Admission: Adults, $9; students and seniors over 60, $7; children 3-12, $6 Hours: Monday to Friday, 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Info: (773) 755-5100, Benito Juárez and the Making of Modern Mexico/Abraham Lincoln Transformed When: Ends April 12 What: The Chicago History Museum presents these complementary exhibitions that take a close look at two of the most influential figures of the Americas: Benito Juárez and Abraham Lincoln. “Benito Juárez and the Making of Modern Mexico” presents over 25 national treasures from Mexico that have never been exhibited in the United States. “Abraham Lincoln Transformed” examines the fundamental change in Lincoln’s views about slavery and the Union that changed America. Where: Chicago History Museum, 1601 N. Clark St., Chicago

72 Café FEBRUARY | MARCH 2010

< Celia: The Life and Music of Celia Cruz When: March 18-21 What:The Off-Broadway hit musical finally makes it to Chicago after successful presentations in Miami, Tenerife, Spain and San Juan, Puerto Rico. Written by the husband and wife team of Carmen Rivera and Candido Tirado, “Celia: The Life and Music of Celia Cruz” will take audiences on a journey through her life and music as told by her husband, Pedro Knight. Where: Athenaeum Theater, 2936 N. Southport Ave., Chicago Admission: $35, $55, $75, and $100 for a VIP package that includes a post-performance meetand-greet with cast members, an official “Celia” polo shirt and coffee mug. Showtimes: March 18 and 19, 7:30 p.m.; March 20, 5 p.m. and 9 p.m.; March 21, 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Info: (800) 982-2787,

Admission: Adults, $14; seniors (over 65) and students (13-22 with ID), $12 Hours: Monday to Saturday, 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.; Sunday, 12-5 p.m. Info: Resiliency: Latin America Contemporary Photography When: Feb. 2-April 1 What: PHotoEspaña, the International Festival of Photography and Visual Arts of Madrid, joins forces with the Instituto Cervantes to present this touring exhibit of Latin American photography. The exhibit features the works of 10 young photographers who participated in this year’s edition of “PHE Discoveries” in Latin America. The works present diverse perspectives on society and its ability to adapt and excel while being affected by continuous fluctuations. Where: Instituto Cervantes, 31 W. Ohio St., Chicago Info: (312) 335-1996, The Joffrey Ballet: Cinderella When: February 17-28 What: Created by Sir Frederick Ashton with music by Serge Prokofiev and considered one of the greatest ballet adaptations of a fairy tale, “Cinderella” tells the well-known story of a poor young woman mistreated by her stepmother and stepsisters (the latter portrayed by male dancers) who turns into a beautiful princess. Where: Auditorium Theater, 50 E. Congress

Pkwy., Chicago Admission: $25-$145 Showtimes: Wednesday (Feb. 17 only), 7:30 p.m.; Friday, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, 2 p.m. Info: Conrad Herwig’s Latin Side All-Star Band/ Eliane Elias When: February 19, 8 p.m. What: Conrad Herwig, Eddie Palmieri’s favorite trombonist brings together a coalition of Latino and mainstream jazz musicians to explore the Latin Side of Miles David, John Coltrane and Herbie Hancock. Brazilian pianist Elias will open the concert with songs from her latest CD, “Bossa Nova Stories.” Where: Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago Admission: $18-$70 Info: Patti Vasquez and Steve Cochran When: February 20, 8 p.m. What: The Irish Mexican comedian and creator of the hit one-woman show “Mamacita” joins forces with WGN-AM’s Steve Cochran for a night full of hilarity and mirth. Where: Prairie Center for the Arts, 201 Schaumburg Court, Schaumburg Admission: $20 Info: (847) 895-3600,

calendar Beyond Flamenco: Finding Spain in Music When: March 4-6 What: Conceived by Spanish novelist Antonio Muñoz-Molina and music historian Joseph Horowitz, this three-day series proposes to demystify and challenge stereotypes of Spanish culture. Programs will feature a combination of poetry and music, highlighting the works of such composers as Manuel de Falla and Isaac Albeniz. Where: Mandel Hall, University of Chicago, 1131 E. 57th St., Chicago Admission: General, $20; students, $5 Showtimes: March 4 and 5, 7:30 p.m.; March 6, 8 p.m. Info: (773) 702-8068,

Ballet Folklórico de México de Amalia Hernández When: March 13 and 14 What: Founded in 1952 by Amalia Hernández, the Ballet Folklórico is recognized as one of the premier ambassadors of Mexican culture. The company’s repertoire explores the dancing traditions of Mexico, from north to south, from the pre-Columbian era to the present time. Where: Auditorium Theater, 50 E. Congress Pkwy., Chicago Showtimes: March 13, 7:30 p.m.; March 14, 3 p.m. Admission: $30, $40, $50, $65 Info:

Matisse and the Methods of Modern Mammoths and Mastodons: Titans of the Construction Ice Age When: March 20-June 20 When: March 5-Sept. 6 What: Henri Matisse is regarded as one of the What: This brand new exhibit at the Field great French artists of the 20th Century and Museum introduces you to Lyuba, the bestthis exhibit focuses on his most demanding, preserved baby mammoth in the world. Video experimental and enigmatic works, produced installations take you back to a time when between 1913 and 1917. saber-toothed cats and giant bears roamed the Where: Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S. frozen Earth. Michigan Ave., Chicago Where: Field Museum of Natural History, 1400 Admission: Adults, $18; children, students and S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago seniors (over 65), $12; children under 14, Free UN-CafeAd:Layout LUN-CafeAd:Layout LUN-CafeAd:Layout 1 1 12/23/09 1 12/23/09 12/23/09 3:46 3:46 3:46 PMPMPM Page Page Page 1 1Info: 1 Info:

Los Lobos When: March 20, 7 p.m. What: More than 20 years ago, this Chicano rock group asked themselves, “How Will the Wolf Survive?” They have answered their own question by putting out a series of daring albums that defied easy categorization. Equally comfortable playing rock, sones veracruzanos and Disney songs, Los Lobos definitely bring the house down. Where: The Center for Performing Arts at Governors State, 1 University Parkway, University Park Admission: $36, $49, $56 Info: Arturo Sandoval/Darwin Noguera When: March 20, 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. What: It’s been quite awhile since trumpet virtuoso and Irakere co-founder Arturo Sandoval has performed in Chicago. Chicago-based Nicaraguan pianist and composer Darwin Noguera will open the show. Where: Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago Admission: General, $38; Old Town School Members, $36; seniors and kids, $34 Info: (773) 728-6000,

Luna Luna Luna Negra Negra Negra Dance Dance Dance Theater Theater Theater welcomes welcomes welcomes artistic artistic artistic director director director GUSTAVO GUSTAVO GUSTAVO RAMÍREZ RAMÍREZ RAMÍREZ SANSANO SANSANO SANSANO JOIN JOIN JOIN US US US FOR FOR FOR OUR OUR OUR SPRING SPRING SPRING SEASON SEASON SEASON asas we aswe we celebrate celebrate celebrate the the the year year year ofof Mexico ofMexico Mexico with with with the the the world world world premiere premiere premiere ofof Frida! ofFrida! Frida! byby Michelle byMichelle Michelle Manzanales Manzanales Manzanales

Saturday, Saturday, Saturday, March March March 27, 27, 27, 2009 2009 2009 atat8:00 at8:00 8:00 pm pm pm

Tickets Tickets Tickets $25–$55 $25–$55 $25–$55 73


Call Call Call 312-334-7777 312-334-7777 312-334-7777 oror visit orvisit visit


Harris Harris Harris Theater Theater Theater in in Millennium inMillennium Millennium Park Park Park


Colombian Exposition From empanadas and coffee to music, one Chicago coffee shop raises the profile of a South American country words

Benjamin Ortiz photos Abel Arciniega

Leo Suárez believes that the empanada will be the next taco. “The empanada is the emblematic street food of Latin America,” he says of the traditional stuffed turnover. He thinks this tasty fritter has the potential to be as popular as Mexican cuisine. In fact, he’s betting that Colombian food and music are in line to gain widespread acceptance in the United States. If that’s so and his wager pays off, then Chicago will be the epicenter of a Colombian empanada and coffee kingdom to rival Starbucks. Owner of the two Las Tablas establishments, Suárez, 25,  opened Macondo Colombian Coffee & Empanadas shop across the street from the popular Lincoln Avenue steakhouse location in October. With his new business — named in tribute to the archetypal Latin American village from Gabriel García Márquez’s “100 Years of Solitude” — Suárez aims to franchise not only the empanada but also the culture of Colombia’s Afro-Latino Caribbean coast. “Fast-forward 15 years from now, and Colombian music is going to be just as accepted in the mainstream as Cuban music and Brazilian music,” he argues. Enter the Macondo coffee shop and you experience the flavor of Barranquilla, where Suárez was born. Tambora and alegre drums mark irresistible cumbia rhythms that mingle with coffee steam and the piquant aroma of “Chicago’s only single-origin organic Colombian espresso blend.” Order a tangy cup of Juan Valdez CaféReale direct from the Federación Nacional de Cafeteros de Colombia. Macondo is the first spot in Chicago to serve

74 Café FEBRUARY | MARCH 2010

the farmer-owned brand that supports social programs back in Colombia. A barista wearing a sombrero vueltiao — the popular campesino hat handwoven from caña flecha cane strips — will serve your coffee and a fresh-baked pastel gloria, a flaky pastry shell filled with guava paste (bocadillo) and maybe arequipe (dulce de leche caramel). While you’re waiting, you can watch wild performances of Bullerengue and Champeta music on DVD with Colombian cantadoras Totó la Momposina and Petrona Martinez, or enter a tiled alcove

where handcrafted hats, purses and jewelry are on display, or read a book from the Spanish-language library among reproductions of Fernando Botero paintings. You can also buy a music CD or take home Colombian goods such as candies and chocolates. If you’re hungry for something a bit more hearty than the pastries prepared fresh every morning by Macondo’s Colombian baker, José Chavez, then try the almuerzo corriente, a commonplace Colombian meal, with pinchos (skewers) of beef or chicken, rice and beans, and plátano maduro (ripe plantains).


Macondo is more than just coffee and empanadas: you can buy Colombian handcrafted hats, books, music and goods such as candies and chocolates.

But don’t forget the empanadas! Cooked in the style of Tolima province in central Colombia, these corn flour-shelled goodies are fried in non-trans fat vegetable oil. Macondo says it’s “the only empanadafocused business in Chicago” that offers completely gluten-free fritters. Macondo’s Tolima-style empanadas are somewhat smaller than other kinds and come two per order. The tradicional pays homage to the standard beef and potato empanada, but there are many variations. Try one with mozzarella cheese and spicy chipotle sauce, or mozzarella with guava, or chicken, all with a side of savory ají hot sauce. Suárez is ready to roll out new empanada fillings, and he will solicit customer requests for their favorite ingredients. But don’t tell him it’s not authentic Colombian food. “The empanadas that we sell here are from the exact same recipe that my grandmother fed her family on,” he says. “She would literally wake up before dawn to make about 500 empanadas, and my father, when he was a kid, would take them to this truck stop on the highway along the path to Bogotá to sell them, and that’s how they lived.”

Suárez didn’t plan on becoming a restaurateur, but the family business of Las Tablas swallowed him up after his studies at Northwestern University. He hopes to pursue a PhD in ethno-musicology someday. Meanwhile, he mixes music with business by co-sponsoring performances around town, bringing groups to Las Tablas, managing the traditional AfroColombian Grupo Rebolú, based in New York City, providing musical direction for the dance company Tierra Colombiana and performing with percussion group Ngoma Alegre.

More Info Macondo Colombian Coffee and Empanadas Where: 2965 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago Hours: Sunday - Thursday, 8 a.m.-8 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 8 a.m.-9 p.m. Info: (773) 698-6867

As if all of that weren’t enough, he sees Macondo becoming a franchised fairtrade coffee shop that will have its own non-profit music label to record and preserve endangered Colombian culture while contributing to community survival in South America. “I’m trying to change the one-note overall perception of Colombia held by Americans, other Latinos and even some Colombians,” he says with zeal. “From a business standpoint, the culture has so much potential, and I want to be at the forefront of that now, in the early stages.”

Leo Suárez, owner of Macondo Colombian Coffee & Empanadas, wants to promote Colombia’s culture. 75

Conoce Mi Panamá 3054 W. Armitage Ave., Chicago (773) 252-7440 Panama finally gets some love on Chicago’s Latino culinary scene. The menu of this Logan Square restaurant offers a wide variety of rice, fish and chicken dishes like arroz con pollo, arroz con gandules (with subtle hints of coconut), red snapper and pescado en escabeche. There are vegan and vegetarian options and traditional appetizers like the patacones (Panama’s answer to tostones).

Dig in! BYOB


Cash only

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 sándwich 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.

76 Café FEBRUARY | MARCH 2010



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 Ave., 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.

DeColores 1626 S. Halsted St., Chicago (312) 226-9886 This Pilsen restaurant/art gallery is split into two areas: a cozy dining area upstairs for private parties and a lively bar downstairs (although DeColores

is still BYOB). The menu focuses on recipes from the Michoacan and Zacatecas regions, and includes such dishes as taquitos de papa (stuffed with wild rose red potatoes and topped with squash, beets, carrots, Mexican chayote and queso fresco with a tomato citrus sauce) and camarones diabólicos (shrimp marinated in habanero chiles and red onions).

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 carries a Day of the Dead motif created by local artists. The menu includes traditional entries 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.

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).

for lunch and a wide variety of Mexican dishes for dinner.

Sabor Saveur 2013 W. Division St., Chicago (773) 235-7310 Mexique now has some competition with another restaurant focusing on the culinary connections between Mexico and France. Among the entrees: chocolate-braised salmon filet, lobster enchiladas, seabass filet al pastor. Stick around for dessert: pineapple arroz con leche, figs and coconut ante and cream cheese napoleon are among the offerings.

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.

Zocalo 358 W. Ontario St., Chicago (312) 302-9977 This award-winning restaurant offers a menu that highlights Mexico’s regional cuisine, from braised and slow-roasted meats in Yucatan-style marinades to classic Oaxacan moles. Among the offerings: a trio of guacamoles accompanied by corn and plaintain chips; camarones al mojo de ajo (jumbo grilled shrimp in a white wine-garlic butter sauce); puntas de res en salsa borracha (grilled skirt steak in pasillamezcal salsa) and carne al pastor (adobo-marinated pork tenderloin with creamy tomatillo salsa). Zocalo offers more than 130 varieties of tequila.

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

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. 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 event in this large and rustic brick-walled spot on the West Side.   SOUTH AMERICAN Brasa Roja 3424 W. Irving Park Rd., Chicago (773) 866-1966 Brasa Roja joins the growing list of Latino restaurants in Chicago that are branching out by opening sister operations. Like its Montrose Avenue counterpart, this restaurant specializes in Colombianstyle whole roasted chicken.

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 chese). Entrees include pescado encocado (fish cooked in coconut sauce) and the Galapagos fried rice, as well as a wide variety of sushis.

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, The menu features such staples as 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. 77


Xenia Diaz and Fernando Diaz

We look Trey Berre and Maria Ponce

Forward photos alBerto


Close to 2,000 people could not wait to bid farewell to 2009. And they did it for a good cause. HighSight, a not-for-profit organization that provides academic and social support to high school students, held its annual Eve of the Eve Party on Dec. 30 at the Great Hall of Chicago’s Union Station, 210 S. Canal St.

Burk Kalb, Thi Ly and Eddie Ocon

Malissa Barreiro, Lisa Malanowski and Nina Barreiro 78 Café FEBRUARY | MARCH 2010

Miguel Payan and Elizabeth Jones

Ingrid Gonzalez and Tony Redelsperger

Christina Rodriguez and Vera Napoleon

Anand Sheth, Allegra Rosber

Cathleen Lorenz and Phil Boyd


Chicas dancing

Sandy Davila, Israel Torres, Luis Baena

Rosalia Gaspar, Emiliano Rojas

pilsenbeats photos elia alamillo

Musicians and music lovers alike celebrated the release of the locally produced “Pilsen Soundtrack 1.0” at Rumba, 351 W. Hubbard, on Dec. 17. The independent production showcases the work of seven bands living and working in the Chicago neighborhood of Pilsen.

Azul De Noche

Adrianne G., Dia L., Carlos Ortega

TRIBALflow photos Julieta


Palenke Soul Tribe brought their fusion of electronica and dance beats with Colombian folk rhythms to Chicago for the first time on Dec. 3. The LA-based Colombian band played for a select group of cafeteros at The Shrine, 219 S. Wabash Ave.

Relaxing to Palenque’s Colombian vibe.

Palenke Soul Tribe

Krystal Martinez, Nicole Perez

Clark Nelson (center), Myong Park (right) and friend

Marta Duran, Cesar Vazquez, Jessie Duran 79


¡Se lo perdieron!


y parents always made me try everything. I didn’t turn out to be very good at basketball, (I wasn’t even 5 feet tall until I graduated from high school!) and I didn’t win the election for class president in 8th grade, but all of this was met with “Their loss!” or “¡De lo que se perdieron!” I would bounce back from a slight disappointment. Eventually, from trying everything, I found things I was good at. I have been fortunate to build upon these strengths ever since, which has helped me find success both in my career and in meeting personal goals. What most impacted me is that I learned it’s okay to fail at things. The feeling of not making something is much easier to overcome than the feeling of regret for not trying something and missing out on a new experience or adventure.

— Valerie Amador, Los Angeles

Congratulations Diana Cruz! Your “A mí me enseñaron” entry in the May/June 2009 edition was chosen as the winner of two roundtrip tickets courtesy of Southwest Airlines.

80 Café FEBRUARY | MARCH 2010 To read the winning submission go to

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