Saturday, January 30, 2010

Teddy Pendergrass - Love TKO vrs. Ahmad - Back in the Day



Sunday, January 17, 2010

Christmas Traditions - Nacimientos, AND the white version; Winter Wonderland

Returning Catracho Report images

"Nacimientos" (Nativity Scenes) are a big deal in Latino families, the ones that aren't Pentecostals anyway. Growing up Pentecostal meant that Christmas celebrations consisted of prayer and worship vigils until 2 A.M., if the holy spirit chilled for longer, the vigils could run until 5 or 6 in the morning!!! We didn't have Nativity Scenes or Santa Clause, that's Idolatry. Pentecostals don't get down like that. Asking for a present from Santa Claus gets you 2 hours of kneeling over rice or a beating with an electrical cord. "Which do you want? Tell me know or you get both!" I think being frugal and a disciplinarian are requirements for the Pentecostal sect. I do recall a Christmas tree and gifts a few years, ironically that time coincides with my step father's... uhhhh... most lucrative venture, but that's another blog.

Nativity Scenes can be spotted all over L.A., but never realized that people obsess over these toy figurine landscapes. My first bit of insight to this craze was Christmas time at the suegros' (to be), I wasn't aware of the tradition at that time. Rosa's mom had a ridiculously expensive baby Jesus and the remains of three other broken and equally expensive babies she refused to part with. I thought of it as a weird collector's item like, Faberge eggs. What is up with those eggs, I wonder. It wasn't until Christmas 09 that I realized how crazy these nativity scenes really get. I was in Honduras in 2008 and completely missed the Nacimientos that year!!! Makes me wonder what else I've missed out on...? This is "connecting with your roots," folks! This seems like a cool tradition for my family, or maybe I'll just convert every December and not have to buy anyone presents.

This is way more than a Nativity Scene, this is Bethlehem... Or Tegucigalpa back in the day

Ladies making Baleadas and cooking on "Barriles", a lady bleeding a pig, clowns, a wedding and quincianera in the same place!!!

A cow (I think) being slaughtered, soon to be decapitated chickens on a table, clowns, a bunch of Chiquita Banana ladies, Baleadas and Barriles

They even made a cemetery.

This is the Gringo version... It even photographs better!

When I saw this I immediately noticed two things; 1.) Everyone is participating in recreational activities, not working. 2.) No JESUS!

Everyone seems so much happier in this setting. The only people without a smile on their face are the chubby guy in shock over the light post not having an energy saving bulb and the clown that made it over from the Honduran Nativity Scene.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Los Barriles - Tegucigalpa

"Los Barriles" is a great spot for late night food, drinks, and entertainment. By drinks, I mean beer and "Yuscaran", and by food I mean the tiny little "boquitas" that accompany the purchase of aforementioned drinks. You can also buy a plate of meat, but most people try to get their steak's worth in boquitas. The entertainment is provided by numerous nomad groups that roam the streets of the area know as "Los Barriles" within Villa Adela. This area is referred to as "Los Barriles" because of all the places that roll out the metal barrels to grill meat on. We chilled at my father's favorite place, simply known as "Tia Delsy".

They keep the empty beer bottles on the table and count them once you're done. This keeps drunk people from arguing that they drank less and should pay less than what they really consumed.

This guy was so excited about this group he had to jump out of his seat and start dancing

Yuscaran is a potent alcoholic drink made from sugar cane. Someone at a table a few feet away from us poured a little out on the ground, a ritual known in L.A. as "For the homies [that have passed]", and it seemed to sizzle and release fumes as it made contact with the ground

Sopa de caracol... Hey!

Get your shine on!

Go from whack

To all that... and a bag of plantain chips!

You will inevitably walk out of this place with blurry vision!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Food Review: Mariela's Taco - Los Angeles, CA

View Marielas in a larger map

I had to do a review to make up for the "You know you live in the ghetto when..." post!

I have to begin by clearly stating that I'm not a food critic, or even have refined taste. It wasn't until a few years back that the creamy, delectable garbanzo substance that is hummus stopped tasting like vomit to me.

Mariela's Taco serve's the best Mexican Food in L.A. (outside of Rosa's family of course). I don't mean "Mexican" food like La Salsa or Baja Fresh, I'm talking about Quincianera style Mexican food. No Mango salsa here.

As you walk in you are bombarded with all the colors, I'm not referring to the dozens and dozens of "Jesus Loves You" stickers, I'm referring to the colors of an authentic Latino kitchen creating an image similar to a Diego Rivera piece. The Mariela's staff works in a Jackson Pollack nature as some frantically peel and dice veggies, cook and chop the meats you love and the ones you should probably eat before learning what they really are, stir beans, soups, and natural drinks like horchata with immense ladles while others use smooth deliberate movements to fold burritos (an art not yet mastered in Honduras), dollop the perfect amount of salsa on tacos or sprinkle cilantro on your plate as the finishing touch. The staff has ample opportunity to display their talents in the artistic assembly line with the countless other Mexican staples that are on display behind a glass barrier for everyone to gawk at. Whatever you want, they've got, from sopes to sopa marinera, it's all there.

Visible cooking and preparation areas are almost mandatory for me while eating out. I like to think of myself as picky, my fiancee Rosa would call it more along the lines of fastidious or capricious. In the end, I let my personal experience working in food service (once and never more!) create my irks and quirks with where I eat (Although that's changed drastically since living in Honduras). Ever since working at a cafe / sandwich restaurant I've become paranoid about who serves me. I need to be able to see my food, more kudos if I can see it being cooked too! I'm also real picky about the people that serve me. I love the service at Marielas, the people there are nice and more patient that the people on the other side of the glass. The worst food service employees are disgruntled white people, you can't get any nastier than them. Where I come from playing with peoples food, money and women can get you killed. We don't play around like that. I'm traumatized over my experience. I always had a bad feeling about eating at places like the Cheesecake Factory or P.F. Chang's (although I love Chang's!) because they have too many white people in waiting positions. I used to always be concerned about whether the white boy serving me just had a bad audition or if he's mad at his parents for grounding him at the age of 25. Rosa finally set me straight when she pointed out that I can't be that picky while going everywhere in basketball shorts and sandals.

Mariela's is so good that the local gangs have agreed on designating rotating days they can visit to avoid conflict while waiting for an order. I've seen people take advantage of fights breaking out by running to the front of the line while everyone else scrambles in fear of the possible presence of firearms. This is the only time I've seen a Latino try to act like he was already within the scene of a crime just so he can get in there and order. This place is so bomb that if any of your neighbors saw you come home with a white paper bag turning transparent to reveal Mexican food wrapped in yellow, you could expect dirty looks... for days. If you plan on walking back home with some Mariela's, you inevitably have to buy extra tacos in case you run into a cholo or friend on the way home or get caught sneaking into your apartment building - take the stairs, ditch the elevator.

Cholo: (appears out of nowhere) "Ey whatchu got in that bag ese?"

Me: (startled looking around for possible hiding places) "Damn Fuzzy?!?!? Where the fuck did you just jump out off? Were you in the tree?

Cholo: "Don't ac estupid, whatchu got in the bag?"

Me: "I went to get some Mariela's for my moms man, she's real sick dude. Coughing and hurting all over. I gotta get back quick!"

Cholo: (not buying it and creeping closer and closer to me) "Oh you went to Mariela's and you didn't call me huh? I see how it is. Why you always gotta act like you don't know nobody?"

Me: "Don't even trip foo! You know I got you a taco homie"

Cholo: "Dispensa little homie, dispensa. Why didn't you say something earlier? I was about to fuck you up ey."

Me (mumbling as I walk away): "You're welcome asshole. Who the fuck does this guy think he is "DEBO"? That dude needs to get shot or something!"

after about 10 paces I stop, turn around to face fuzzy while crossing my hands and connecting them at the thumbs to mimic a butterfly flapping it's wing.

I shout: "Hey Fuzzy! Mariposa St. Gang FORRRRREVERRRRRRRRR HOMMMMEEES!"

I turn back around and sprint home at full speed hoping I can get there before he catches up to me.

Mariposa St. is the street I lived on, I used to tell the gangsters that hung out on my block that was the name of their gang too.

Call you order in! This will cut the wait time. If you choose to do this, make sure you make yourself recognizable because some people have called with prank orders. You have to stand out like Thurgood Jenkins in a bodega. I used to always call and pretend to be a Korean. If you don't do this, they will only write your order down and wait for you to arrive and ask for it before they begin putting it together.

Mariela's taco is easily accessible by various forms of transportation; two DASH Routes (one isn't listed , two MTA Routes, 5 - 10 minutes from the 10 and 101 freeways, and downhill in almost every direction allowing you to easily cruise there on a skateboard.

The green sauce is the bomb!!! I used to take home extra to pour over my spinach omelets.

Here is a little back and forth between myself and a youtuber that did an inaccurate review on Mariela's Taco. I have to say that he sent a nice email to end this banter, good thing too because I can go on forever.

kalitoz1 (2 days ago) Show Hide
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Obviously poor taste in tacos. This is the best Mexican food in L.A.!!!! Gangs have to rotate days so they can visit this place. Reference, I grew up eating there. 213 even after 323
rdub520 (2 days ago) Show Hide
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What do you think is good about burnt and fatty pieces of meat? You saw the video--the carne was horrible. How is that poor taste??? That's reality son.
kalitoz1 (28 seconds ago) Show Hide
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They gave you all the stuff that falls between the grills. A white guy doing an unannounced review with a handycam is ok, but poking over the GLASS trying to see what they're doing is unacceptable. When someone within the neighborhood placed an order on the phone, you had to go ask everyone but the Koreans in your building if they wanted to order something too. Next time, get a glass of the best horchata in L.A. and chill out. Don't get on their bad side, they do the graff in the bathroom.

Other people's reviews:

Yelp Review
1. Why don't you take Credit Card?
2. Why am I waiting 20-30 minutes for 2 tacos and 1 burrito?
3. Why didn't I order more food? This shit is GOOD. Love that you add cilantro to your burritos.

Will be back soon, Marielas. :)
Overall, I can see why this place is crowded all the time. Bonus, it’s open till 2am on Friday and Saturday.

This place is SO BOMB!! I usually get the carne asada tacos and burritos and man, I am in HEAVEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It's in a ghetto, little strip mall but it's usually safe. I mean, I'm a 5'4 Korean chick with no muscle, and I've always made it out alright ;)

This place reminds me of the taco places in the Mission district back in S.F. when my mom and I would go every weekend when I was a little girl...

I have settled for King Taco in LB nowadays, or Tacos Los Toritos in Canyon Country when I'm visiting my family... but Marielas... sigh. This place is the one in I hold dear to my heart.

Mariela's carne asada burritos are probably one of my fav. foods.

They marinate the meat really well and they make the burritos pretty f'ing big.

I've been coming here for about 7 years and some times I crave it as if it's crack.

The only thing that could make it any better would be a carne asada burrito with some King Taco's hot sauce!
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