Spotlight

Yucatan Giving OutreachCommunity Members Doing Extraordinary Work in Merida

Since 2016 The Yucatan Giving Outreach A.C. has been providing the community with humanitarian services and goods. The idea was born out of a chance encounter with an elderly people’s home when founder Kim Davin stopped by to drop off some furniture that would have otherwise been tossed away. She was deeply affected by the sight of elderly living in destitute and poverty stricken conditions. As I spoke with her she remembers, “There was a lack of basic human needs, things we need for our own dignity were lacking. It had a profound effect on me.”  From that day she began visiting shelters, including soup kitchens, orphanages and homes for abused girls and women and started asking what she could do to help. Over the three years the Yucatan Giving Outreach has grown tremendously thanks to the altruistic hearts and hard work of the over 250-300 active volunteers, including its founder Kim Davin and Dave Omar Dodge who organizes the Season of Sharing fundraiser events, and those who have generously donated money and supplies. YGO is a foundation that supports other governmental and non-governmental foundations in the hopes that someday they can be self-sustainable entities and provide all services and goods for themselves.

Secrets From The Yucatecan Kitchen: Red Achiote & Bitter Orange Marinade

Today we are going to learn to cook with Yucatan’s famous red achiote paste and oddly bumpy but delicious bitter oranges. These are two ingredients a Yucatecan Kitchen could not survive without. I’ve learned they are not only delicious but two highly nutritious foods. Achiote - Axiote is one of the most overlooked spices when foreigners enter the Yucetan kitchen because it is a deep red paste and no one knows how or when or where to use it. Most avoid axiote all together, so what is it anyway? Axiote is called Annatto or the Lipstick tree and it was quite literally used for lipstick coloring most of its history. The bush has spread throughout the world for its use in beauty products, food coloring and even hair dye. However, it is a noble plant used in Latin American cooking and it is used to season fish, meats and the notable cochinita pibil known throughout the Yucatan.

Secrets of the Yucatecan Kitchen: How To Make Sikil Pak

What do I do with those piles of delicious smelling spices at the market? What is that wonderful brown stuff they set out before a meal at a Yucatecan restaurant? How do I use all these new ingredients I keep seeing at the supermarket? Many have questions about local food and I have answers and help. Over my next few articles here on MID CityBeat, I’m going to teach you how to use axiote--that thick red paste you see everywhere. How to buy and use the wonderful local pumpkins, peppers and coconuts. I’ve even got ideas up my sleeve about how you can use all the dried chilies you had never seen before moving to the Yucatan. My specialty is vegan food and the dishes of the Yucatan are especially adept to that diet as the ancient Mayans too ate little meat and mostly subsisted from the fruits, vegetables, and grains of their MILPAs. The first dish we will learn to tackle is one of the most coveted and surprisingly easy to achieve at home, Sikil Pak. For those who don’t know it by name, it’s the dip that looks like beans but isn’t when you go to a Yucatecan restaurant. Sikil Pak is considered a salsa, but in my humble opinion it is a dip. Sikil means pumpkin in maya and Pak means tomato. This dish starts as a powder made from dried pumpkin seeds, salt and spices then is mixed with charred tomatoes, garlic, onion and if desired spicy pepper.

Architect Genner Loria: Reclaiming the Magnificence of the Historic Centro of Merida​

I sat to have dinner with architect Genner Loria at Oliva Patio Restaurant, one of the establishments he has designed and built. While we were finishing our dessert, I asked him how he began in architecture, and what inspires him. As he was telling me his story, I realized I have several things in common with Genner. The similarity that inspired me to write this article is our mutual love for the derelict, falling-down buildings of the Centro. I think we admire them so much because we can feel their energy as we pass by or walk through them. We can feel the love, heartbreak, joy of births and sorrow of death, and undetermined energy trapped within the walls that have seen so much. We admire their beauty, even in the ones that are so frail it seems that if you lean on them, they might fall. And more than that, we see the potential to transform and regain bygone glory. But here is where Loria and I differ: I cannot make that dream a reality; it simply lives in my imagination. Loria on the other hand, can and does transform dreams to realities. He reclaims these buildings, rebuilding and restoring them in the most magnificent way. He is a true artist of his craft.​

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