Tag Archives: Mexico

Serving up some Mexican spirit: Eric Partaker, co-founder of Chilango

7 Mar

Eric Partaker, 35, seems like one of those people that just takes everything in their stride. Half-American, half-Norwegian, it was during his childhood in Chicago that Partaker became hooked on Mexican cuisine. When he came to work in London in 2004 and met a like-minded colleague in the form of Dan Houghton it was almost like fate. Three years later the duo had travelled round Mexico and the USA, and carried out enough research to leave their desk jobs and set up Mucho Más.

Eric Partaker (L) with his Chilango co-founder, Dan Houghton (R)

“I suppose it might seem daring but that depends on how you perceive the risk,” reasons Partaker. “Even if it screwed up I knew we’d have something else to do. I just thought gees; it wouldn’t be the end of the world.” Continue reading


Mexican wrestling at the London School of Lucha Libre

17 Feb
 Intrepid freelance journalist, Ben Edwards, visits the East End wrestling school to learn how to become a luchador.
I’m keeled over at my computer googling ‘neck injuries’, convinced I’m suffering from whiplash. The rest of my body feels like it’s been caught in the middle of a Wild West gunfight. The website warned that Mexican wrestling would hurt, but I never imagined it would be as painful as this.

Lucha Britannia's Shiro Yoshida by Patrick Siboni

Lucha Libre – the art of Mexican wrestling – is technically the same as American wrestling. It’s theatre, not blood sport. Yet what makes Lucha Libre distinctive is the masks. Because no matter how colourful they are, there’s no escaping the fact they look like they’ve been pinched from a Soho sex shop.

This, I must stress, is not what lured me to spend an evening learning how to be a luchador at the London School of Lucha Libre, but it’s all I can think about as my instructor Garry Vanderhorne (Shiro Yoshida in Lucha-lingo – a sobriquet which is clearly more Japanese than Mexican) barks orders at me in his little green gimp mask. Continue reading

Learning to love the burrito at Chilango

10 Feb

Chilango on Islington's Upper Street

There’s something I have to admit. I’m a burrito virgin. Or at least I was, before I stepped past the brightly coloured, glassy exterior of Chilango’s Angel branch for my first taste. It’s something about the bulking ooziness of the burrito which has always made me opt for its quesadilla counterpart instead. But no more, dear burrito loving friends. I have now been officially initiated into the Chilango club.

While placing my order, faced with a rather intimidating list of options (how much can you fit in a burrito?), I had an awful thought that this might end up like a visit to Subway. Do you want this sauce? Um, yeah ok. What bread do you want? Um, any. But luckily, it was nothing like it. Here’s some guidance for those who don’t yet know the ropes:

First: choose your carbs/ pulses. There’s rice, black beans or pinto beans. No refried beans at this establishment, James May will be glad to know.

Second: choose your filling. Chicken, beef or veg?

Third: any peppers, cheese, salsa etc?

Fourth: which sauce would you like; mild, medium or hot? And this is the tricky bit. Not shy of a bit of spice I went for the medium and my nose was running ten minutes in, so be warned.

Fifth: if you want guacamole, that’s an extra pound. That may seem steep, but after briefly interrogating the lively deputy manager, Alan, I was reassured that if you want the best avocado, imported from Mexico don’t-you-know, then the extra pound is well worth it. Continue reading

Top Gear crosses the line with racist Mexican comments

2 Feb

Clarkson immitates the Mexican ambassador who he expects will be sleeping and miss the comments

Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond, the sometimes bumbling middle-aged presenters that make up the Top Gear trio, are hardly known for the most clean of humour. But their comments characterising Mexicans as  ‘lazy’ on Top Gear last Sunday, 30th January, have proved a step too far. While discussing a Mexican sports car, the Mastretta, Hammond took the opportunity to (rather ineloquently) criticise the Mexican people as a whole: “Mexican cars are just going to be a lazy, feckless, flatulent oaf with a moustache leaning against a fence asleep looking at a cactus with a blanket with a hole in the middle on as a coat”. May joined in by describing Mexican food as ‘refried sick’ and Clarkson, positively gleeful at his colleagues’ outbursts, said he was confident the BBC would not receive any complaints because the Mexican ambassador would be asleep. Continue reading

Gabriel Orozco on show at the Tate Modern

8 Jan

Later this month Tate Modern will open its doors for a retrospective of Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco, the largest presentation of his work in the UK to date. Although Orozco is globally acknowledged as a gifted sculptor, this exhibition of over 80 works will also showcase the artist’s photography, drawing and painting.

A modified Citroen DS in La DS 1993

Orozco is known for his experimentation with both man made and natural objects. His alteration of the classic Citroen DS car to create La DS 1993, which features in the exhibition, is an early example of Orozco’s love of manipulating physical objects to produce something new. He sliced the car into thirds and removed the centre to exaggerate its streamlined design. But the most famous and striking of Orozco’s works is Black Kites 1997, a human skull on which Orozco drew a checkerboard pattern to create an unnerving memento mori, bound to turn heads at the Tate Modern.

Black Kites 1997

The exhibition’s curator, Jessica Morgan, has been following Orozco’s art since the two lived in New York in the early 1990s. She said: “Gabriel Orozco is an artist we have a long relationship with. Orozco’s work is playful as well as thought provoking and we hope the visitors will be as captivated by his limitless imagination as we have been over his two decades of work.” Continue reading

Police are no match for Mexico’s violent drug cartels

29 Dec

The latest progression in Mexico’s drug wars has seen the small border town of Guadalupe stripped of a police force. The town has been left completely undefended and unpoliced after its last remaining officer, 28-year-old Erika Gandara was kidnapped on 23rd December. The Mexican government has sent soldiers to patrol Guadalupe and to investigate the kidnapping of Ms Gandara who had patrolled the town of 9,000 inhabitants on her own since June.

Mexican army arrives in Guadalupe

It is revealing of the government’s strategy against the cartels; for four years the army has been positioned in the chief problem area, Ciudad Juárez, meanwhile a lack of resources means that neighbouring towns with similar drug problems albeit on a smaller scale, are overlooked. Murders and abductions are so frequent and the pay so poor that policing has become an unattractive profession in Chihuahua, this region of Mexico. Since President Felipe Calderón came to power in 2006 with promises of a crackdown on the cartels 30,000 people have died in drug-related violence. Continue reading

Celebrate La Noche Latina in North London

16 Dec

For those who are a bit bored of the same old Christmas songs, the same decorations and predictable festive treats, the London-based charity Latin American House are throwing a Christmas event which is more about tequila than tinsel.

Children enjoy sweets from a pinata during a posada

Tonight La Noche Latina will celebrate Christmas the Mexican way with everything from piñatas to posadas.

For those who are not yet initiated in Mexican culture:

Piñatas are those brightly coloured papier-mâché objects with sweets and treats inside that are a must at every Mexican child’s birthday party. They are usually suspended in the air and only those who whack them hard enough are rewarded with the sugary contents.

Posadas are processions that recreate Mary and Joseph’s search for a place to stay in Bethlehem. In Mexico they are held on each of the nine nights leading up to Christmas, from December 16th to 24th. Sometimes the procession is candlelit with people carrying religious images and individuals are selected to play the parts of Mary and Joseph.

Don’t turn down a glass of ponche, a traditional Mexican punch which promises to warm you up on the most chilly of nights combining shots of brandy, rum and tequila.

The event will be hosted by Latin American House with Mestizo, a local restaurant and tequila bar and Flavours of Mexico, a non-profit company aiming to develop the interest in Mexican food in the UK. Continue reading