"The limits of

my language

mean the limits

of my world"

- Ludwig Wittgenstein

GLOSSARY

Expand Your Knowledge 

A Work in Progress!

Alebrije

Alebrijes originated in Ciudad de Mexico following a severe illness that befell Pedro Linares in the 1930's.  After imaginative nightmares, he awoke screaming "Alebrijes!  Alebrijes!  Alebrijes!"  He began creating paper mache animals with mystical features.  Later, Arrazola native Manuel Jiminez began creating alebrijes from copal wood.  Today, the villages of San Martin Tilcajete and La Union Tejalapan have also become famous for alebrijes.  Alebrijes have become famous among fans of Pixar's Coco, due to the popularity of characters Pepita and Dante.  Mexico City hosts an annual Alebrije Parade in October

 

Carnitas

Carnitas are a favourite of anyone who isn't too discriminating to indulge in the lavish richness of pork!  A specialty of Michoacan state, carnitas means "little meats" - consisting of pulled-pork that has been simmered and braised in lard until tender.

In the Lake Patzcuaro region of Michoacan, Quiroga's plaza food carts are especially popular for those coveting this delectable dish.  In Tacambaro, Carnitas Rey Tacamba "Gonzalez" restaurant is a local favourite.  Carnitas are served with fresh tortillas, salsas and pickled veggies.

 

Cazo

A cazo is a copper cooking pot specific to Santa Clara del Cobre, Michoacan Mexico.  Hand-pounded and forged in fire, these pots are used for making carnitas, chicharonnes, cajetes and other traditional foods.  They vary in size, with some pieces being several feet in diameter and depth.  Cazo's have round handles, one on the left, the other on the right.  They have a similar shape and depth of a Chinese Wok, but a flat bottom.  Cazo's play a role in the history of Santa Clara del Cobre's development as Mexico's famous copper town, as the occupants were given exclusive rights to craft these cooking vessels when Vasco de Quiroga first built a large smelter there.

 

Chicharrones

Chicharrone means pork rind - and in Mexico, they are a very popular treat.  Originally from Spain, Chicharrones are made from pig skins that are fried in a scorching hot lard.  When the skin "pops," these popular treats are ready for lathering with guacamole and different salsas.

 

Over cooking chicharrone's results in a rubbery texture, while the delicate chef knows exactly when to remove them from the heat so they are still light and crunchy.  Chicharrone's can be made with pig skins that have been stripped of fat, but most traditional cooks prefer the fact in tact.

 

Cofradia

Cofradia is the Spanish word for confraternity, which are associations of largely Christian lay men.  The purpose of the confraternity is charity and promoting a pious lifestyle.  Rooted in medieval history of ancient Constantinople and Alexandria, confraternities became more prominent in the 1500's, taking on charity work such as providing dowries for orphans, assisting with burials during epidemics, and even escorting the condemned during inquisition.  Today, the mysterious "Procession of Silence" that takes place during Semana Santa celebrations include members of the cofradia, walking barefoot and hooded to show humbleness to God, while also remaining incognito.  Their good deeds are not for personal publicity or show.  There is no correlation between the Cofradia and the Ku Klux Klan. 

Concurso

The word concurso means "examination" - and in Mexico, this term is often used to refer to art & food markets that are based on an audition and competition.  For example, the famous art market of Uruapan during Domingo de Ramos is called a Tianguis but the smaller market in nearby Patzcuaro is referred to as a concurso because the vendors must meet a criteria for quality.  This does not mean the Tianguis has bad quality, but that it is open for more vendors.  The concurso of Patzcuaro is held in a much smaller space than the Tianguis of Uruapan, with one hosting hundreds of vendors and the other showcasing close to two thousand.  Please let us know if you are interested in these markets! 

Dia de Muertos

Dia de Muertos, or "day of the dead," is a cultural observation based on ancient indigenous concepts for ancestor worship.  During this mysterious celebration of life, food offerings or ofrendas, are left for those who are deceased, but returning to visit.  There are many flowers associated with Dia de Muertos, with the most important being the marigold.  Said to attract the dead due to a strong scent, marigolds are plastered onto the frames of cemetery doorways and altars to symbolize the gateway between the living and the dead.  Autumn is regarded by many cultures as a time of year when the veil between the living and the dead is thinnest - allowing the spirits a chance to visit the living.

Domingo de Ramos

Domingo de Ramos, or Palm Sunday, is a Christian observation and moveable feast that falls on the Sunday preceding Good Friday.  The feast commemorates Jesus' celebrated entry into the holy city of Jerusalem.  Palm leaves were thrown down in front of him, which is why there is always an abundance of woven palm fronds for sale during Domingo de Ramos celebrations.  The largest art market of Mexico opens on the Saturday before Domingo de Ramos in Uruapan, Michoacan.  Join us to observe the parade and explore this incredible handicraft market.

Our Lady of Guadalupe

According to Catholic records, the Virgin Mary appeared before a Mexican peasant named Juan Diego at Tepeyac Hill, requesting a Church be built in her name there.  Associated with a Marian apparition, she is also known as the Virgin of Guadalupe and La Morenita.  Her venerated image is enshrined within the Minor Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City.

 

On December 12 of each year, Our Lady Guadalupe is celebrated through pious observation, which involves a pilgrimage on ones knees to various sanctuaries across the country - with the most important being the original Basilica of Our Lady Guadalupe at Tepeyac Hill in Mexico City.  Hundreds of thousands make this pilgrimage every year.  

Semana Santa

Semana Santa is Spanish for Saint Week.   Most native English speakers know this as Easter.  In Mexico, Semana Santa starts with celebrations during Domingo de Ramos, and continue for the duration of the week.  Elaborate altars are set-up in village and city plazas, and many parades and processions take place.    

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