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Sandoval County Master Gardener Plant Clinic

The Sandoval County Master Gardeners will hold a plant clinic to answer any gardening question on May 5 at Lowe’s garden center on Northern Boulevard at Loma Colorado in Rio Rancho. The clinic will be held from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and will be free to the public. If you want plants or insects identified, bring them with you. Bring questions and/or sick and ailing plants for diagnosis from the experts. For information contact Sandoval County Extension at 867-2582.


Buzz grows as ABQ Beer Week brews up

Marne Gaston

Catapulting off the success of the first ABQ Beer Week in 2011, Albuquerque is preparing for its second annual ABQ Beer Week from May 17 to 27. This eleven-day series of events was conceived by the creators of www.abqbeergeek.com and Feel Good Festivals with the purpose of joining the community in celebration of great beers, local music, and amazing venues.

Albuquerque Beer Week has over forty events. It will kick off with an official pairing dinner at Chama River Brewing Company. New events this year include: Marble Beer 101. This event is specifically tailored for those looking to increase their beer knowledge and will highlight the understanding and tasting of ten classic beers styles. Class entry fee is $10. RSVP through ABQbeerweek.com or at Marble Brewery.

Also new this year is Beer Trivia at Imbibe Cigar Bar. Albuquerque beer experts can show off their knowledge on Friday, May 25. Team registration begins at 6:00 p.m.

Additionally, there are a slew of free events taking place throughout the week, including five consecutive special beer releases at Two Fools Tavern. Russell Reid, General Manager of Two Fools Tavern agreed to participate again this year after the great response from hosting events in 2011. “Our customers and our staff enjoyed it… everyone had a great time,” said Reid.

The U.S. craft brewing industry has been growing steadily and cities across the country have been organizing beer celebrations to promote the industry. These beer weeks include a great number of beer tastings, brewers’ dinners and other events celebrating craft beer. Breweries, retailers, bars, restaurants, and beer writers participate in beer weeks by helping bring greater awareness to a region’s craft beers. Cities such as Seattle, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Chicago all boast successful beer weeks.

Albuquerque Beer Week’s objective is to bring a greater awareness of craft beer in the Albuquerque area. They aim to accomplish this by providing a website that beer drinkers can peruse and locate beer related events taking place during the week, getting more people excited and involved with the craft beer scene. Abqbeerweek.com will also provide a forum for businesses to promote their beer week efforts. Albuquerque Beer Week culminates with the ABQ Blues & Brews Festival on May 27 at Sandia Resort and Casino with great blues and unlimited samples of local and regional brews. Tickets for general admission tasting are $25 in advance or $30 at the door and $35 for VIP tickets or $40 at door. However, tickets are only available while supplies last. Please note that tickets were sold out for ABQ Blues & Brews in 2011, and there were no tickets available at the gate.

Contact Marne Gaston at :  marne@feelgoodfestivals.com or visit: www.abqbeerweek.com for more information.


Gustavo Arellano

Gustavo Arellano—”The Mexican”

Flash in the pan—

Asking The Mexican

—Ari LeVaux

Gustavo Arellano writes “Ask a Mexican,” a syndicated weekly Q&A about all things, and anything, Mexican. Two summers ago, I rendezvoused with The Mexican himself in Hatch, New Mexico, where we broke tortillas at the Pepper Pot. I was in town to buy green chile for the freezer. He was researching his third book, which was to be called Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America.

Taco USA has finally been published. It’s full of history researched, rescued and retold, and flavored with fun and important stories from the present, as it chronicles the impact of Mexican food on American culture. The cuisine has seeped into surprising places, like canned chicken tamale rations for American soldiers sent to the Philippines during World War II, or the invention of Doritos at Disneyland, or the breakfast burritos that were rolled at the International Space Station, by popular demand from the crew, by a Mexican-American astronaut named Danny Olivas.

In a recent phone interview for the Weekly Alibi in Albuquerque, Arellano and I spoke about Mexican food in America today, and where it might be going. In a nutshell, I’d say if he were trading shares of Mexican American, he’d be buying a modest stake in Denver-Mex (or Den-Mex cuisine), holding onto his California-Mex (Cal-Mex) interest, and selling his Tex-Mex for whatever he could get for it. And he’d be looking to make significant purchases in regional Mexican cuisines from south of the border states like Nuevo León, Coahuila, and Chihuahua that have supplied much of what Americans know of as Mexican.

Den-Mex, he says, is a gem that’s virtually unknown off the I-25 corridor. He’s particularly infatuated with the Denver burrito, aka the Mexican Hamburger, which, he told me on the phone, is “essentially a smothered burrito, usually with beans and chicharrónes, but with a hamburger patty inside. Right smack dab in the middle, it’s all scrunched up in the middle of the burrito. And it’s smothered in Denver-style chile ... It’s an orange chile. And not chili con carne. This would be more like a chile from New Mexico... It is a bizarre chile... unlike anything you’ve ever seen. And it’s also spicy as hell.”

“Den-Mex is the cousin of New Mexico-style food, because there is that very strong connection between the people who settled southern Colorado—all those Hispanos, they all came from New Mexico. They know the cult of the [chile-] smothered burrito. They know the cult of just chile, of good fulsome chiles and being able to eat them.”

Arellano’s forecast for classic Tex-Mex is not so upbeat. Restaurants that serve those hot, oblong, cheese-drenched combo plates that epitomize Tex-Mex food, with their dollop of sour cream and puddle of refried beans, are no longer opening in significant numbers. While chili con carne has worked its way into heartland recipe books, it’s no longer on the march. In recent years, the rise of Cal-Mex sped the decline of Tex-Mex as well, Arellano writes in Taco USA. “The burrito only reached Texas in the second part of the twentieth century.”

Arellano doesn’t quite pronounce Tex-Mex dead, but in his book he quotes what he calls an “inglorious obituary” to Tex-Mex food that was printed in the Texas Monthly. “‘We will always love our yellow cheese. But as dishes from Mexico’s heartland apply for permanent residency in Texas at an ever-increasing rate, we’re on the threshold of a new culinary era: the time of Mex-Tex.’”

I personally would take albondigas, chiles en Nogada, and natillas any day over most Tex-Mex I’ve known, and in his book Arellano describes it as as, “platters baked in an orange goop resembling a dairy product.” But on the phone his assessment of the dying guard was more glorified. “I’m a fan of Tex-Mex. A lot of people dismiss it as trash, but it’s not. Tex-Mex has its own charm. Look at what food writer Robb Walsh is doing in Houston with his restaurant El Real Tex-Mex [Café]. He basically set that up because he himself—an apostle of Tex-Mex, a friend, and a mentor of mine—felt that Tex-Mex food was slowly disappearing.”

Food may be the focus of Taco USA, but it’s only one of the ways that Mexico has influenced America. And Arellano has his sights on all of them. Perhaps that’s why, as he told me, the most disturbing stereotype about Mexicans to him is the idea that they don’t assimilate into American culture and contribute to society.

“It’s the Americans who refuse to believe that we can do that,” he told me. “I would use my family’s example. My parents came to this country forty years ago. I’m their oldest. The first language I spoke was Spanish. The only language I spoke when I entered kindergarten was Spanish. Here I am speaking to you in English.”

Arellano dedicates Taco USA “to all the Mexican workers-busboys and waitresses, line cooks and sous chefs, janitors and crop pickers, and so many more-who toil anonymously in our food industry, making American cuisine even more Mexican than we can ever realize.” America, he implies, is more Mexican than we realize. Assimilation is happening at every level of society. It’s history, and America is eating it up. As Taco USA notes, salsa sales have overtaken ketchup as America’s leading condiment.

While main street America is getting hip to chips and salsa, elsewhere the creative forces of assimilation are experimenting, with interesting results. As Arellano told me over red and green bowls of chile, in Hatch, they’re putting French fries in burritos in San Diego, green chile on the burgers in New Mexico—and of course putting their burgers inside their burritos in Denver. And they’re selling panocha, cheap, in Chimayo during Lent, something that even an open-minded California Mexican like himself had trouble comprehending at first.

“Panocha is a New Mexican pudding made with brown sugar and [sprouted] wheat, and sold during Lent. You gotta try it, man. It’s also a different name for vagina. So imagine a Mexican like myself from southern California coming here and seeing all over the place during Lent ‘Panocha one dollar, panocha one dollar…’ I’m like, what? Then I realize it’s pudding. Good pudding, man. Oh my God is it good.”

Ari LeVaux lives in Placitas, where he writes Flash in the Pan, a syndicated weekly food column that has appeared in more than 50 newspapers in 22 states. Follow him on Twitter at @arilevaux.


Corrales “Mudding Day”

—Debbie Clemente

On May 5, at the Old San Ysidro Church—966 Old Church Road, across from Casa San Ysidro— Friends and Neighbors of Corrales will get together to mix and apply adobe mud to the walls of the Old Church and take care of maintenance details. This year’s mudding will take place on the Old Church and the front wall of the Church.

Volunteers have a wonderful time working together and sharing the experience of caring for these historic buildings. Families are encouraged to come for there are fun muddy jobs for all ages. In addition to mudding, pruning, weeding, and cleaning of the landscape will be done. There will be a special emphasis on cleaning and organizing items in the Historical Society’s collection and the Sacristy. Lunch will be provided by the Historical Society Docents.

The Old Church is still plastered with adobe mud, as it was when it was first constructed in 1869. In spite of our relatively dry climate, the mud walls need to be re-plastered every year or so. For information on volunteer opportunities on “Mudders’ Day,” email Skip Erickson at skipdonna@msn.com or call 898-8749.

The event is sponsored by the Corrales Historical Society:www.corraleshistory.org.


Sandoval Regional Medical Center to open in July

—Dr. David Gonzales, UNM Sandoval Regional Medical Center

You may have seen my face on billboards and in advertisements around town the past several months and it’s because I have been the face of the new UNM Sandoval Regional Medical Center (SRMC), set to open July 7 and 8 at Rio Rancho’s City Center.

I was honored to lend my face to the promotion of SRMC. As a minority physician, I felt it was important to relay the message that SRMC’s diverse family of staff, nurses and doctors will be taking care of our diverse patient population in Sandoval County.

Our mission at SRMC is to improve the overall health of our community by providing the highest quality health care services to meet the needs of our diverse population all while promoting medical education. Our goal at SRMC is to exceed the expectations of our patients by practicing our values: integrity, service, excellence, safety/quality and teamwork.

Access to care has historically been a problem for the residents of Sandoval County. We look forward to providing one of the most technologically-advanced hospitals just minutes away from Bernalillo, Placitas, Rio Rancho and the neighboring pueblos.

Join us for the Grand Opening Weekend festivities which include a pancake breakfast and ribbon cutting on July 7th as well as free tours of the entire facility and an “Expert Care Health Fair” on July 7 and 8. Visit UNMSRMC.org for further information.
 
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