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Black Mole from Oaxaca (Mole Negro de Oaxaca)

By Juliann Esquivel


8 large dried chile mulatos, you will have to go to a Mexican market where these are sold.

8 large dried pasilla or ancho chiles. if you live in California, Texas, Miami, New York, or Chicago it should not be too hard to find these dried chile peppers

4 large dried guajillo chiles

6/8 Tbsp. lard or corn oil, for those who have health reasons

1/2 c slivered almonds, toasted lightly

1/2 c dark raisins

1/4 c pumpkin seeds, toasted lightly

1/4 c pecans, in pieces, toasted lightly

1/4 c peanuts with skins if possible, not the shells toasted lightly, can be salted

4 slice challah bread or any egg bread, toasted and torn in pieces

1/4 c sesame seeds, toasted lightly, save a tablespoon to a side.

1/4 tsp dried thyme

1/4 tsp dried marjoram

1/4 tsp dried Mexican oregano if possible if not possible then the other oregano

4 medium avocado leaves. optional since it is hard to get fresh avocado leaves.

1 1/2 small sticks cinnamon or ground cinnamon about 2 level tsps.

1/4 tsp ground star anise or ground seed anise

2 small cloves, just two whole cloves

1 tsp cumin seeds or ground cumin

3 small black peppercorns, whole

2 large plantains ripe sliced, can buy Goya frozen fried plantains

1 large tomato roasted, no need to seed or peel

3 large tomatillos, quartered & roasted

5 clove garlic roasted

1 medium onion roasted

10/12 c rich homemade chicken broth. use homemade, best if you make the day before

8/10 large pieces of cooked chicken or turkey

1 1/2 Tbsp. perhaps a tad bit more sugar

2 large tablets Mexican chocolate there is one called abuelitas chocolate, this is a special chocolate that is mixed with cinnamon, almonds, & vanilla

2 Tbsp. salt or to your taste

1 c flour

2 medium corn tortillas fried crispy golden careful not to scorch


First the day before making your mole you will need to make a rich chicken stock. Cook two chickens cut into pieces, in a deep heavy pot cover pieces with cold water add a medium onion, some garlic cloves a little salt and some garlic powder cover on medium flame and cook for about 1 1/2 hours. Ensure you have at least 12 cups of good rich broth. When chicken is done take out pieces and put into a separate pan let cool & cover and refrigerate for the next day. Do not overcook the chicken you want tender nice pieces, not chicken falling off the bone. When broth cools strain and refrigerate. All of the ingredients for this broth are in addition to what is on the sauce ingredient list above. Next day skim of the fat from the top and put on back burner until ready to use.

Clean the dried chilies with a damp cloth. Open the chiles by making a slit and removing the stem, seeds and membranes. Be sure to get all of the seeds out. They will cause you sauce to be bitter. After cleaning all of the dried chilies put into a sauce pan cover with cold water and put on medium flame let the chilies begin to boil for 5 minutes. Then shut off heat and let steep in this water for 10 more minutes. Make sure you have the extractor or ventilator on over the stove when doing this. Chile fumes can be strong. After the chilies have soaked for 10 minutes remove to a blender and with a little of the soaking water blend down to a puree. (Do not throw the remaining soaking water away Save it you will need it later). Take out chile puree and set aside in a separate bowl.

On a cookie sheet place your onion cut in half cut side down, tomatillos cut side down, the tomato leave whole but turn once or twice while roasting. Four peeled garlic cloves all to roast under the broiler. Do not let veggies char only to roast until somewhat brown, keep checking to make sure your veggies do not burn. Turn tomato just to get some nice browning spots. This should take about 4/5 minutes under the broiler. Some people do on a griddle but it’s faster under the broiler. Remove veggies and puree everything in the blender. everything must be completely pureed. Set aside in a separate dish.

In a cast iron pan if available or a heavy large fry pan heat 1 tablespoon lard or oil and fry raisins until they puff up and brown a bit again I can’t begin to remind do not scorch or burn the raisins. Remove the raisins and set aside. Add a little more lard or oil and fry gently the almonds, pecans, and the peanuts frying for five minutes on a medium to low flame careful not to burn. All this takes times you cannot hurry because burning or scorching any of these nuts will cause your sauce to be bitter. Nuts should be a golden brown. Remove nuts and set aside. Next in the same frying pan add a little more lard or oil and fry your torn bread pieces lightly then put bread in the oven for about ten minutes to toast a bit. After 10 minutes remove bread from oven. Next in that same frying pan cut your ripe plantains in small pieces and fry in oil or lard until golden. Remove the plantains to a separate pan. Last fry the tortilla in a little bit more oil or lard until crispy again being careful not to burn. Remove fried tortilla to bread pan. Heat another heavy fry pan no oil or lard please. Keep heat down on medium low Add your spices to toast sesame seeds, cinnamon sticks anise, cloves, cumin seeds, black peppercorns and pumpkin seeds slowly. Toast until they are a fragrant do not burn or scorch. Put into a spice grinder or coffee grinder and pulse until totally ground to a powder. Note if you do not have whole cumin seeds then add ground cumin powder to your mixture at the end after you have pulsed your spices. Next add your powdered spices to the just ground spices referring to the oregano, thyme and marjoram.

At this time start to heat your chicken broth. When hot reduce to a simmer you don’t want it to boil. Place the ground spices, the pureed veggies, the fried plantains, and a cup of chicken broth and blend into a smooth paste. Place in a bowl and set aside. Next place the bread, tortilla, and a little more broth and blend into a puree. Add some of the pureed chiles and continue to blend everything in little batches until all the bread, tortilla mixture is pureed and mixed with the chile puree Everything should be very well incorporated. Next put the nuts, remaining 2 cloves garlic, raisins and chocolate in the blender add a little of the water (about 1/2 cup) from the soaked chiles and blend to a smooth paste. By this time all of your ingredients should be well blended in a smooth paste or pureed except for the flour and sugar. Mix all of your pureed ingredients together. The bread and chiles, the veggies, the spices the nuts and chocolate mixture. Everything mix really good. Taste for salt seasoning. (I have left out the avocado leaves because this is very hard for some to find. If you are close to a location that has fresh avocado leaves wash four and put aside for one of the final steps.

In a deep heavy pot heat some more lard or oil, add the flour and begin to make a roux. Roux should be sautéed to a golden brown then add about 2 cups of all your pureed mixture. With a large whisk begin to mix roux with the puree mixture. Your mixture will begin to get thick and be hard to stir. Start adding 2 or three cupful of hot chicken broth and whisking constantly until you have a nice consistency then add all of the remaining pureed mixture and about 8/10 cupful of the chicken broth. Keep stirring with the whisk until you have a smooth sauce. Taste to see if it has enough salt. If it is a little bitter add the sugar a little at a time. Each time tasting to see if the bitterness is gone. Your sauce should be savory, and spicy not sweet. If you have the avocado leaves now you add them to the sauce whole not cut with your cooked chicken pieces from which you made your broth. Simmer mole sauce and chicken on low flame for about 45 minutes. If sauce is too thick add more chicken broth. Remove avocado leaves and discard. Serve Mole and chicken with Mexican rice and warm tortillas. Sprinkle a few toasted sesame seeds over the mole when serving. I have the recipe posted for Mexican rice. I will be making this mole this weekend and will post the picture of the finished dish. This is not an easy dish. Mole Negro is a labor intensive and the most arduous of all the mole recipes. It is done in steps and takes patience. The reward is a melt in your mouth sauce and chicken that few have a chance to experience here in the U.S. Note: Do not use any other chocolate except the Mexican chocolate your mole will lose its character & notoriety it is famous for. Mexican chocolate can be found in the Latin food section of your supermarket. Enjoy.



8 – 10 pound bone-in pork shoulder*
2 tablespoons neutral-tasting oil
1 teaspoon chile powder
1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
2 bay leaves
½ teaspoon cumin
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, chopped
Kosher salt
*or 6-8 pound boneless pork shoulder


Cut you pork shoulder in large pieces, very approximately 4-5 inches. Remove excess fat. Season the pork generously on all sides with Kosher salt and refrigerate overnight. (You can skip the overnight part if needed, but I think it helps. At the very least, make sure to salt the pork before the next step).
Preheat your oven to 350°F.
In a large pot (I used my dutch oven), heat the oil over medium-high heat. Once hot, sear pork shoulder on all sides until deep golden brown, approximately 3-4 minutes per side. If your pot is to small to cook all the pork at one time in a single layer, sear in two batches.
Remove browned pork from the pot and use a paper towel to blot away excess grease. Pour in 1 cup of water and use a wooden spoon to scrap up all the browned bits on the bottom of your pot.
Stir in chile powder, ancho chile powder, bay leaves, cumin, garlic, onion, and a big pinch of salt. Return all the pork to your pot and add enough water so that it submerges ⅔ of the pork.
Place uncovered pot in the oven for 3 to 3½ hours, turning the pork a couple times throughout the braising process. Pork is done when almost all of the liquid is evaporated and the meat literally falls apart as you try to pick it up with a fork.
Remove bay leaves and discard. Shred meat with two forks or allow to cool a bit and shred with your fingers. Discard any visible big chunks of fat.
If serving right away: Discard any excess braising liquid left in pot with a large spoon. Return pot to oven, turning shredded pork occasionally, until the pork is as crispy and caramelized as you want it.
If making ahead: Remove pork from pan, let cool completely and refrigerate for up to a few days. Alternatively, you can wrap shredded pork in foil and then seal in a ziploc bag and freeze for several weeks. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and reheat in 350°F oven wrapped in foil placed on a baking sheet. Once pork is heated through, unwrap foil and let pork get all crispy and caramelized if desired.


In Mexico, Capirotada is a traditional dessert similar to a bread pudding that is usually eaten during the Lenten period.

Capirotada has a very long history. Recipes were recorded by the Holy Office of the Spanish Inquisition in the mid-17th century and can still be found in the archives there to this day. It is typically made from ingredients in common use in Spain at the time of the Conquest. Some New World touches were added along the way, and it’s popular to this day throughout the Hispanic world.

The list of variations in the traditional Capirotada recipe is enormous. Every Mexican cook will have an own version.


  • 6 day-old bolillos or French bread, torn in ½-inch pieces
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 8-ounce piloncillo cones
  • 4-inch cinnamon stick
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 cup sweetened coconut, shredded
  • 1/3 cup raw peanuts, peeled
  • 10 dried figs, sliced in rounds
  • 10 dried apricots, quartered
  • 1/3 cup guava paste, sliced in ½-inch pieces
  • 1 cup Mozzarella cheese (or any melting cheese such as Munster or Oaxaca), shredded
  • 4 tablespoons colorful sprinkles or grajeas (nonpareils)


  1. On a large baking sheet, evenly distribute bread pieces. Toast under broiler for 5-7 minutes until lightly browned.
  2. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  3. Butter a 12×12-inch or 9×13-inch baking dish.
  4. In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, combine water, piloncillo cones, cinnamon stick and cloves. Bring to a boil then decrease heat and simmer until piloncillo cones melt liquid turns into a slightly thickened syrup. Remove cinnamon sticks and cloves.
  5. Arrange a third of bread pieces on bottom of buttered baking dish. Sprinkle with one-third of shredded coconut, one-third of peanuts, one-third dried figs, one-third dried apricots, one-third guava paste, one-third cheese and drizzle one-third of the syrup. Repeat until all ingredients have been used. If any syrup is left over, pour evenly over layers.
  6. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes or until golden and cheese has melted. Garnish with sprinkles and serve.

Pork and/ or Beef Tamales

Recipe Source: Maria E. Salazar
Required Time: 2 days

Ingredients (using 6 pounds of meat makes about 10 dozen tamales and will take over a large American freezer, so feel free to cut this recipe in half or more, but don’t decrease onions or garlic)

*3 pounds’ pork roast

*3 pounds’ beef roast

*2 large onions

*4 cloves garlic

*1/3 to ½ cup chili powder or more (depends on heat of chili powder and spice tolerance of tamal eaters)




*8 cups masa harina

*2 cups shortening or lard

*Corn husks (2-3 packages for full recipe)

 Pork and/ or Beef Tamales

  1. Cook meat (pork or beef, or both in separate pots) in a large pot of water (or in a slow- cooker filled with water) with an onion, 2 garlic cloves, 1 teaspoon of chili powder, salt and pepper. Cook for the day, 4 hours minimum. The more broth you can generate from the meat, the better!

  2. After the meat is cooked (so that it falls apart and shreds easily), remove from pot, set aside to cool, and puree the onion and garlic with the broth. Season broth mixture to taste with chili powder and salt.

  3. Shred meat finely with two forks (you can even chop it after shredding), and store covered in refrigerator separately from broth.

  4. Soak corn husks in water overnight.

  5. Rinse and clean corn husks thoroughly. Drain well and pat dry.

  6. Season shredded meat with chili powder, salt, and cumin (optional) to taste. As you season the meat, add a small amount of broth to moisten meat, but it should not be runny.

  7. For every 2 cups of masa harina (meal), add 1/2 cup of shortening or lard, 1tsp. of salt, and enough chili powder to make a pink dough. Add broth mixture a little at a time to masa and mix with your hands to get a smooth, spreadable consistency. If you run out of broth, you can use hot water, but you will wish you had plenty of broth. (If you use about 6 pounds of meat, you will likely use about 8 cups of masa harina in total).

  8. Assemble the tamales: spread masa about 1/8-inch-thick on corn husk with fingers, leaving about ½ inch border along the sides and 2-inch border along the top and bottom of husk. Use about 2 Tbsp. of shredded meat to fill the tamal (like a cigar). Fold sides until they just overlap, fold narrow end under, and place tamal folded side down. Tear thin strips of the corn husks to tie a “little belt” around each tamal to keep it secure. Although this isn’t necessary, it does look the nicest and makes each tamal a little gift to be opened.

  9. To cook, steam fresh tamales for 15 minutes or until masa is no longer sticky.

  10. Store in freezer. Steam frozen tamales for 20 minutes. (This is a real treat a few days or a few weeks later.

Copyright Nicole Stich

The health hazards of sitting

We know sitting too much is bad, and most of us intuitively feel a little guilty after a long TV binge. But what exactly goes wrong in our bodies when we park ourselves for nearly eight hours per day, the average for a U.S. adult? Many things, say four experts, who detailed a chain of problems from head to toe.

Organ damage

Heart disease

Muscles burn less fat and blood flows more sluggishly during a long sit, allowing fatty acids to more easily clog the heart. Prolonged sitting has been linked to high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol, and people with the most sedentary time are more than twice as likely to have cardiovascular disease than those with the least.

Overproductive pancreas

The pancreas produces insulin, a hormone that carries glucose to cells for energy. But cells in idle muscles don’t respond as readily to insulin, so the pancreas produces more and more, which can lead to diabetes and other diseases. A 2011 study found a decline in insulin response after just one day of prolonged sitting.

Colon cancer

Studies have linked sitting to a greater risk for colon, breast and endometrial cancers. The reason is unclear, but one theory is that excess insulin encourages cell growth. Another is that regular movement boosts natural antioxidants that kill cell-damaging — and potentially cancer-causing — free radicals.

Muscle degeneration

Mushy abs

When you stand, move or even sit up straight, abdominal muscles keep you upright. But when you slump in a chair, they go unused. Tight back muscles and wimpy abs form a posture-wrecking alliance that can exaggerate the spine’s natural arch, a condition called hyperlordosis, or swayback.

Tight hips

Flexible hips help keep you balanced, but chronic sitters so rarely extend the hip flexor muscles in front that they become short and tight, limiting range of motion and stride length. Studies have found that decreased hip mobility is a main reason elderly people tend to fall.

Limp glutes

Sitting requires your glutes to do absolutely nothing, and they get used to it. Soft glutes hurt your stability, your ability to push off and your ability to maintain a powerful stride.

Leg disorders

Poor circulation in legs

Sitting for long periods of time slows blood circulation, which causes fluid to pool in the legs. Problems range from swollen ankles and varicose veins to dangerous blood clots called deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

Soft bones

Weight-bearing activities such as walking and running stimulate hip and lower-body bones to grow thicker, denser and stronger. Scientists partially attribute the recent surge in cases of osteoporosis to lack of activity.

Trouble at the top

Foggy brain

Moving muscles pump fresh blood and oxygen through the brain and trigger the release of all sorts of brain- and mood-enhancing chemicals. When we are sedentary for a long time, everything slows, including brain function.

Strained neck

If most of your sitting occurs at a desk at work, craning your neck forward toward a keyboard or tilting your head to cradle a phone while typing can strain the cervical vertebrae and lead to permanent imbalances.

Sore shoulders and back

The neck doesn’t slouch alone. Slumping forward overextends shoulder and back muscles as well, particularly the trapezius, which connects the neck and shoulders

Bad back

Inflexible spine

When we move, soft discs between vertebrae expand and contract like sponges, soaking up fresh blood and nutrients. But when we sit for a long time, discs are squashed unevenly. Collagen hardens around tendons and ligaments.

Disk damage

People who sit more are at greater risk for herniated lumbar disks. A muscle called the psoas travels through the abdominal cavity and, when it tightens, pulls the upper lumbar spine forward. Upper-body weight rests entirely on the ischial tuberosity (sitting bones) instead of being distributed along the arch of the spine.

The experts
Scientists interviewed for this report
James A. Levine, inventor of the treadmill desk and director of Obesity Solutions at Mayo Clinic and Arizona State University.
Charles E. Matthews, National Cancer Institute investigator and author of several studies on sedentary behavior.
Jay Dicharry, director of the REP Biomechanics Lab in Bend, Ore., and author of “Anatomy for Runners.”
Tal Amasay, biomechanist at Barry University’s Department of Sport and Exercise Sciences.
Additional sources: “Amount of time spent in sedentary behaviors and cause-specific mortality in U.S. adults,” by Charles E. Matthews, et al, of the National Cancer Institute; “Sedentary behavior and cardiovascular disease: A review of prospective studies,” by Earl S. Ford and Carl J. Casperson of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Mayo Clinic.

Paul Greenberg: The four fish we’re overeating — and what to eat instead

I stunk at sports. I didn’t like to play them, I didn’t like to watch them. So this is what I did. I went fishing. And for all of my growing up I fished on the shores of Connecticut, and these are the creatures that I saw on a regular basis. But after I grew up and went to college, and I came home in the early 90’s, this is what I found. My team had shrunk. It was like literally having your roster devastated. And as I sort of looked into that, from a very personal point of view as a fisherman, I started to kind of figure out, well, what was the rest of the world thinking about it?

First place I started to look was fish markets. And when I went to fish markets, in spite of where I was — whether I was in North Carolina, or Paris, or London, or wherever — I kept seeing this weirdly repeating trope of four creatures, again and again — on the menus, on ice — shrimp, tuna, salmon and cod. And I thought this was pretty strange, and as I looked at it, I was wondering, did anyone else notice this sort of shrinking of the market?

Well, when I looked into it, I realized that people didn’t look at it as their team. Ordinary people, the way they looked at seafood was like this. It’s not an unusual human characteristic to reduce the natural world down to very few elements. We did it before, 10,000 years ago, when we came out of our caves. If you look at fire pits from 10,000 years ago, you’ll see raccoons, you’ll see, you know, wolves, you’ll see all kinds of different creatures. But if you telescope to the age of — you know, 2,000 years ago, you’ll see these four mammals: pigs, cows, sheep and goats. It’s true of birds, too. You look at the menus in New York City restaurants 150 years ago, 200 years ago, you’ll see snipe, woodcock, grouse, dozens of ducks, dozens of geese. But telescope ahead to the age of modern animal husbandry, and you’ll see four: turkeys, ducks, chicken and geese.

So it makes sense that we’ve headed in this direction. But how have we headed in this direction? Well … first it’s a very, very new problem. This is the way we’ve been fishing the oceans over the last 50 years. World War II was a tremendous incentive to arm ourselves in a war against fish. All of the technology that we perfected during World War II — sonar, lightweight polymers — all these things were redirected towards fish. And so you see this tremendous buildup in fishing capacity, quadrupling in the course of time, from the end of World War II to the present time. And right now that means we’re taking between 80 and 90 million metric tons out of the sea every year. That’s the equivalent of the human weight of China taken out of the sea every year. And it’s no coincidence that I use China as the example because China is now the largest fishing nation in the world.

Well, that’s only half the story. The other half of the story is this incredible boom in fish farming and aquaculture, which is now, only in the last year or two, starting to exceed the amount of wild fish that we produce. So that if you add wild fish and farmed fish together, you get the equivalent of two Chinas created from the ocean each and every year. And again, it’s not a coincidence that I use China as the example, because China, in addition to being the biggest catcher of fish, is also the biggest farmer of fish.

So let’s look though at the four choices we are making right now. The first one — by far the most consumed seafood in America and in much of the West, is shrimp. Shrimp in the wild — as a wild product — is a terrible product. 5, 10, 15 pounds of wild fish are regularly killed to bring one pound of shrimp to the market. They’re also incredibly fuel inefficient to bring to the market. In a recent study that was produced out of Dalhousie University, it was found that dragging for shrimp is one of the most carbon-intensive ways of fishing that you can find.

So you can farm them, and people do farm them, and they farm them a lot in this very area. Problem is … the place where you farm shrimp is in these wild habitats — in mangrove forests. Now look at those lovely roots coming down. Those are the things that hold soil together, protect coasts, create habitats for all sorts of young fish, young shrimp, all sorts of things that are important to this environment. Well, this is what happens to a lot of coastal mangrove forests. We’ve lost millions of acres of coastal mangroves over the last 30 or 40 years. That rate of destruction has slowed, but we’re still in a major mangrove deficit.

The other thing that’s going on here is a phenomenon that the filmmaker Mark Benjamin called “Grinding Nemo.” This phenomenon is very, very relevant to anything that you’ve ever seen on a tropical reef. Because what’s going on right now, we have shrimp draggers dragging for shrimp, catching a huge amount of bycatch, that bycatch in turn gets ground up and turned into shrimp food. And sometimes, many of these vessels — manned by slaves — are catching these so-called “trash fish,” fish that we would love to see on a reef, grinding them up and turning them into shrimp feed — an ecosystem literally eating itself and spitting out shrimp.

The next most consumed seafood in America, and also throughout the West, is tuna. So tuna is this ultimate global fish. These huge management areas have to be observed in order for tuna to be well managed. Our own management area, called a Regional Fisheries Management Organization, is called ICCAT, the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas. The great naturalist Carl Safina once called it, “The International Conspiracy to Catch all the Tunas.” Of course we’ve seen incredible improvement in ICCAT in the last few years, there is total room for improvement, but it remains to be said that tuna is a global fish, and to manage it, we have to manage the globe.

Well, we could also try to grow tuna but tuna is a spectacularly bad animal for aquaculture. Many people don’t know this but tuna are warm-blooded. They can heat their bodies 20 degrees above ambient temperature, they can swim at over 40 miles an hour. So that pretty much eliminates all the advantages of farming a fish, right? A farmed fish is — or a fish is cold-blooded, it doesn’t move too much. That’s a great thing for growing protein. But if you’ve got this crazy, wild creature that swims at 40 miles an hour and heats its blood — not a great candidate for aquaculture.

The next creature — most consumed seafood in America and throughout the West — is salmon. Now salmon got its plundering, too, but it didn’t really necessarily happen through fishing. This is my home state of Connecticut. Connecticut used to be home to a lot of wild salmon. But if you look at this map of Connecticut, every dot on that map is a dam. There are over 3,000 dams in the state of Connecticut. I often say this is why people in Connecticut are so uptight —

If somebody could just unblock Connecticut’s chi, I feel that we could have an infinitely better world. But I made this particular comment at a convention once of national parks officers, and this guy from North Carolina sidled up to me, he says, “You know, you oughtn’t be so hard on your Connecticut, cause we here in North Carolina, we got 35,000 dams.” So it’s a national epidemic, it’s an international epidemic. And there are dams everywhere, and these are precisely the things that stop wild salmon from reaching their spawning grounds.

So as a result, we’ve turned to aquaculture, and salmon is one the most successful, at least from a numbers point of view. When they first started farming salmon, it could take as many as six pounds of wild fish to make a single pound of salmon. The industry has, to its credit, greatly improved. They’ve gotten it below two to one, although it’s a little bit of a cheat because if you look at the way aquaculture feed is produced, they’re measuring pellets — pounds of pellets per pound of salmon. Those pellets are in turn reduced fish. So the actual — what’s called the FIFO, the fish in and the fish out — kind of hard to say. But in any case, credit to the industry, it has lowered the amount of fish per pound of salmon.

Problem is we’ve also gone crazy with the amount of salmon that we’re producing. Aquaculture is the fastest growing food system on the planet. It’s growing at something like seven percent per year. And so even though we’re doing less per fish to bring it to the market, we’re still killing a lot of these little fish.

And it’s not just fish that we’re feeding fish to, we’re also feeding fish to chickens and pigs. So we’ve got chickens and they’re eating fish, but weirdly, we also have fish that are eating chickens. Because the byproducts of chickens — feathers, blood, bone — get ground up and fed to fish. So I often wonder, is there a fish that ate a chicken that ate a fish? It’s sort of a reworking of the chicken and egg thing. Anyway —

All together, though, it results in a terrible mess. What you’re talking about is something between 20 and 30 million metric tons of wild creatures that are taken from the ocean and used and ground up. That’s the equivalent of a third of a China, or of an entire United States of humans that’s taken out of the sea each and every year.

The last of the four is a kind of amorphous thing. It’s what the industry calls “whitefish.” There are many fish that get cycled into this whitefish thing but the way to kind of tell the story, I think, is through that classic piece of American culinary innovation, the Filet-O-Fish sandwich. So the Filet-O-Fish sandwich actually started as halibut. And it started because a local franchise owner found that when he served his McDonald’s on Friday, nobody came. Because it was a Catholic community, they needed fish. So he went to Ray Kroc and he said, “I’m going to bring you a fish sandwich, going to be made out of halibut.” Ray Kroc said, “I don’t think it’s going to work. I want to do a Hula Burger, and there’s going to be a slice of pineapple on a bun. But let’s do this, let’s have a bet. Whosever sandwich sells more, that will be the winning sandwich.” Well, it’s kind of sad for the ocean that the Hula Burger didn’t win. So he made his halibut sandwich. Unfortunately though, the sandwich came in at 30 cents. Ray wanted the sandwich to come in at 25 cents, so he turned to Atlantic cod. We all know what happened to Atlantic cod in New England.

So now the Filet-O-Fish sandwich is made out of Alaska pollock, it’s the largest fin fish fishery in the United States, 2 to 3 billion pounds of fish taken out of the sea every single year. If we go through the pollock, the next choice is probably going to be tilapia. Tilapia is one of those fish nobody ever heard of 20 years ago. It’s actually a very efficient converter of plant protein into animal protein, and it’s been a godsend to the third world. It’s actually a tremendously sustainable solution, it goes from an egg to an adult in nine months. The problem is that when you look about the West, it doesn’t do what the West wants it to do. It really doesn’t have what’s called an oily fish profile. It doesn’t have the EPA and DHA omega-3s that we all think are going to make us live forever.

So what do we do? I mean, first of all, what about this poor fish, the clupeids? The fish that represent a huge part of that 20 to 30 million metric tons. Well, one possibility that a lot of conservationists have raised is could we eat them? Could we eat them directly instead of feeding them to salmon? There are arguments for it. They are tremendously fuel efficient to bring to market, a fraction of the fuel cost of say, shrimp, and at the very top of the carbon efficiency scale. They also are omega-3 rich, a great source for EPA and DHA. So that is a potential. And if we were to go down that route what I would say is, instead of paying a few bucks a pound — or a few bucks a ton, really — and making it into aquafeed, could we halve the catch and double the price for the fishermen and make that our way of treating these particular fish?

Other possibility though, which is much more interesting, is looking at bivalves, particularly mussels. Now, mussels are very high in EPA and DHA, they’re similar to canned tuna. They’re also extremely fuel efficient. To bring a pound of mussels to market is about a thirtieth of the carbon as required to bring beef to market. They require no forage fish, they actually get their omega-3s by filtering the water of microalgae. In fact, that’s where omega-3s come from, they don’t come from fish. Microalgae make the omega-3s, they’re only bioconcentrated in fish.

Mussels and other bivalves do tremendous amounts of water filtration. A single mussel can filter dozens of gallons every single day. And this is incredibly important when we look at the world. Right now, nitrification, overuse of phosphates in our waterways are causing tremendous algal blooms. Over 400 new dead zones have been created in the last 20 years, tremendous sources of marine life death.

We also could look at not a fish at all. We could look at a vegetable. We could look at seaweed, the kelps, all these different varieties of things that can be high in omega-3s, can be high in proteins, tremendously good things. They filter the water just like mussels do. And weirdly enough, it turns out that you can actually feed this to cows. Now, I’m not a big fan of cattle. But if you wanted to keep growing cattle in a time and place where water resources are limited, you’re growing seaweed in the water, you don’t have to water it — major consideration.

And the last fish is a question mark. We have the ability to create aquacultured fish that creates a net gain of marine protein for us. This creature would have to be vegetarian, it would have to be fast growing, it would have to be adaptable to a changing climate and it would have to have that oily fish profile, that EPA, DHA, omega-3 fatty acid profile that we’re looking for.

This exists kind of on paper. I have been reporting on these subjects for 15 years. Every time I do a new story, somebody tells me, “We can do all that. We can do it. We’ve figured it all out. We can produce a fish that’s a net gain of marine protein and has omega-3s.” Great. It doesn’t seem to be getting scaled up. It is time to scale this up. If we do, 30 million metric tons of seafood, a third of the world catch, stays in the water.

So I guess what I’m saying is this is what we’ve been going with. We tend to go with our appetites rather than our minds. But if we went with this, or some configuration of it, we might have a little more of this.

Three Kings Bread Recipe

Rosca de reyes is a Spanish and Latin American king’s cake pastry traditionally eaten to celebrate Epiphany.

Although the name indicates that it should be round, the rosca de reyes generally has an oval shape due to the need to make cakes larger than 30 cm (12 inches) across for larger parties. Recipes vary from country to country. For decoration, figs, quinces, cherries or dried and candied fruits are used.

It is traditionally eaten on January 6, during the celebration of the Día de Reyes (literally “Kings’ Day”), which commemorates the arrival of the three Magi or Wise Men. In most of Hispanic communities this is the day when children traditionally get presents, which are attributed to the Three Wise Men (and not Santa Claus). In Mexico before children go to bed, they leave their shoes outside filled with hay or dried grass for the animals the Wise Men ride, along with a note.

The tradition of placing a trinket (a figurine of the Christ child) in the cake is very old. The baby Jesus hidden in the bread represents the flight of the Holy Family, fleeing from King Herod’s Massacre of the Innocents. Whoever finds the baby Jesus figurine has the responsibility of hosting a dinner and providing tamales and atole on February 2 (Candlemas Day, Día de la Candelaria).

By Mely Martínez
1/2 cup of warm water
1 Envelopes (2 1/4 teaspoons or 7 grams) of dry active yeast
4 cups (20 ounces) all purpose flour plus more for dusting
3/4 cup of sugar, if you want sweeter add 1/4 cup extra.
3 large whole eggs
3 egg yolks mixed with 2 Tablespoons of milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 Tablespoon orange extract
1 1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened (equals 6 oz. or 3/4 cup) Plus more for bowl and plastic wrap.
Freshly grated orange zest from one orange

Ingredients for the topping:
1 egg yolk
3/4 cup of all purpose flour
6 tablespoon margarine
1/2 cup of confectioner sugar
Dry fruit like figs, candied orange or cherries.
1 egg beaten for glazing the bread
1 tablespoon heavy cream or whole milk
White sugar to sprinkle on top of the bread
2 or 3 plastic baby dolls

Ingredients most be warm as indicated in the list.
Make sure your oven is preheated 20 minutes before baking to help the dough rise.
You can insert plastic doll from the bottom before baking. (I prefer after baking)

1. Pour warm water into a bowl, and sprinkle with yeast. Stir with a fork until yeast has dissolved, then let stand until foamy, 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup of the flour, and cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let stand in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 25 minutes.
2. Mean while mix Flour, eggs, egg yolks, sugar, orange extract, orange zest, salt and butter in a large bowl. Mix until crumbly. You can do these steps with a mixer or by hand.

3. Add yeast mixture to the bowl and mix. It will be very sticky. Place into a lightly floured surface and start kneading until you have a smooth dough. It will take about 15-20 minutes to get this results. 7 minutes with your mixer. Do not add too much flour to your working area, the texture should be very soft, sort of wet but manageable. If you add more flour than needed your bread will be dry.

4. Once your dough is smooth and soft, place in a buttered bowl, and cover with buttered plastic wrap. It must be wet and elastic. Let dough stand in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 and 1/2 hours. Make sure your kitchen is warm to help your dough to rise. If the dough doesn’t double in volume after this time let it rest longer. The fermentation process develops flavor, so slower and longer is always best.

5. While the dough is resting, mix the following ingredients for the decoration: margarine with the confectioners sugar until it creamy. Then add in the flour and egg yolk. Until you have a smooth paste.

6. After the first resting period. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead a few times, then shape into a round cushion and making a hole in the middle shape into a large ring. Transfer to a greased rimmed baking sheet, and loosely cover with buttered plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place for 45 minutes or more until almost double in volume. Gather all your decorations and the egg wash. For the egg wash whisk remaining egg with cream.
Preheat oven at least 20 minutes before baking at 375 degrees, with rack in lower third.

Two different ways to shape the bread into a ring form:
Method I

Method II

7. Brush the dough with the egg wash. Form strips with the confectioners sugar paste and decorate the dough. Place some of the dried fruit pressing them gently into the dough. Sprinkle with sugar and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for 10 more minutes until bread is a nice golden brown color. Depending of your oven it will require more time.

8. Transfer the bread to a wire rack to cool. After the bread has cooled insert the plastic baby dolls from the bottom of the bread. Do not forget to let your guests know that there is a baby toy inside the bread. Rosca de Reyes can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Top-Selling GM Car In Mexico Has Huge Safety Flaws

One of General Motors Co.’s most popular cars in Mexico is putting the lives of its drivers at a huge risk.

The Chevrolet Aveo failed tests on adult occupant protection, according to a new rating issued Monday by the Latin America branch of the New Car Assessment Program, an independent group that evaluates the safety of consumer vehicles. The sedan, which was the best-selling car in Mexico from September 2013 until August of this year, is marketed without airbags in the country, placing adult occupants at high risk for life-threatening injuries if accidents occur.

Crash tests conducted by Latin NCAP found the car’s body shell to be unstable, with particularly poor protection for the driver’s chest and head. The Aveo received zero out of five possible stars for adult occupant protection.

Cars sold in Latin American markets are not held to the same safety standards as those sold in the United States and Europe. Many vehicles in Mexico are not required to have basic features like antilock braking systems or airbags, and their absence has been cited as a big factor in the rise of car-related deaths in the country.

The results of the Aveo’s recent safety test were so disturbing that Maria Fernanda Rodriguez, president of the Latin division of NCAP, wrote to GM CEO Mary Barra about the dearth of safety features in the automaker’s cars sold in Latin American markets.

“It is hard to understand how GM can still sell a non-airbag version of the Aveo in Mexico with a high fatality risk,” Rodriguez wrote.

The NCAP tested a European Aveo model nine years ago with slightly better results. The European version, with four airbags, received a two-star rating, which allowed it to to squeeze past the European Union’s regulatory tests. But those standards were discarded for models sold in Mexico.

The disparity underscores long-standing criticism that automakers lower safety standards for Latin American models in order to offset decreasing profits. A 2013 report by the NCAP found that cars by GM, Suzuki and Renault-Nissan tested significantly lower than their equivalent models in Europe and America, suggesting that the companies placed a higher value on the safety of customers there than those in developing countries.

“Government regulations in Latin America are softer than they are in the U.S. and Europe, and that allows manufacturers to sell cars with lower safety standards,” said Alejandro Furas, secretary general of Latin NCAP. “They also want to make as much profit as possible by removing certain features. We’ve seen less reinforcements in the structure, so less metal material, and no airbags.”

The NCAP is now calling for dramatic changes from GM, which just last year announced a sweeping effort to encourage employees to speak up if they notice potential safety issues in cars.

“All the measures we’re talking about have been developed in the last 20 years,” Furas said of GM’s safety features. “There’s no reason not to put them in the cars we have in Latin America.”

Earlier this year, Nissan backed away from its defense of its Datsun Go car as complying with Indian safety regulations. After receiving backlash for the model’s weak body shell and airbags, Nissan pledged to improve safety features. It’s an indication that car companies are gradually — though still somewhat reluctantly — starting to take concrete actions toward reducing the sale of potentially harmful vehicles in emerging markets.

GM did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Winter celebrations in Mexico

In Mexico, Christmas is celebrated from the December 12th to January 6th.

From December 16th to Christmas Eve, children often perform the ‘Posada’ processions or Posadas. Posada is Spanish for Inn or Lodging. There are nine Posadas. These celebrate the part of the Christmas story where Joseph and Mary looked for somewhere to stay. For the Posadas, the outside of houses are decorated with evergreens, moss and paper lanterns.

In each Posada, children are given candles and a board, with painted clay figures of Mary riding on a donkey and Joseph, to process round the streets with. They call at the houses of friends and neighbors and sing a song at each home. The song they sing is about Joseph and Mary asking for a room in the house. But the children are told that there is no room in the house and that they must go away. Eventually they are told there is room and are welcomed in! When the children go into the house they say prayers of thanks and then they have a party with food, games and fireworks.

Each night a different house holds the Posada party. At the final Posada, on Christmas Eve, a manger and figures of shepherds are put on to the board. When the Posada house has been found, a baby Jesus is put into the manger and then families go to a midnight Church service. After the Church service there are more fireworks to celebrate the start of Christmas.

One game that is often played at Posada parties is piñata. A piñata is a decorated clay or papier-mâché jar filled with sweets and hung from the ceiling or tree branch. The piñata is often decorated something like a ball with seven peaks around it. The peaks or spikes represent the ‘seven deadly sins’. Piñata’s can also be in other forms. Children are blind-folded and take it in turns to hit the piñata with a stick until it splits open and the sweets pour out. Then the children rush to pick up as many sweets as they can!

As well as the posada’s, another type of Christmas play known as Pastorelas (The Shepherds). These tell the story of the shepherds going to find the baby Jesus and are often very funny. The devil tries to stop them by tempting them along the way. But the shepherds always get there in the end, often with the help of the Archangel Michael, who comes and beats the devil!

Nativity scenes, known as the ‘nacimiento’, are very popular in Mexico. The baby Jesus is normally added to the scene during the evening of Christmas Eve. The Three Kings are added at Epiphany.

Christmas Trees are becoming more popular in Mexico, but the main/most important decoration is still the nacimiento.

Christmas Eve is known as ‘Noche Buena’ and is a family day. People often take part in the final Posada and then in the evening have the main Christmas meal. At midnight, many people go to a Midnight Mass service, known as the ‘Misa de Gallo’ (Mass of the Rooster).

Poinsettia flowers are known as ‘nochebuena’ (Christmas Eve) flowers in Mexico.

People in Mexico also celebrate ‘los santos inocentes’ or ‘Day of the Innocent Saints’ on December 28th ad it’s very like April Fools Day in the UK and USA. 28th December is when people remember the babies that were killed on the orders of King Herod when he was trying to kill the baby Jesus.
In some states in Mexico children expect Santa Claus to come on December 24th. In the south of Mexico children expect presents on January 6th at Epiphany, which is known as ‘el Dia de los Reyes’.

It’s traditional to eat a special cake called ‘Rosca de Reyes’ (Three Kings Cake) on Epiphany. A figure of Baby Jesus is hidden inside the cake. Whoever has the baby Jesus in their piece of cake is the ‘Godparent’ of Jesus for that year.

Another important day, is Candelaria (also known as Candlemas) on the 2nd February and it marks the end of the Mexican Christmas celebrations. (

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