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Today we sing the praises of the Mexican tortilla.

O tlaxcalli, ancient flatbread, little round cake, pride of the Aztecs! Delicioso!

“Woman Grinding Maize” by Diego Rivera (1924)

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ODE TO TORTILLAS
by Fernando Esteban Flores

O
what delicacies
hide between the folds
of my tortillas
soft
& warm
ready to be deposited
in a place where hunger knows no boundaries

O
how this flat, round
speckled world
invites me to discover
its buttery terrain
of uncharted appetites

O
edible plate
uncurled to my intestinal delights
will you be
my gordita tonight
decked out in your
green & red petticoats

O(r)
might you tease me
with a red strapless
enchilada wrap?

in a country of brown hands
in fellowship with tlaili, ehecatl, y atl
(earth, wind & water)

O
Tlaxcalli
i repeat the cosmic cycle
i break you
& i receive the wafer of survival
on my tongue:

Bless the golden maíz that brought you forth
Bless the bronze hands that kneaded you
Bless the stone pallets that rolled out
the perfect faces of my people

~ from Written with a Spoon: A Poet’s Cookbook, edited by Nancy Fay & Judith Rafaela (Sherman Asher Publishing, 1996)

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How I love this poem — the sense of reverence, the nod to roots, beginnings, of coming full circle in such beautifully spare verse. There is a wonderful feeling of wholeness, as if the poet wrapped the heart of his culture in that “flat, round speckled world.”

Speaking of the “perfect faces of my people,” enjoy this mini gallery of tortilla art by California native Joe Bravo, who began painting on tortillas because he couldn’t afford canvases back in his college days.

I use the Tortilla as a Canvas because it is an integral part of the Hispanic Culture and my heritage. For the subject matter of my tortilla paintings, I use imagery that is representative of Latinos, conveying their hopes, art, beliefs and history. As the tortilla has given us life, I give it new life by using it as an art medium.

JOE BRAVO TORTILLA ART

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“Food has always been my friend. When I wanted to feel better or had a crisis in my life, I opened the icebox.”

 

Fancy a plate of ants and worms, a bowl of lilac nectar, or some crabs and shrimp?

Maybe a bowl of chili or a BLT on whole wheat is more to your liking. :)

Whatever your pleasure, just come right in and take a seat! No reservations required. A good appetite, healthy curiosity and sense of humor are all you need to enjoy If an Armadillo Went to a Restaurant, a delectably charming picture book by Ellen Fischer and Laura Wood (Scarletta Kids, 2014).

I must confess this book had me at the cover. I was instantly intrigued by all the possible scenarios suggested by the title, and how often does one see a lovable armadillo noshing on a plate of spaghetti and meatballs?  I could already tell this would probably be one funny feast.

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“I think of myself as a poet first and a musician second. I live like a poet and I’ll die like a poet.” (Bob Dylan)

Just as he’s done for more than five decades, Bob Dylan is still releasing new albums (the latest is “Shadows in the Night,” a mellow collection of standards recorded live with his five-piece band), performing around the world with his Never Ending Tour, and receiving more honors and accolades (2015 MusiCares Person of the Year).

To promote “Shadows in the Night” he gave only one interview — to AARP Magazine, where he discussed his creative process and influences, revealing that he’s a big Shakespeare fan, and had he not become “Bob Dylan,” he would have liked to have been “a schoolteacher of Roman history or theology.”

When receiving his MusiCares award, he delivered a riveting acceptance speech crediting his sources of inspiration, thanking his various and sundry supporters, and even confronting his detractors. To those who would criticize his singing voice, he reminded them of what Sam Cooke said when told he had a beautiful voice:

Well that’s very kind of you, but voices ought not to be measured by how pretty they are. Instead they matter only if they convince you that they are telling the truth.

The voice of our generation — plain, real, everyman — endures. We need to hear and will always value the hard truths good poets tell.

Enjoy this bountiful three-course feast honoring Bob, who’ll turn 74 on Sunday, May 24. :)

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“In Westerns you were permitted to kiss your horse but never your girl.”

 

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