From one blog hop, straight into another … if you are looking for my Bead Soup Blog Hop post it’s here.
I’ve done a bit of travelling in my time. Family relocations from Australia to the USA and back again when I was a child, camping trips, road trips across Australia to visit relatives and then my own relocation to the US in 1990 and back to Australia 11 years later, but not before a three month road trip around the States! I’ve been to a fair few countries in Europe, a couple of tropical paradises in SE Asia and I’ve seen quite a bit of my own country too.
So when Erin Prais-Hintz announced the Challenge of Travel, I signed up very quickly!
In Erin’s words …
… travel with us around the world from the comfort of your own home. In this challenge you will be tasked with creating an accessory that captures the spirit of the nation that you are assigned.
Whatever your inspiration… the climate, the landscape, the colors on a topographical map, the way the people dress or what they eat, the architecture of the cities or the natural landmarks… I challenge you to be inspired by travel this month!
The first part of the challenge was to choose the country. The rules were to choose a geographical region (not your own) and a country, or have one assigned to you. I chose Mexico, the southernmost of the three countries of North America.
I’ve always been fascinated by Mexico, its culture and its cuisine. I remember a few things from my first trip to Mexico, at the tender age of 5 … the powerful smells of Mexico City, one of the most densely populated cities in the world, my Mum getting a dose of Montezuma’s revenge, flashes of climbing pyramid-shaped Aztec temple ruins and going to the Floating Markets … that may or may not come from photographs in my parents’ photo albums. But sadly, despite 11 years of living in the US as an adult, I managed to visit Mexico exactly once, to go scuba diving in Cozumel, an island off the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. While there we managed to visit Tulum, a fascinating Mayan ruin in a picturesque location on the Yucatán coast.
The seaside view of El Castillo at Tulum
Mexico has some fascinating traditions that draw on both its ancient Mayan, Olmec and Aztec civilisations and the more recent Spanish-Catholic influence. One of my favourites is Día de las Muertos—the Day of the Dead—which is celebrated on November 1st and 2nd, the same time as the Catholic Church’s All Saints and All Souls Days. Derived from an Aztec festival, it’s a time to celebrate and pray for friends and family members who have died, with visits to their graves to be with the departed souls. Traditions include building altars to the deceased that are decorated with sugar skulls and marigolds as well as the favourite foods and drinks of the dear departed.
A common symbol of the holiday is the calavera, or skull, and the calaca, or skeleton, which are often used as decorations for the Day of the Dead festival, as masks or costumes, small figures and sweet treats, or sugar skulls.
photo credit: digiyesica via photo pin cc
I have a couple of sugar skull pendants made by Australian ceramic artist, Natalie Fletcher. And recently she came up with some fantastic beads in bright colours that matched the colours used to decorate her sugar skull pendants.
I used black waxed linen cord to create some pretty czech glass dangles below the pendant and then knotted the bright ceramic beads above the pendant, along with a couple of silver-plated pewter spacer beads and some little birds. Above the knotted section I created a chain out of silver-plated pewter bone-shaped links and jump rings and finished the necklace off with a sun-shaped toggle. The silver plated components all come from TierraCast’s Viva Mexicana range.
And because this blog is called Beadrecipes, after two of the things I like to do in my spare time, I thought I would finish off with a recipe! So here are some Mexican-inspired fish tacos and skillet potatoes. Now I say inspired by, because tacos are not usually served in flour tortillas, however I could not get soft corn tortillas at our supermarket the day I made these. But the flavours are there!
Fish Tacos with skillet potatoes
Adapted from Masterchef Magazine, issue 24, June 2012
1/2 c plain flour
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp salt
500g flathead tails
olive oil to shallow fry
guacamole (see recipe below)
Flour or corn tortillas
1-2 tsp mexican spice blend
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
Combine spices and salt with flour on a large plate. Dredge fish in the flour mixture and shake off excess.
Heat 1cm of oil in a frypan over med-high heat.
Cook fish on each side for 1-2 minutes until cooked through. Drain on paper towel.
Heat tortillas in oven or microwave according to package directions.
Assemble tacos: place tortilla on plates, spread some guacamole down centre, flake fish into large pieces and place on top of guacamole. Top with shredded lettuce, salsa, cheese and sour cream as preferred. Fold in half or roll up. Serve with skillet potatoes (recipe follows).
Cut potatoes into 1.5 cm dice.
Toss with mexican spice blend.
Heat 2 Tbsp oil over med-high heat in frypan with lid. Add potatoes and cook stirring continuously for 5 minutes.
Add remaining oil and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring continuously.
Reduce heat to medium, cover and cook for another 5 minutes or until tender.
1 lge tomato or a handful of cherry tomatoes
2 spring onions, finely chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
handful of chopped coriander
juice of 1-2 limes
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
jalapeno chili, chopped (optional)
Mash avocado flesh roughly with a fork
Finely chop tomatoes and add to avocado along with spring onions, coriander, garlic and chili if using.
Add lime juice, salt and pepper to taste.
1. Substitute flathead tails with any firm white fish, such as snapper.
2. Instead of mexican spice blend, use a combination of 1 tsp smoked paprika, 1 tsp of chili powder and 1 tsp salt.
3. This is really quite a loose recipe, adjust to suit the ingredients on hand. Tomatoes are optional in the guacamole, as is the chili, depending on your tastes.
Now sit back with a margarita and enjoy the blog hop!