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Old 30-09-2003, 01:31 AM
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Default There is more to Mexican food than recipes

Don't worry Vilco, that outrage won't last long. We will fight to the
finish for the right to eat Italian Parma Ham.

"Vilco \(out\)" wrote in message ...
"Shelora" ha scritto

Hasn't anyone of you in the U.S. read about the failed World

Talks in Cancun recently?!!!!!!!!!!
How corn farmers in Mexico are getting shafted by U.S.

subsisties to
U. S. corn farmers!!!!!!!!!

Same here in Europe, with regard to african corn farmers.

Has anyone heard of the Slow Food society started in Italy?

Yes, even
in Mexico City there is a convivium to save some of Mexico's

foods and dishes.

Hey, you're from Canada? Listen to this:
We can not export Parma Ham to Canada because a canadian sucker
has patented that name.
Enjoy the imitations, or tell this sucker to f... off.


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Old 01-10-2003, 03:05 AM
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Default There is more to Mexican food than recipes

"A1 WBarfieldsr" wrote in message
. ..
I'm sorry Wayne, I see your point in the way workers go about their duties
in Mexico. Maybe that is why the big industries are not in Mexico.

[demented rambling deleted-who would want to go through all *that* again?]

Hmm..lots of industries in Mexico...almost everything I buy says "made in
Visit Arnold's comprehensive new website to find
his views on restoring confidence and stability to

It's time to return California to the people!
Join Arnold

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Old 03-10-2003, 04:58 AM
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Default There is more to Mexican food than recipes

Douglas S. Ladden wrote:

The Terran carbon-based unit designating itself as "The Ranger"
shared its ideas in
on Sat, 27 Sep 2003 04:09:02 GMT:

ObTopic: I enjoyed working with my Hispanic cow orkers all those
years in my restaurants. I can't tell you the number of weddings,
baptisms, and every-day meals that I LOVED being invited to; talk
about a zest for life!

Though I'm not quite sure what a "cow orker" is, *grin*, I can
definitely agree that Mexicans do have a zest for life, and definitely
know how to throw and enjoy a good party!

Cow orkers are similar to pig orkers, but taller.

(The devil made me type that).

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Old 03-10-2003, 06:47 AM
Douglas S. Ladden
Posts: n/a
Default There is more to Mexican food than recipes

The Terran carbon-based unit designating itself as Thurman
shared its ideas in
on Fri, 03 Oct 2003 03:58:10 GMT:

Douglas S. Ladden wrote:

The Terran carbon-based unit designating itself as "The Ranger"
shared its ideas in on Sat, 27 Sep 2003 04:09:02 GMT:

ObTopic: I enjoyed working with my Hispanic cow orkers all those
years in my restaurants. I can't tell you the number of weddings,
baptisms, and every-day meals that I LOVED being invited to; talk
about a zest for life!

Though I'm not quite sure what a "cow orker" is, *grin*, I
definitely agree that Mexicans do have a zest for life, and
definitely know how to throw and enjoy a good party!

Cow orkers are similar to pig orkers, but taller.

Hmm, this must be a Tolkien reference I am unfamiliar with. Also
an odd spelling of Orc, maybe it's a Brit thing. Gonna look it up. My
my, look what I found about "cow orkers":

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Old 08-10-2003, 07:01 AM
William Jennings
Posts: n/a
Default There is more to Mexican food than recipes

"Shelora" wrote in message
As the only Canadian contributor (or admitting Cdn.), there are a few
things I wish to say regarding this whole piece. t
What I'm going to do is just bring up my thoughts while reading
through all the messages listed.
Firstly, i want to say having spent time in the U.S. and seeing what
kind of print and television news media you have access to, I'm amazed
that you have any idea that there is any other cultures or countries
existing around you. You are sadly misformed that you are the centre
of the universe and I feel sorry for you that in this day and age, you
don't take the time to research other forms of print media.

factory jobs
Those lucrative factory jobs in Mexico are fastly declining as
historically U.S and Canada lost factory jobs to Mexico because of
cheap labour (see any info on Nike), now those jobs are being
transferred to China. I wouldn't blame anyone trying to find a better
life in the U.S. or Canada. Remember you are a country as we are in
Canada,founded on immigrants and our ancestories tried their best to
extinguish the indigenous people.
If myself or my family were losing their jobs once again because of
cheaper labour elsewhere, yes, I would sneak across any border that
would promise me or my family a better way of life.
We have any inundation of Dollar Stores here in Canada and everything
is made in China and is very, very cheap.
Ever heard of labour conditions in China????
Maybe you were conscious when labour condtions in Mexico where any
issue and publicized and how big corporate conglomerates were
pressured to make changes???? You don't perhaps see a corillation
between that information and that the switch to factories in China????

what autombiles are assembled in Mexico?
I urge you to read labels and pay attention. The new Volkswagon was
assembled or even made in Mexico. The Korean Atos, manufactured in
Mexico, under or affliated with Dodge, is super popular but due to
some weird law is targeted only for the Latin American market.

doing business in Mexico
Having had a retail store for five years, my husband and I studied
Mexican Spanish and precisely focussing on that. What was so
enlightening was that when introducing yourself to a prospective
client, was that you talked about family, yourselves, the weather,
then had lunch and a few drinks, THEN, you talked about business.
Totally opposite than our North American Attention Deficeit Approach -
introduction, let's see the product, how much is it, can we do a
deal?, does it see and how soon can we get it?
Hasn't anyone of you in the U.S. read about the failed World Trade
Talks in Cancun recently?!!!!!!!!!!
How corn farmers in Mexico are getting shafted by U.S. subsisties to
U. S. corn farmers!!!!!!!!!
How big conglomerites like MonSAnto want to elliminate things like
heirloom and heritage varieties of corn and other vegetables to a
streamlined, across the board style of food production that is
controlled only by them and their chemically produced seeds?????
We have got to wake up and protect these incredible food cultures of
the world.
Has anyone heard of the Slow Food society started in Italy? Yes, even
in Mexico City there is a convivium to save some of Mexico's heirloom
foods and dishes.
Thats it for now.

Everything you said is true, no doubt about it. The hard edge of reality
requires a certain blur so we don't go in the kitchen and cut our heads off.
This is why Mexico invented Tequila!

Here is something I know a little about and saved for no good reason:

C IUDAD ACUÑA, Mexico Juan Tovar Santos, an assembly- line worker
in this border city, will not forget the time he traveled to
Alcoa's annual shareholders meeting in Pittsburgh and confronted
the chief executive about working conditions in Alcoa factories

After Paul H. O'Neill, the Alcoa chief executive who became
President Bush's treasury secretary last month, trumpeted the
company's growing profits, Mr. Tovar stepped to a microphone. At
the time Mr. Tovar, who was earning about $6 a day, described Alcoa
managers so stingy that they stationed a janitor at bathroom doors
to limit workers to just three pieces of toilet paper. He also
recounted an incident in which more than 100 workers had been
overcome by fumes from a gas leak and taken to hospitals.

Mr. O'Neill, stunned by the descriptions, defended conditions in
Ciudad Acuña. "Our plants in Mexico are so clean they can eat off
the floor," he said.

"That's a lie," Mr. Tovar shot back, speaking in Spanish through an
interpreter. And he produced news clippings describing the
hospitalization of his co-workers from the gas leak.

After Mr. O'Neill's own investigation determined that the chief
executive of one of Alcoa's operations had covered up the leak, Mr.
O'Neill dismissed him and began to improve conditions at the eight
Acuña plants owned by Alcoa Fujikura Ltd., an Alcoa joint venture
with a Japanese company. Today, Alcoa pays wages that are among
Acuña's highest.

Still, since that meeting in 1996, tensions have continued to flare
in this city across from Del Rio, Tex. There have been difficult
meetings between Alcoa workers and managers to discuss pay,
benefits and bathroom breaks. There was a confrontation last
October in a factory parking lot in which Acuña police officers
lobbed tear gas at disgruntled workers.

In Acuña, as in other border settlements, Mexican workers earn such
miserable wages and American companies pay such minimal taxes that
its schools are a shambles, its hospital crumbling, its trash
collection slapdash, and its sewage lines collapsed. Half of
Acuña's 150,000 residents now use backyard latrines.

Over the years, Mexico and its people came to accept these
conditions in return for steady jobs. But now everyone from Mexican
tax officials to environmental experts in both countries are
debating the rules, written and unwritten, under which the mostly
American corporations have operated on the border. There is rising
concern that as factories making everything from sneakers to
televisions have spread through the developing world, labor rights
and environmental standards have often been overlooked.

"Acuña is a disgrace," said Javier Villarreal Lozano, a Mexican
historian who directs a government-financed cultural institute in
Coahuila, the state that includes Acuña. "A hundred years ago, U.S.
employers would have been ashamed of these conditions. Henry Ford's
workers living in cardboard boxes? He'd never have tolerated it."

Executives now say Alcoa recognizes that its responsibilities in
Mexico may not end at the industrial park gates.

In an interview last month, Robert S. Hughes II, Alcoa Fujikura's
chairman and chief executive, said Alcoa's wages were among Acuña's
highest, which local officials confirmed. The average wage for a
48-hour week at Alcoa's Acuña plants is $83, the company says. The
Border Workers Committee, a group that has represented laborers in
Acuña, put the average wage at $70.

Desribing Alcoa's environmental and safety practices here as
"world-class," Mr. Hughes said the company bases its policies on
"some very clear values around people." But he acknowledged that
Acuña's crisis is troubling, and said Alcoa may step up its efforts
at corporate philanthropy.

"You're asking me, `do you like what you see when you drive through
some of these residential areas and I've done this in Acuña, the
same thing in Brazil, in Bangkok, in China, and the issue you're
raising is important," Mr. Hughes said. "I don't think Alcoa can
solve all the ills of Mexico, but we're trying to do what's right."

A No-Union Tradition

After Mexico's government began offering tax-exempt status to
border assembly plants in the late 1960's, Jesús María Ramón
Valdez, a son of the man who dominated Acuña politics for decades,
began to bulldoze the family's sagebrush tracts into the city's
first industrial parks and to invite foreign corporations to set up
factories here known as maquiladoras. At first, many American
executives were reticent, Mr. Ramón Valdez recalled in a recent

"They said they didn't want to deal with Mexico as far as labor
unions," said Mr. Ramón Valdez, who was elected Acuña's mayor in
the early 1980's. To allay those fears, he said, he gave a
financial stake in the industrial parks to a top local labor
official. That has kept union organizers away from Acuña's plants
ever since, Mr. Ramón Valdez said. "I've always managed the
situation so that there are zero unions."

When Acuña began inviting American corporations south, Alcoa was
producing automotive wiring systems at plants in two Mississippi
towns, said Jack D. Jenkins, an Alcoa executive who works with Mr.
Hughes at Alcoa Fujikuri's headquarters in the prosperous Nashville
suburb of Brentwood, Tenn. Taiwanese and other Asian competitors
were beginning to produce wiring components more cheaply than Alcoa
could in the United States, Mr. Jenkins said. "For us it was either
move to Mexico or cease to exist," he said.

Alcoa built the first of its Acuña factories in 1982. Its arrival
coincided with a frenzy of construction in Acuña as subsidiaries of
many other American corporations, including General Electric and
Allied Signal, started up maquiladora (pronounced
mah-kee-lah-DOH-rah) manufacturing operations here.

When the foreign corporations began arriving in the 1970's, Acuña
was a sleepy Rio Grande settlement of 40,000 residents. Its
population exploded as thousands of dirt farmers and out-of-work
laborers streamed to Acuña from elsewhere in Mexico. With nowhere
to live, many built makeshift shelters on vacant lands, a process
that continues today. Hundreds of squatters even seized a railroad
siding, building shanties on the tracks.

By the 1990's, Acuña was growing faster than any other city in
northern Mexico, census officials said. Last year's census counted
110,388 residents in Acuña, but state and local officials called
that a gross undercount, estimating Acuña's population in the range
of 150,000 to 180,000. The city now has 60 plants.

Despite the population explosion in Acuña, there have frequently
been more jobs than workers. So employers sent recruiters
throughout Mexico to bring workers north.

A Struggle for Housing

One recruit was Isidro Esquivel Sánchez, who grew up in a desert
town 350 miles south. In 1996 he was 21 and out of work when an
Alcoa manager drove through, shouting with a loudspeaker about a
better life in Acuña. It sounded good, Mr. Esquivel recalled, and
he, his 19-year-old wife and two teenage siblings boarded an Alcoa

When the convoy arrived in Acuña, the Esquivels and other recruits
were dumped out in the central plaza on a Friday night and told to
fend for themselves until Monday, when Alcoa's employment offices
would open. Many of the bewildered workers slept on park benches; a
kind Acuña woman let the Esquivels sleep on her floor, Mr. Esquivel

Mr. Hughes said that he doubted that Alcoa workers could have been
treated so shabbily. "If this ever occurred it is a clear violation
of the way we want to run our company," he said in the interview in
a San Antonio hotel. An aide to Mr. Hughes acknowledged, however,
that Alcoa provides no accommodations for recruits, instead asking
them to pledge before the trip north that they have relatives who
can put them up in Acuña.

Mr. Esquivel eventually got a job lugging boxes of parts to an
Alcoa assembly line. He has lost all illusion that he has found a
better life. "They work us like donkeys, and we come back to this,"
he said one evening, at the one-room, dirt-floor hovel with a rear
outhouse that is home to him and his family.

Still, the Esquivels can say they have a house. Óscar Chávez Día=
who worked for Alcoa until late last year, lives with his wife,
Nelba, in the rusting carcass of a school bus.

They keep their clothes in a pile where the driver's seat used to
be, and Mr. Chavez has installed a tiny three-burner stove and
refrigerator beyond the bed, near the rear emergency door. He
strapped an air conditioner to a side window to little effect; the
bus still heats up like an oven in the sweltering summer sun. In
winter it is an icebox.

Mr. Chávez bathes standing on his bus's front steps, ladling water
from a bucket. The water comes from a spigot out front. It is
undrinkable because the water filtration plant, which takes its
water from the Rio Grande, was built almost 40 years ago, and
cannot come close to providing clean water for the area's swelling

During an interview in October, Mr. Chávez showed a reporter pay
stubs indicating that his weekly Alcoa take-home pay was $60. He
said he spent about $11 for bottled drinking water. About $5 went
to rent the bus, $20 for electricity and $10 for busses and taxis,
he said. (He has no car.) There was little left for food or
clothing. His wife, who worked in another Acuña plant stitching
leather seats for Chevrolet Corvettes, earned about the same as her
husband. She was spending about $40 a week on their groceries, Mr.
Chavez said.

Dr. Ruth A. Rosenbaum, a social economist based in Hartford,
studied the purchasing power of Mexican workers in 11 border cities
last year. She calculated that even using Mr. Chavez's wages to buy
only the cheapest products available in Acuña, he had to work
nearly a week last fall to outfit his son, Raúl, 6, for school, 16
hours to earn enough to buy the cheapest sneakers, 12 hours for a
bookbag, 9 hours for a pair of boy's pants, 3 hours for a little
white shirt and 4 hours for notebooks and pencils.

"You study these wages for a while and it makes you sick to your
stomach," Dr. Rosenbaum said.

Support From the North

Two American church groups, the American Friends Service Committee
and the Congregation of Benedictine Sisters, have been pressing for
better treatment of Alcoa's Mexican workers. In 1996, they helped
Mr. Tovar, then 30 and earning less than $35 a week, to travel to
Pittsburgh for the annual Alcoa meeting.

When Mr. O'Neill, then Alcoa's chief executive, heard of the plans
to bring a worker to the meeting, he telephoned Susan Mika, a
Benedictine Sister, in San Antonio.

" `Are you bringing workers from Mexico up to our annual meeting?'
O'Neill asked me," Sister Mika recalled recently. "He was
screaming. He was very upset."

But days later, using the Benedictine Congregation's ownership of
Alcoa stock, Sister Mika helped Mr. Tovar enter the meeting. That
is when Mr. Tovar confronted Mr. O'Neill about Alcoa's treatment of
its Acuña workers, including the limits on toilet paper, which are
not uncommon in public buildings in Mexico but seemed degrading to
workers in the factory.

After that confrontation, Alcoa's toilet paper policy became more
generous, cafeterias were modernized, and other conditions
improved, Sister Mika and Alcoa workers said. Mr. O'Neill also
ordered a significant pay increase.

But worker discontent continued. Last spring, a dispute over
delayed paychecks in one Alcoa plant here sparked a brief work
stoppage. Weeks later, Mr. Hughes traveled to Acuña for a
face-to-face encounter with laborers in a downtown taco restaurant.
It was a rare meeting, as senior American executives almost never
go to Mexico to discuss complaints directly with workers.

Sixty laborers showed up straight from the assembly line to meet
Mr. Hughes and other Alcoa executives. Also present was Julia
Quiñónez, director of the Border Workers Committee.

Mr. Hughes, shirt sleeves rolled up and speaking through an
interpreter, promised that there would be no reprisals for workers
who spoke their minds. So they did, complaining that their pay was
barely sufficient to stave off starvation. Mr. Hughes reminded
workers that their compensation included not just wages, at that
time about $7 a day, but also free bus rides to work, a $4.85
weekly grocery coupon and other benefits.

One laborer asked why Alcoa's profit- sharing payments, required by
Mexican law, were so meager, especially as Acuña plants appear
profitable and Mr. O'Neill had exercised $33 million in stock
options beyond his $3 million salary in 1999. (Acuña workers said
Alcoa made profit-sharing payments of about $40 a worker last
year.) "The workers just told the truth about their lives," Ms.
Quiñónez recalled. "They were saying, `Look, we're not robots."'

Mr. Hughes promised to study and perhaps revise Alcoa's
compensation. Five months later, hundreds of workers grew impatient
waiting for answers, and walked out of two Acuña plants to protest
in an Alcoa parking lot. Acuña police surrounded them and fired
tear gas. The protests spread, and the company was forced to
negotiate, reinstating some fired workers. Scores of others quit,
accepting severance payments obligated by Mexican law. One was Mr.
Chávez, the worker living in the bus, who has since taken a job at
another factory at about the same wage.

In November, Alcoa completed its study, and Mr. Hughes announced
significant wage and benefit improvements. Mr. Tovar, who has
worked at Alcoa for nine years, said his daily wage rose from $6.70
to $8.50. With bonuses for perfect attendance, grocery coupons and
other benefits, his weekly compensation could now reach $90, he

Ricardo Hernández, who has monitored Alcoa's practices in Acuña fo=
the American Friends Service Committee, commended Mr. Hughes in a
recent letter to him, while reporting that some Alcoa plant
managers have recently threatened workers who participated in the
October conflict.

A reporter who toured two of Alcoa's Acuña plants last month saw
workers soldering electrical components and weaving the
octopus-like wiring systems for automobiles along well-lit and
ventilated assembly lines. Cafeterias were clean, and workers wore
protective eyeglasses.

But despite Alcoa's wage increases and improvements in factory
conditions, its Acuña workers still live in a squalid grid of dirt
streets, rotting garbage and swamps of open sewage.

Perhaps no one understands the problem better than Acuña's current
mayor, Eduardo Ramón Valdez, a brother of the industrial park
developer. In an interview, he said his city needs huge investments
in potable water and paved streets. The fire department is
virtually broke, so Del Rio, its twin city in Texas, has several
times recently sent its fire trucks across the bridge, sirens
shrieking, into Acuña to extinguish fires. Acuña's 60-year-old
Social Security hospital, the basic health service for most factory
workers, is outdated and overwhelmed. It has 45 beds; the city
needs several times that many, he said.

And Acuña's 135 schools lack, well, nearly everything, the mayor
said. "Every week I get some new plea from our teachers," the mayor
said. "They need windows, toilets, drinking water. They want desks.
They want a flag. It's an endless list."

But Acuña's 2000 budget was $9 million, he said, which means the
city could spend just $60 on each resident. In contrast, the budget
of Del Rio, population 45,000, is $32 million, allowing for a per
capita expenditure of $777, 13 times as high.

Governments Short on Money Many experts blame the impoverishment on
the government, which for decades has spent the lion's share of tax
revenues in Mexico City. Mexico's new president, Vicente Fox, has
vowed to be more generous with cities and towns and has promised a
new focus on the border region's ills. Yet manufacturers along the
border are not contributing much to the overall tax pie, and some
officials have begun to question whether Mexico benefits from the
tax breaks given to foreign companies.

Mexico City and Washington agreed in 1999 on a modest increase in
the Mexican income taxes paid by American companies operating
duty-free assembly plants here, while cutting their United States
tax obligations by an equal amount, said Ricardo González Orta,
former President Ernesto Zedillo's director of tax policies.
Historically, he said, American corporations have vigorously
opposed increases in their Mexican taxes.

Asked how much Alcoa pays in taxes for its Acuña operations, a
spokeswoman said in a written statement that in 1999, Alcoa's Acuña
factories paid a $450,000 Coahuila state payroll tax, $7.8 million
to Mexico's Social Security system and $2.4 million in federal
taxes earmarked for low-cost housing. The statement appeared to
indicate that Alcoa paid no income, property, asset, import,
export, sales or value-added taxes that year in Acuña. The company
spokesman, Bonita A. Cersosimo, did not respond to requests for

Alcoa's annual reports and other company documents suggest that
Alcoa Fujikura's operations in Mexico are quite profitable. In the
interview, Mr. Hughes declined to disclose the prices or profits
earned on the electrical systems manufactured in Acuña, calling
that proprietary information.

Alcoa donated a $50,000 ambulance to Acuña in 1998, and the
following year, with Ford Motor, donated $52,000 to build the
Ford-Alcoa elementary school, which has 300 students enrolled in
six grades.

Patricia Pérez, the lone teacher at the school during a reporter's
visit last month, complained that the roof leaks, windows fall out,
and no playground was built so that classrooms are surrounded by a
sea of mud. But conditions appeared no worse than at scores of
other broken-down Acuña schools.

In all, Alcoa donated some $170,000 to fund various Acuña civic
projects last year, including support for a riverside park, an
Alcoa spokeswoman said. "Wherever Alcoa operates around the world,
we take being a good corporate citizen seriously," Mr. Hughes said
in the interview. "We're wrestling right now with whether there's
more we should be doing around community support in places like
Acuña. Should we do more around housing, education, or health

The day after Mr. Hughes spoke in his Texas hotel room, a rooster's
crow awoke Mr. Tovar long before the sun in his two- room
mortar-block home in Acuña, where he shares a bed in a makeshift
kitchen with his wife, Arcelia. She boiled water for coffee and
fried some potatoes, wrapping them in flour tortillas for Mr.
Tovar's lunch.

A hug and a kiss later, he was in his battered pickup truck,
bumping across Acuña's rutted streets in a freezing drizzle. At an
intersection, police were ankle deep in mud, trying to unsnarl
traffic backed up behind a blocked drainage culvert. Mr. Tovar
swerved onto a side street, driving frantically to reach Alcoa's
Plant No. 5 before 7 a.m. He could not afford to lose his $3-
a-week punctuality bonus.

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