The Battle of Calderon Bridge (Tony Burton)

Did you know? Independence battle map is upside down

The battle in question is the Battle of Calderon Bridge (Batalla del Puente de Calderon), fought just outside Guadalajara in January 1811 as part of Mexico’s fight for Independence. The decisive battle was waged on the morning of Thursday, January 17. Imagine the scene. One side, led by Ignacio Allende, had some eighty thousand ill-equipped […]

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Tehuana Mamas Cook Up Magic: Food and Fiestas in the Isthmus

Mexican Kitchen Perhaps the most distinctive characteristic of Oaxaca is the tremendous difference between one region of the state and another. The sierras which crisscross it form natural boundaries between enclaves of culture which have existed since pre-Hispanic times. One of the most unique and charismatic of these is a group known as istmeños, inhabitants of the […]

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Fuchsia fulgens

Did you know? Many common garden flowers originated in Mexico

Karl Theodor Hartweg (1812-1871) came from a long line of gardeners and had gardening in his genes. Born in Karlsruhe, Germany, on June 18, 1812, he worked in Paris, at the Jardin des Plantes, before moving to England to work in the U.K. Horticultural Society’s Chiswick gardens in London. Keen to travel even further afield, […]

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Primitive tequila still (Lumholtz, 1897)

Did You Know? Tequila dates from the sixteenth century

In 1897, Carl Lumholtz, the famous Norwegian ethnologist, who spent several years living with remote Indian tribes in Mexico, found that the Huichol Indians in eastern Nayarit distilled agave juice using simple pot stills, the pots being quite unlike any other Spanish or pre-Columbian vessels. By 1944, Henry Bruman, a University of California geographer, had […]

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A yearly culinary ritual: La matanza

Beginning in mid-October, and lasting for a month, a five-hundred-year-old ritual encompassing history, tradition and cuisine takes place in the valley of Tehuacan, in the Mixteca Poblana region of southern Puebla. Traveling through this rocky, hardscrabble land, one wonders how the inhabitants have sustained themselves for thousands of years and marvels at the fact that […]

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Vanilla: a Mexican native regains its reputation

Mention vanilla, and people are apt to think of the ice-cream flavor they select when confronted with a mind-boggling choice involving everything from chirimoya to cheesecake: “just plain vanilla.” What started out as one of the most exotic flavors to be introduced to the European palate has come to be equated with blandness. Even more […]

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Juan Pascoe at his press Photo reproduced by kind permission of Juan Pascoe

Did you know? Mexico has one of the world’s oldest still-functioning printing presses

One of the oldest printing presses still in operation anywhere in the world is in Tacámbaro, Michoacán. Juan Pascoe lives on a remote ex-hacienda outside Tacámbaro, Michoacán. Visitors invited to view his work often think they’ve lost their way in the surrounding sugar-cane fields, but then suddenly catch their first glimpse of the former Great […]

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Cover of Mexican Kaleidoscope

Mexican Kaleidoscope – Myths, Mysteries & Mystique

Tony Burton’s Mexican Kaleidoscope is a whirlwind trip through some of the underpinnings of Mexican culture, told with humour, affection and well-documented facts. This readable compendium of little known stories made me want to revisit many places I’d already seen. How much richer my experiences would have been had I been able to take this user-friendly and […]

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