Culture

Chicago’s Deep Dish Pizza Is Getting A Mexican Makeover

Everyone knows Chicago’s deep dish game is on point. But Gino’s East, one of the originators of the Windy City cuisine, is looking to improve on perfection by bringing Mexican flavors into the mix.

Deep dish pizza. @ginoseastmx #NuestraPanzaNoEsDeSalarioMinimo

A photo posted by Jorge (@jorgeriquez) on

#pizza #chicago #df #mextangram #sunday

A photo posted by César Fajardo (@cesarfajardo) on

CREDIT: CESAR FAJARDO / INSTAGRAM

Their gamble was a success. Within the first year, the Mexico City location was making a profit.

Taking a cue from the success of their Mexico City location, Gino’s East in Chicago began playing with their own menu. Their shop in Pilsen, a predominantly Latino neighborhood, features Mexican inspired pizzas.

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While adding ingredients like Oaxacan cheese, al pastor, cactus and carnitas, the deep dish pizza sounds amazing in theory, the execution is what really matters.

Love at first bite.? #ginoseast #chicagodeepdish ? @rhubarb_astor

A photo posted by Gino's East (@ginoseast) on

Chicago has one of the largest populations of Latinos in the U.S., and Gino’s is located in Pilsen, a predominantly Mexican neighborhood. Gino’s is really going to have to step up their game to compete with the local fare.

CREDIT: escaparate! Tv / YOUTUBE

So far, Yelpers haven’t shied away from praising the company’s attempt at fusion.

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However, it’s Yelp, so there’s also those who are less than enthused with their dining experience.

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It’s cool to see companies incorporating Mexican food into their menus, but I can’t help but feel a little cynical about the growing acceptance from the mainstream. AHEM.

CREDIT: GEICO

It’s no secret that Latinos bring a lot of money to the economy, and when a company starts offering up items that border on pandering, it feels like we’re being viewed as dollar signs rather than people…

Oh, pizza. I can’t stay mad at you.

CREDIT: DOMINOS

If you’re in the Chicago area, check out the pizza at Gino’s and let us know your thoughts.


Read: Mexicans Finally Get Mainstream Acceptance… In The Form Of The Whopperrito

Terrifying Video Shows A Mexican Teenager Killing Two People In A Pickup Truck

Things That Matter

Terrifying Video Shows A Mexican Teenager Killing Two People In A Pickup Truck

@lpueblo2 / Twitter

Footage of a teenage assassin asking his driver to film a cold-blooded double homicide has gone viral, putting pressure on local officials in Mexico to make an arrest. Just days before Christmas, at an otherwise normal traffic light in the border city Ciudad Juárez, a teenager turned to his driver and simply said, “Record, Cruz,” before he hopped out the car, approached the driver’s side of a red pickup truck and firing off nearly 20 gunshots. He walked back to the car, hopped in, and the footage ends as we see the driver making a u-turn as they drive away from the scene of the crime. 

Local media in Mexico had widely reported both the identity and news of the arrest of the suspect, but, unfortunately, only one of those pieces of information is true. Officials have confirmed the identity of the suspect to be 19-year-old José Carlos Molina. Unfortunately, no arrests have been made and Molina is still at large.

The footage José Carlos Molina shooting in the pickup truck is shocking.

CREDIT: @LPUEBLO2 / TWITTER

Without hesitation, Molina is seen walking in front of his getaway car toward the driver’s side of the red pickup truck target. Officials suspect that he asked the driver to film him as proof that he got the ‘job’ done for whoever ordered the hit. At around 1:30 p.m. on Dec. 22, 2019, the teen sicario followed through on the hit job and killed two men in just under 30 seconds. 

Molina is seen mercilessly firing over a dozen rounds into the driver’s side as the driver unsuccessfully tries to drive away.

CREDIT: @LPUEBLO2 / TWITTER

The pickup truck begins to creep forward as the driver likely understands to flee from danger, but was immobilized by the onslaught of bullets. The two victims were confirmed dead, but their identities have yet to be revealed. Molina is seen briskly walking back to his getaway car when the traffic lights change. Traffic begins to move again but Molina and his accomplice quickly merge into opposing traffic and escape seamlessly.

Molina has since been confirmed by local media reports as drug cartel hitman, with an already horrific rap sheet. According to La Opinion, Molina likely belongs to one of the five cartel groups that operate in Chihuahua, Mexico: Neuva Gente, of the Sinaloa cartel (CDS), Los Mexicles, La Línea, of the Tijuana cartel (CAF), Los Aztecas or Los Cristaleros.

Molina has targeted and killed other people in Ciudad Juárez, which lies just across the border from El Paso, Texas.

CREDIT: @LPUEBLO2 / TWITTER

According to Molina’s existing criminal record, he lives in Colonia Bellavista, and heavily operates in Ciudad Juárez. Molina had already been arrested for assassinating a couple in Ciudad Juárez. Police arrested him, captured the above mug shot, but he wasn’t stopped from killing others. His mugshot began circulating social media and local outlets began to report that Molina had been arrested for his most recent crime.

As of Monday, no arrests have been carried out, but Molina is certainly the identified suspect, according to a spokesperson at the Northern Zone’s Attorney General’s office of the state of Chihuahua told The Daily Mail.

As shocking as the crime is to many Americans, Mexicans are quick to comment “Every day in #Mexico.”

CREDIT: @LPUEBLO2 / TWITTER

Murder rates are on the rise in Mexico, with 2019 becoming the third deadliest year for Ciudad Juárez of the 2010s. On average, 4.1 people were murdered every single day in Ciudad Juárez last year, with a total of 1,498 homicides total last year. Still, compared to 2010, the number of homicides in the city are less than half of what they were at the beginning of the decade. “The sad daily reality of Mexico…” one Twitter user comments, adding in Spanish that, “For 1,000 pesos, less than 50 euros, a hitman can eliminate a person with total impunity.”

Still, others are wondering aloud what the victims did to provoke the target of the cartel. “I do not like to criminalize, and even less criminalize the dead, but it is very rare that they arrive and kill you anymore,” commented Indio Rey (@IndioRey30). Others are lamenting that “the laws do not help since he is a minor,” though it’s hard to contest what the video shows so clearly. Somebody opened fire and killed those two men and requested that the murder be recorded.

READ: A Local Police Chief Has Been Arrested In An Alleged Connection To The Murders Of The LeBaron Family In Mexico

Here’s The History Behind One Of Mexico’s Most Iconic Drinks, Café De Olla

Culture

Here’s The History Behind One Of Mexico’s Most Iconic Drinks, Café De Olla

Javier Rojas / mitú

The smell of roasted cinnamon sticks wakes up Vanessa Ortiz on most mornings. Or sometimes it’s the whiff of the roasted cacao beans coming from the kitchen. The scents are the product of her mother brewing up her daily cup of café de olla. 

“The smell of it is just so inviting and it makes me think of Mexico,” Ortiz, 20, says as she takes in a sip herself. “For as long as I can remember café de olla has been part of my life.”

Ortiz, who grew up in East Los Angeles, is one of many Latinos that feel a sense of nostalgia, or in her case, pride when it comes to café de olla. That may be due to the drink being passed on from generation to generation. Or maybe it’s the story behind the drink that is steeped deep in Mexican history. But what many might not know is that women played a central role in the creation of café de olla.

The drink’s origin dates back to the 1800s during the Mexican Revolution where women made their mark on the frontlines. 

Credit: Javier Rojas

Those who participated in the war efforts were called Adelitas, named after Adela Velarde Pérez, a nurse from Ciudad Juarez. She would become a central figure in how women were viewed during the Mexican Revolution due to her part in helping injured soldiers. Pérez led the way for other women at war to be recognized for the contributions, one of the biggest being café de olla. 

The roles women played during the war weren’t easy. They had to carry soldiers’ bags, set up and broke down camps, and take care of all the food. It was at these war camps during the Mexican Revolution that café de olla was born. 

To keep up the stamina of these soldiers, the adelitas created a blend of spices, coffee, and sugar in giant clay pots which they would then hand out to all the soldiers for an energy boost throughout the long war. This blend of coffee would be called café de olla, literally meaning “coffee from a clay pot.”

Chuy Tovar, 50, the owner of Primera Taza, a popular coffee spot in East Los Angeles, says that the adelitas don’t get enough credit for the impact they had behind the scenes of the war.

Credit: Javier Rojas

“Without women there wouldn’t even be café de olla,” Tovar says. “These women played a huge role in those days and their influence was on the battlefield as well as in the café de olla that helped fuel soldiers. The women not only prepared the food but they also fought on the lines.”

“How the hell they did that? I have no clue.”

It was in areas like the port of Veracruz where coffee first made one of its first appearances in Mexico and little by little coffee plantations emerged, mainly in the states of Oaxaca, Chiapas, and Veracruz. This played a huge role in the growth of the drink throughout the country with women in those communities all having their own unique take on café de olla. 

Tovar says it was a collective combination of various indigenous communities coming together that all had their input on the drink. Whether it was the piloncillo or the cacao beans used in the drink, there’s influence seen from different states throughout Mexico. 

While the details of who made the final decisions on what ingredients would go into café de olla are still up in the air, Tovar says they knew they had to put a stimulant that would have caffeine to fuel soldiers for the day. 

He believes the drink was made as a “precautionary beverage” that was made with a medicinal purpose to help with hunger and supply nutrients for soldiers. He said a typical lunch would include beans and a cup of café de olla. 

“It was something to suppress their hunger during the day. I think the ingredients were well thought out for its time,” Tovar said. “These women are heroes for many reasons but they’ve no doubt created a drink that’s still being enjoyed to this day.”

Today, café de olla is seeing a revival. Whether that may be due to more people connecting with their roots or just the expansion of different coffees, there’s excitement brewing.  

Credit: Javier Rojas

Café de olla is seeing somewhat of a resurgence. Many coffee shops are taking notice and putting their own spin on the drink, particularly in southern California. La Monarca, an artisanal Mexican bakery located throughout Los Angeles, is one of the biggest drivers leading this café de olla revival. The drink has become one of it’s best selling items which may be due to its effort to stay true to the traditional roots of the beverage.

“The recipe was perfected over the years, the brewing process was difficult as subtle differences in the ratio of spice to coffee and sugar created variability in taste. We settled on high-quality cinnamon sourced from Mexico and developed a cold-brewed recipe for our retail locations. The result is our number one bestseller, both in-store and online,” La Monarca CEO Ricardo Cervantes said. 

For Tovar, whose Boyle Heights coffee shop has moved from different locations over the last few years, he still gets the same customers yearning for a sip of his café de olla. He says the drink has seen a rise in popularity for the last few years and he credits that to people wanting to reconnect with their Latin roots. 

Tovar sources all of his coffee beans from Mexico and that may be why he draws in an older generation from the predominantly Latino neighborhood. He says by showcasing these ingredients he’s getting to share a taste of the quality regional coffee’s that Mexico is known for. 

“I see the young ones come in and ask for an iced café de olla or even extra cinnamon (which he calls “spiced coffee”) but it’s popular and I appreciate it,” Tovar says. “People can connect to their parents or their ancestors just by the smell and that’s special.”

José Rodríguez has his own take on café de olla at his coffee shop, Akat Cafe Kalli, in Lake Merritt, Oakland.

Credit: Javier Rojas

Rodríguez mixes the drink with heavy cinnamon and a light drip of honey. Over the past year, his unique take on café de olla has led to the drink becoming his most popular beverage.

“This formula has worked for me and it’s me trying to be true to the original drink but at the same time have my spin on it,” Rodriguez says. “Café de olla for many of us is a way to connect with our indigenous roots and in reality, it reminds me of my mother.”

Growing up, Rodriguez would usually find his mother in the kitchen and a clay pot would usually be brewing next to her. He’d spend mornings picking her mind about Mexican coffee and learning the craft of making café de olla.

“It doesn’t matter your economic situation or what your political belief is, I could recall countless memories with friends and family and a cup of café de olla would usually be in my hand,” Rodriguez says. “We don’t give enough credit to the women that created this coffee.”

This sentiment is felt for many Latinos who see the drink as a part of their family history that in some ways acts as a bridge to the past. Ortiz can relate to this as she gets emotional when speaking about family memories in the kitchen during Christmas time. She wipes away a tear and recalls one of the few memories she has with her grandmother, who passed away when she was only seven years old. That memory involved her making café de olla from scratch with her, something she never forgets. 

“This drink has a special place in my heart that is hard to describe honestly,” Ortiz says as she sips on a freshly brewed cup of café de olla. “It’s been in my family for generations and hopefully I’ll be passing it on to my kids one day too.” 

READ: Coquito and Crème de Vie: How Are They Different And Where Did They Come From?