Things That Matter

He Started Selling Nopales To Survive The Pandemic, And Mexicans Helped This Abuelito’s Business Go Viral

Economies around the world are in free fall as the global pandemic forces business to close and workers to stay at home. A portion of the population is fortunate enough to be able to work from the safety of their home, but for many that’s not an option.

Across Latin America, the majority of the population works in the informal economy – running street food stalls, selling electronics on the metro, or cleaning homes. For these workers, a day without work could mean the difference between eating or not.

Street vendors across Mexico are suffering as their customer base is forced to stay indoors amid the pandemic.

Credit: omgitsjustintime / Instagram

It’s estimated that about 60% of Mexico’s population works in the informal economy – meaning they’re unregulated and don’t have access to government or employer benefits like paid time off, health insurance, etc. They’re especially at risk when it comes to the economic costs of the global Coronavirus pandemic.

Their predicament is widespread throughout the developing world. Hundreds of millions of workers and self-employed service providers form a vast informal economy, from Mexico to Colombia to Brazil. Most have no access to unemployment insurance or much in the way of savings.

Alfredo is a nopal vendor who has lost most of his business due to the pandemic and struggled to feed his family.

Credit: Productos Riveras / Facebook

In Mexico’s Sonora state, Alfredo Rivera has spent the last 40 years selling nopales and he’s never struggled as much as he is now under the Coronavirus pandemic. His business has all but dried up as his customers are forced to stay indoors for their own safety.

In an interview with El Universal, Rivera says “It’s very difficult to sell because the streets are basically empty. For us, it’s so hard because we live day to day and we don’t have other options. This is why we continue to fight.”

He added: “We have had it hard because people don’t want to go out, let alone have contact with other people. Likewise, since some people in our town aren’t working, they also can’t afford to buy from us.”

Workers are getting creative and turning to technology to help boost their sales.

Credit: Adriana Magallanes / Flickr

The nopal vendor in Sonora, on the advice of his wife, created a Facebook page to help draw in more clients. To his surprise, the Facebook page has helped boost demand and he’s sod out his entire supply of nopales for the rest of April.

And the family is extremely grateful to the community for their support.

They were extremely worried about the economic effects of the pandemic because they have a son with a disability which puts him at increased risk of contracting the virus.

Rivera isn’t the only informal worker worried about the economic ramifications of the pandemic.

Credit: Evaristo Sa / Getty

Across the globe, communities are struggling to make ends meet amid an economic slowdown. Protests have broken out in cities in the United States, India, and Brazil against the quarantine measures many governments have put into place.

Such sentiments could prove combustible across a swath of countries where there already is anger at ruling elites—a possibility not lost on government officials, who have scrambled to put together emergency aid packages.

For such people, “if the alternative is to starve to death, they’re going to want to go back to work,” said Cynthia Arnson, who heads the Latin America Program at the Washington-based Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars. “People are going to say, ‘What are my odds of getting Covid-19 and really suffering from it as opposed to not being able to feed my family?’”

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A University Is Releasing A Historic Mexican Cookbook Filled With Recipes You’d Want To Try

Culture

A University Is Releasing A Historic Mexican Cookbook Filled With Recipes You’d Want To Try

UTSA

The University of Texas San Antonio is bringing the history of Mexico into our kitchens. The university is releasing cookbooks that are collections of historic Mexican recipes. Right now, the desserts book is out and online for free. Main dishes and appetizers/drinks are coming soon.

You can now taste historic Mexico thanks to the University of Texas San Antonio.

UTSA has had an ongoing project of preserving, collecting, and digitizing cookbooks from throughout Mexico’s history. Some books date back to the 1700s and offer a look into Mexico’s culinary arts and its evolution.

UTSA has been digitizing Mexican cookbooks for years and the work is now being collected for people in the time of Covid.

Millions of us are still at home and projects like these can be very exciting and exactly what you need. The recipes are a way to distract yourself from the current reality.

“The e-pubs allow home cooks to use the recipes as inspiration in their own kitchens,” Dean Hendrix, the dean of UTSA Libraries, said in UTSA Today. “Our hope is that many more people will not only have access to these wonderful recipes but also interact with them and experience the rich culture and history contained in the collection.”

The free downloads are a way for people to get a very in-depth look into Mexican food history.

The first of three volumes of the cookbooks focuses on desserts so you can learn how to make churros, chestnut flan, buñelos, and rice pudding. What better way to spend your quarantine than learning how to make some of these yummy desserts. We all love sweets, right?

If you want to get better with making your favorite desserts, check out this cookbook and make it happen.

There is nothing better than diving into your history and using food as your guide. Food is so intrinsically engrained in our DNAs and identities. We love the foods and sweets from our childhood because they hold a clue as to who we are and where we come from. This historical collection of recipes throughout history is the perfect way to make that happen.

READ: The Laziest Food Hacks In All Of The Land Would Send Your Abuela To The Chancla

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Instead Of Celebrating Her Quince, This Teen Donated It All To Help Victims Of Covid-19

Things That Matter

Instead Of Celebrating Her Quince, This Teen Donated It All To Help Victims Of Covid-19

JiromyXool / Facebook

Few days are as important or as celebrated as a teenager’s 15th birthday. So imagine the level of selflessness one must have to be able to say ‘no, I don’t want any of the celebration, I rather help out my community.’

Well, one teen in Merida, Mexico did just that this week when she told her family ‘thanks, but no thanks’ to her big quince and instead used the money that had been raised for her special day to help out her neighbors who have been impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic.

Her party was canceled thanks to Coronavirus, so she decided to help out those less fortunate.

In many countries across Latin America, the quinceañera is a huge milestone for teenagers. Beautiful dresses, visits from the entire family, big parties, and the best gifts are the norm at most quinces. But for 15-year-old Jiromy Xool Pech, instead of spending money on a lavish birthday celebration, she opted to use her party funds to help feed the needy.

Jiromy and her family had long planned her quinceañera – she had been looking forward to it for years. But with the pandemic hitting her community in Mérida particularly hard, the teen decided to put the party aside and use everything that had been invested in the ceremony to help her neighbors who have been impacted by the pandemic.

“Instead of partying, I prefer to give food to people, to help them with that,” Jiromy told El Universal. Jiromy not only asked to donate the money for her quince to the community, but she was also out there helping distribute the food to her neighbors.

Jiromy and her family weren’t alone in helping out the community either. Much of the food that was given out was prepared from by neighbors and local businesses that came to join Jiromy’s cause once word began to spread.

Unfortunately, many quinceañeras have been canceled or postponed thanks to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Credit: Diego Sanchez / Getty Images

One of Mexico City’s most famous markets for buying quince dresses – el Mercado Lagunilla – has been closed for three months. This ins’t just hating a major impact on dressmakers and salespeople, but it also means that young teens aren’t able to buy the dresses to celebrate their big day.

But not all is completely lost: there are those who have begun to return, like Ximena González, who came with her family to try on dresses. Her quince was scheduled for May 16, but the pandemic changed everything, and now they expect it to take place in November.

“I was scared and upset but I had to accept it. Some friends can no longer go because they are moving,” she told El Universal. She added, “I hope that when it is my party the infections have gone down and that everything is done as if nothing had happened.”

Mexico has been hit particularly hard by the pandemic, including Jiromy’s hometown of Merida.

Jiromy’s selfless act to help her community comes as Mexico continues to see record breaking numbers of cases. Tens of thousands are dying and even more are losing their jobs and being forced back into poverty.

As of August 6, Mexico has more than 456,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 49,698 people have died from the virus. In Jiromy’s state of Yucatan, there have been more than 10,000 cases of the virus and it’s had a huge impact on tourism, which is a major economic force in the state. Therefore, it makes sense that the 15-year-old thought it was important to use the money raised for her party to help those who are suffering financially.

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