¡Oye! A LAtina perspective on food, fashion, familia and art.

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Chicana in the O.C.

By Laura E. Alvarez


 A Christmas pepper discovered in the garden Sunday morning!  A sign that this was going to be a particularly Mexican trip to the O.C.


 We traveled behind the orange curtain to visit  my dad and go with him to order tamales for Christmas Eve.


 El Toro Bravo has it all.  Tamales, good meats, tortilleria (tortilla factory), a small market and a great place to get masa for your tamales.


 Waiting in line to order, you are faced with a tempting embarrassment of riches – a pile of chile rellenos.  Chile rellenos are actually really fun to make.  It’s all about the roasting.  They catch fire on the open flame sometimes!  My mom used to make them for birthdays.


Here’s where I slip in the Clothes Story:  I decided to go for neon under Victorian like slip blouse with an embroidered folky purse.  What does it MEAN?  What made me wear this?  I have no idea.  Wait, now I have an idea:  Romantic meets an 80’s OC adolescence meets summers spent in my mother’s hometown in Tamaulipas.  Remember Laura Ashley and Wham U.K.?  Nothing like PTSD of the Orange County fashion.   So fun.


Requisite artsy photo means we are making art.

What follows is more art.  See?  It’s bigger…





 And we’re back! On the way to pick up my dad we picked up a load of tasty Mexican sweet bread from a very nice panaderìa, where we didn’t take any photos because it’s not my dad’s “favorite place”, plus they didn’t have any maranitos (little pigs) – the definition of pan dulce for him.  So we went to Gloria’s next to El Toro Bravo and he got his wish – five maranitos.  Por fin, he was satisfied.  May I suggest a cup of Cuban coffee and a little pan dulce with toda la familia around 11am on a Sunday?  Yes?


And what is a trip to Mexicana O.C. without visiting the Diego Sepulveda House?  In the center photo you see my dad saying to Evan, “I remember coming here to visit every Sunday.”… back when his sister, Francis lived in the house with her family in the 1940’s.  Now it’s a museum surrounded by a park.  I remember coming here on a school field trip and telling the other kids my aunt used to live there.

Special thanks to Evan Hartzell for taking all the art-fotos.


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by Laura E. Alvarez


Oye! I got to meet with my favorite Chicana poet, Gloria Enedina Alvarez this week.  We collaborated on a California Artist Residency TWENTY YEARS AGO.  I know.  What? Was I 12 or something?  No, but I was kinda fresh outta college, and I had to learn to drive just to do the residency.  Yes, I learned to drive going from Santa Monica to East L.A. in the most stolen car of that year – a 1983 Oldsmobile Delta 88, leather top.  People liked to turn them into low riders.  It was in mint condition, and random old guys were always trying to buy it off me.  But I digress…

Gloria!  She is as youthful, funny, and life-enjoying as the last time I saw her so many years ago.  Here, we pose in front of a French revolution mural in Atwater.  So funny, us being revolutionary Chicana artists and trying to be as French as possible as we get older.  (Yes, that is a marc by Marc Jacobs lace blouse I am wearing.)

God, cars and clothes.  I digress again.

Here is a sprinkling of Gloria Enedina Alvarez mind blowing granules of gold from yesterday:

1)  Her identity is poet.  

That, alone is enough.  I mean, come on.  In my next life my identity will be poet just because it’s so… solid, yet mysterious.  I will reside in a Scottish castle and write poetry.  I will wear electric blue hand knit ponchos, sip Earl Grey, and write about the mist and mi corazòn.

2)  She WANTS to reside in a Scottish castle and write poetry.

That’s where I got the idea.  Duh.

3)  The Repatriation Thingy

In 1932 her dad was just a three year old in Cheyenne, Wyoming (where he was BORN) and his whole family was rounded up and sent “back” to Mexico.  Gloria’s grandfather walked his cattle from Wyoming all the way back to where his family lived in Mexico.  (Can you see my tear stains blotting out these words?  Where’s the app for that?) When Gloria’s dad came back to the U.S. as an adult the government gave him a hard time for being a “draft dodger”. Seriously. This story came out of a collaboration with artist, Christina Fernandez.  Read more about Repatriation here.

4)  Writing Circles About Food

Lately, she gets together with other women and they write poetry about food.  She wants to make an anthology about it.  This sounds so cool. I want to go to one, and I can’t wait to read it.  I’m already hungry.  For now you can check out her work in books such as this.

5)  Ceremonia heals.

Sweat lodges. Herbs.  It’s all true.  I thought you had to go all the way to Taos to do that stuff, but apparently they have sweat lodges here, too.  I’m not going to get into it, but that story blew my mind.

6)  She made some mention of a play or opera she wrote… Paris?

Oh my goodness.  It just gets better.  Peter Sellars directed a couple.  Esa Pekka conducted one.  Los Angeles Philharmonic.  Etc., etc.  Read the full deal here.  Impressive.

7)  Nopales growing guerilla gardening poets like Ari Robles are the kind of magical people that populate her life.

Enough said. I am hooked on all things Gloria.

8)  Eyes are on her last conquest in her goal towards total optimum health domination… SLEEP.

Gotan Project, and Nova Lima… It’s kind of their fault she doesn’t get enough sleep, really. They “call” her from afar and beg her to come dance to their South American rythms. That and something about just loving the night. Artists don’t own cows. I’ve never heard of one, at least.

9)  Spanglish is king.

We didn’t talk about this, but since our get-together I appreciate how much she appreciates this. The beautiful mix of words that can’t be really translated in one language or the other is splendarious (a word made up by one of my favorite poets who inspired the Rey part of Simone Rey). Really. This is just natch for her writing and mine and even more so for the way Gloria talks. I LOVE IT.

10) Here’s what I’m talking about…


An offering

of starbursts

releases us

to receive each other

for ourselves

to know

it is the spirit

which draws us near

the Embrace of the infinite

that pulls and pulses

in each of us

The Flame

an endless flight

Una ofrenda

de nebula

nos libera

a recibirnos

para nosotros


el espiritu


el Abrazo del infinito

tira y pulsa

en cada quien

La Llama

un vuelo sin fin

by Gloria Enedina Alvarez