Recommended: Myanmar (Burma) Photography Trip with SOU Workshops

Text: Julie Schwietert Collazo
Photo: Selu Vega

One of the scenes you might see in Myanmar

One of the scenes you might see in Myanmar.

One of the many perks of my job as a freelance writer is that I’ve been able to travel all around the world and meet some really interesting people, many of whom have become friends. One of these people is Selu Vega, a photographer from Isla de La Palma, one of the Canary Islands. From the moment I met Selu, I knew we’d be pals. He’s a friendly, happy, funny guy, the kind of person you just feel better being around.

Selu is teaming up with another photographer, Arturo Rodriguez, a documentary photographer and winner of World Press Photo, to lead a photography trip to Myanmar (aka Burma) this December. The 11-day trip promises to be incredible in every way; Selu and Arturo have thought through every logistical detail and will be facilitating the on-the-ground workshop in English and Spanish.

All of the details about the trip, along with registration information, can be found on this page.

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Now on Bookshelves: Charcutería: The Soul of Spain

Text: Julie Schwietert Collazo
Photo: Courtesy of Artisan Books

I read cookbooks the way most people read novels.

The problem with this is that most cookbooks are too big and bulky to toss in my backpack for casual subway reading or in my carry-on to get me through a long flight.

Too meaty for a carry-on.

Too meaty for a carry-on.

I received Jeffrey Weiss’ Charcutería: The Soul of Spain the day before our recent Utah trip and I was so bummed I couldn’t haul it along with me.

When I got home, though, the shiny, meaty book was waiting for me and I jumped right in; it was an invaluable resource to consult as I worked on an article about Spanish hams for The Latin Kitchen.

That article was published earlier this week in English on TLK and in Spanish on Francisco’s blog, LatinListUSA. Even if you don’t read Spanish, I hope you’ll check that one out, too, as it has some delectable photos from the US and Spain.

And I hope you’ll check out Weiss’ book as well. It’s excellent, not only because of what you’ll learn about hams and chorizos and other types of charcuterie, but because of all you’ll learn about Spanish culture. Weiss’ enthusiasm for both subjects is unrestrained, and the book is an excellent addition to a cook’s, food lover’s, or traveler’s library.

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From the Kitchen: Homemade Coconut Walnut Affogato

Text: Julie Schwietert Collazo
Photo: Breville USA (via Flickr Creative Commons)
If there’s an after-dinner treat better than affogato, that wonderful Italian creation that blends two of life’s greatest pleasures–coffee and ice cream–I don’t really know what it is. It’s a simple concoction: you place a scoop of ice cream or gelato (usually vanilla) in an espresso cup and pour hot espresso over the top. At my favorite place for affogato, L’Arte del Gelato, the lily is gilded with a dollop of fresh whipped cream and dark chocolate shavings.

Simple, delicious affogato. (Photo by Breville USA).

Simple, delicious affogato. (Photo by Breville USA).

As easy as it is to make and as satisfying as it is, I rarely think, “Oh, let’s make an affogato.” For some reason, it never occurs to me. But over the weekend, I made an ice cream that was a little too sweet for my taste, and while I was waiting for the espresso to brew after dinner, I stood with my head in the freezer, wondering what to do with the ice cream when it occurred to me: affogato.

If you want to make the whole sweet treat from scratch (it’s not hard!), here are the directions. I took a basic vanilla ice cream recipe and adapted it for the fresh coconut and preserved walnuts. You can trade those ingredients out for nearly any other combination that suits you. As for the ice cream machine, we have a Cuisinart Ice-25, an automatic machine. I don’t think Cuisinart makes this model anymore, but it has a comparable line of automatic ice cream and gelato machines and this recipe will work just fine for them, too. Be sure, if your machine requires it, to freeze the bowl of the ice cream maker for at least 24 hours (48 or longer are even better) before churning.

Coconut and Preserved Walnut Ice Cream
Two quarts

-2 cups of milk
-2 cups of heavy cream
-3/4 cup of sugar (The original recipe calls for 1 cup, but I find it’s too sweet, especially if you’re adding in sweet ingredients, so adjust your measurements according to the other ingredients and your own taste).
-1/2 teaspoon of salt
-1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
-1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon extract
-1/2 cup of fresh, shredded coconut
-1/4 to 1/2 cup of grated preserved walnuts (Note: We happened to find a jar of preserved walnuts for sale at a winery on Long Island last fall. We’ve experimented with them in all sorts of recipes, from banana bread to cocktails, and haven’t been disappointed yet. You can order them online directly from Harvest Song, the producer.)

-Put the milk, cream, sugar, salt, and extracts in a mixing bowl and stir well until the sugar has dissolved.

-Pour the mixture into your ice cream maker and churn for about 25 minutes. During the last five minutes of churning, add the shredded coconut and the preserved walnuts.

-Remove the ice cream from the churn and put in a freezer-safe container; give it an hour or so to harden a bit.

-Take an espresso cup and place a scoop of the ice cream inside it.
-Pour freshly made espresso over the ice cream.
-Top, if desired, with whipped cream and freshly shaved chocolate or nutmeg.
-Serve right away.

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Now in Hilton Head, SC: Amiri Geuka Farris’ “Heart of the Lowcountry”

Text & Photo:
Julie Schwietert Collazo
Last week, Francisco and I were on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina on an assignment that I am dying to tell you about… but I can’t.

Not until December, at least.

We needed time–much more time–than we had to see all the places we wanted to see and talk to all the people we wanted to talk to… not to mention make it out to the beach (which did not happen). Fortunately, though, we were lucky enough to catch Amiri Geuka Farris’ exhibit “Heart of the Lowcountry,” which opened on the day of our visit to the island’s Coastal Discovery Museum.

A few of the works in Amiri Geuka Farris' exhibit, "Heart of the Lowcountry," currently on show at Hilton Head's Coastal

A few of the works in Amiri Geuka Farris’ exhibit, “Heart of the Lowcountry,” currently on show at Hilton Head’s Coastal Discovery Museum.

Farris is a native of Florida, but since moving to nearby Bluffton, South Carolina, his work has been exploring and conveying aspects of Gullah-Geechee culture in colorful, large-format paintings, exemplified by the pieces in this show. Far from being depressing images of slaves toiling in cotton fields, these paintings celebrate the character and confidence of the Gullah-Geechee people, the coastal south’s residents who trace their lineage back to West Africa.

The exhibit, which runs through August, is well-worth a visit if you’re in the area.

And stay tuned… perhaps you’ll see Farris in a certain high profile magazine this winter!

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Now in New York: “Under the Same Sun: Art from Latin America Today” at Guggenheim

Text & Photo:
Julie Schwietert Collazo
It had been ages–probably more than a decade–since I’d been to the Guggenheim for a show, and once I left the museum after seeing “Under the Same Sun: Art from Latin America Today” yesterday, I remembered why: I have never experienced art in a place that is less suited for it than the Guggenheim.

But first, let’s talk about the propósito of “Under the Same Sun,” which opened last week and runs through October 1 before it moves on to Brazil and Mexico.

The show, curated by Pablo León de la Barra, is important to the extent that it attempts to introduce viewers to contemporary Latin American art. On its face, that effort seems absurd: Latin America is so vast, both territorially and culturally, that its art is similarly diverse; efforts to gather it together thematically may be fruitless. Holland Cotter, writing about the show for The New York Times is a bit more pointed in this review, which is not off the mark one jot.

And yet… the problem here is not so much the work the curator has selected for “Under the Same Sun,” nor the admittedly predictable categories into which he has organized the pieces– “The Tropical,” “Conceptualism,” “Political Activism,” “Abstraction,” Emancipation/Participation,” and “Modernities”– but the setting in which they are presented. Spread out over two floors and one film room, the show sounds ambitious in size, but there are only 50 works total. The installation of the pieces over such a seemingly large portion of the museum is misleading, then; the exhibit itself is not large. The space is small. It is also, for the most part, cramped and uncomfortable, with little, if any, intuitive sense of where the viewer should be going if he or she wants to see the entire show.

Having seen several of these works in other settings, it’s not the art that disappoints, but the context in which it’s being seen. Tania Bruguera’s video “Tatlin’s Whisper #6″ needs more sound (or a set of headphones), especially since it’s in the same room as a mobile made of cymbals, which viewers are invited to strike at their leisure. And Regina Jose Galindo’s powerful, provocative work, which I first saw at the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo at UNAM in Mexico City several years ago, can really only achieve its maximum impact in a space that is larger.

Still shot from one of Regina José Galindo's works, which I first saw in Mexico City.

Still shot from one of Regina José Galindo’s works, which I first saw in Mexico City.

The argument can be made, of course, that seeing these works in this setting compared to the spacious halls of, say, the MUAC, is neither better nor worse, but simply different. That argument can be extended by saying that the experience gives those of us already familiar with these works a better sense of how they can incite a broader register of emotions. Neither argument would be false. That being said, it’s a shame that an idea so grand in scope fails to deliver simply because the works selected for this space don’t seem to fit comfortably within it. The goal of introducing viewers to contemporary Latin American art isn’t fully met in this show, which is too bad, since so many seminal pieces are included in it.

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