BC’s Corner

BC Marks has been in the nutrition and health food industries in various capacities for over 40 years; including owning a health food store and a nutritional brokerage as well as being the only non-medical professional board member of the Arizona Holistic Medical Association. bcShe has taught and lectured extensively. BC holds education degrees from The Pennsylvania State University and Boston University.

Toyo Food/Toyo en comida oriental is located on Benito Juárez #2709, one block from the Malecon, and is open Monday to Friday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Your hosts were busy investigating and forgot to tell you about the large freezer to your right – filled with pot stickers, wraps and other items.

Check out Waldo’s: Benito Juárez #1802 or Av. Ejército Mexicano #998

Three more kitchen gadgets – no electricity required! Chop, chop…

BC also suggests the spiralizer is ideal for hash-brown type potatoes – use setting three or four, spiral away, then sauté in olive oil.

If you wish to do your raw research, these are the websites that BC mentioned:
healthypets.mercola.com dogfoodadvisor.com

The health benefits of homemade sauerkraut.
Here’s how BC makes it: 3 lbs of cabbage, cut into ribbons, a tablespoon of salt, then “mush” it – rub the salt in. Let it sit for 40 minutes, give it another quick mush. Pack into a glass jar,(3″ from the top) weigh it down (a baggie with water), top if off with cabbage leaves and leave in a cool, dry place for 3 – 9 days. Transfer to fridge – the sauerkraut can last easily 3 -4 months in the fridge.

BC shares three homemade tips. P.S. BC mentioned in the video about Himalayan pink salt
– it’s now at Mega too, “sal rosa del Himalaya” in the ‘gourmet’ section.

BC presents the benefits of dark chocolate and gives us a to-die-for dessert!

Sweet alternatives to sugar.

The hazards of artificial sweeteners

BC digs into oils – what’s good and what’s bad

To join BC’s winter workshop, please send her an e mail: bc@thenaturalpantry.com

Part 2 – reveals homemade sunscreen, remedies for bites and itches, plus an avocado facial!

Part 1 – natural moisturizers – from your fridge to your skin!

BC takes us on a tour of Mercado Orgánico/Mazatlan’s Farmers Market (Saturdays in Plaza Zaragoza from November until April, 8 a.m. to noon)

Just scroll down to find your BC article – in order of published date: “What do we do all day in Mazatlan?” – Part 2, Part 1, Shopping my way – fresh and frugal Part 3, Part 2, Part 1.

Part 2: Here’s what we do all day

Hold on everybody! This is where I reveal my personal calendar. I have to, because it’s the insight into what we as individuals provide each other in Mazatlan’s “Centro Historico.” As I write this column it’s late September, and I look at my calendar which has now been filled with the monthly and weekly activities through to June.

Each month I schedule a wine tasting group, two gourmet cooking groups, a play reading group, a book club, and the First Friday Art Walk.

The Mazatlan Wine Pour, is a group of about 20 people who want to learn more about wines, and meet in our home each month for blind tastings. After the wine tasting, we socialize with delicious food. Mazatlan has another monthly wine group as well, but it’s geared for those who want more of a casual experience.

The gourmet groups are wonderful. (I keep mentioning what a foodie I am.) We meet in one another’s homes once a month with assignments that can range from an ethnic food and or a special spice to local Mexican fare. And do we go to town! One of our members commented that on these evenings our kitchens become “the best restaurant in town.” It is a veritable feast of foods from people like me who love eating a variety of cuisines.

Our play reading group, founded by our good friend Ken Albanese, meets every six weeks. Ken chooses a script and we each take roles and read. It is an evening of creativity and we all get a kick out of channeling our inner actors. We enjoy the evening and refining our skills; especially seeing our improvement under Ken’s patience tutelage. We gave two performances last year which were well received by audiences. After an extensive search, Ken has found a home for his long time dream of the Mazatlan Film and Theater Group. It’s a lovely screening room with 50 theater seats located in our new art’s school. Cinematógrafo begins October 11 showing movies at 5 and 7:30 p.m. and in November our play reading sessions will be held there too. For the full schedule go to: www.mazact.com. Thank you Ken – this is a big plus for all of us. My poor calendar – I need more days!

First Friday Art Walks are a must. They begin at 3:00 and end at 8:00 p.m. There are 24 studios which open their doors to the public; what a treat it is to go from gallery to gallery and enjoy the fine works of some 50 painters, sculptors, print makers and jewelry designers. Now in its 5th year, art walk includes an international group of artists. There is a beautifully designed simple map to follow, and each month I try to visit four to six galleries. The art walks were a vision of resident artist and friend Glen Rogers. She has made this a “must not miss” and we are all very proud of her. (www.artwalkmazatlan.com)

The above are only the monthly activities that I participate in. Now we get down to some of the weekly scheduling. I am a Mazatlan Tourist Aide, fondly known as a “blue shirt”. This group was founded by Roger Culbertson, a realtor, and Tom Reaney, a travel agent, both of whom moved to Mazatlan many years ago. I pull on my blue volunteer T shirt ( I did have to tweak the style a bit) show my smiling face to tourists and direct them to tourist attractions, provide maps, and answer questions regarding our beautiful city. We have no commercial interest – we only want to promote Mazatlan and help tourists have a wonderful time. My time slot is every Thursday from 9 a.m. to 1p.m. I enjoy meeting people from literally all over the world and letting them know, despite what I consider media irresponsibility, that they will be safe in Mazatlan and can appreciate our lovely Colonial city on the ocean. The following website has background and a video on this group of about 40 volunteers. (www.mazatlantouristaide.com).

This year, every Monday, a small group will be honing our Spanish skills with a teacher who will surely have a challenge. Friday afternoons find me with from six to 12 women playing Mexican Train, a dominoes game, around a table in one of our homes eating trail mix, drinking iced tea (or wine) and laughing for about four hours. It is a time of friendship and “kibitzing” with people who are fun and light hearted and with whom I have a terrific afternoon. There are other Mexican Train groups for men and women, weekly bridge, scrabble, Mah Jongg (thanks Stella), knitting, belly dancing, bike riding, yoga, poker groups, pilates, zumba, technical and language groups . My friend Sharon Fannin teaches two weekly art classes. She can teach anyone to draw well and has proved it time and time again with both novices and more experienced people as well.

Aside from this – yes there is more – one can volunteer for groups such as our orphanages, the school for the blind, Amigos de los Animales, Projecto Animales de la Calle, Friends of Mexico, and Democrats Abroad. I have given lectures on nutrition and aging where the proceeds go to benefit Hospice Mazatlan. In August I looked at my calendar and discovered I had a couple of hours free-so now I am writing a monthly column called “BC”sNatural Pantry”, for the English print publication, M!

My editor, and the founder of Mazatlan Life, Sheila Madsen, has posted the events for 2011 Cultural Festival. Take a look at the video on the front page and check out the full listings; there are 18 events between October 20th and December 17th. My friends and I will attend most of these performances. What an exciting season of music, opera and dance we have to look forward to. I have to fit these into my schedule as well. Can I possibly also squeeze in haircuts, nail appointments and lunches with friends? You bet I can, and I will, and so will my friends- we don’t stop!

Now you know some of what we “do in Mazatlan all day.” I apologize if I have left anybody or any activity out of this article, but my head is spinning and my “dance card” is getting too full. Our son Mark, having seen how busy and happy Steve and I are, once observed that (and I paraphrase) retiring to an entirely different community and culture, opens your life to new adventures and is very exciting. Thank you Mark, Dad and I agree – we wouldn’t want it any other way.

Until the next time, I wish you health. And next time, you will see me on Mazatlan Life TV.

Part 1: Here’s what we do all day

My husband Steve and I have lived in Mazatlan’s Centro Historico for over seven years. When we first moved here we were asked many questions: Do you feel safe? How is medical care? Are you finding it easy to make friends? But the big one, the really big one, was and still is: What do you do there all day? It is a question asked with sincerity and concern. A question asked by people who really and truly care about us and do not want us to spend our retirement years bored and unhappy. It’s an interesting question which requires a thoughtful answer.

Where to begin. In my mind, this is a two part answer. The first part covers what the city has to offer and the second part is what our community has to offer. The community is comprised of foreigners, from north of the border, (NOB) and the local Mexicans, who are our friends and neighbors. As a preface, let me say that life is so very busy here that everyone will tell you that they must, at times, retreat to their homes and “take a break” from the interests and enjoyment provided. I am serious. This is a busy community and it can be mind boggling. I once showed a visiting friend my social calendar from the previous month and she said “you could not possibly have done all that last month and remained upright.” Well, I did, and so did most of my friends here … and we love it!

In part one I’ll share with you what our seaside city has to offer. The fact that Mazatlan has manufacturing backbone- coffee, shrimp and beer (and the soft industry, hospitality) – means that many of employees and owners of these businesses can also afford the arts, music and theater events.

We all partake in the marvelous choices; it’s inclusive, not exclusive to foreigners. Centro Historico is, in my opinion, Mazatlan’s happening community. We who live here have much to enjoy culturally and recreationally and we can walk to most events. We are fortunate to have a lovely plaza called the Plazuela Machado which is surrounded by restaurants that are open seven days a week and are both al fresco and indoors. The feeling here during the day is serene and enchanting. At night, when it is all lit up and musicians are performing outdoors at various restaurants, it is a very festive place to be. On weekend evenings, vendors surround the plazuela and there are art booths set up for children so parents can dine, listen to the performers, or shop, and know their kids are participating in supervised activities with other children. Connected to the plazuela is the Angela Peralta Theater, the music school and the art school.

Our cultural season, which starts in October, centers around the theater where, for very reasonable prices, we have almost eight full months of theater, symphony, opera and dance. Sometimes there are as many as three or four performances a week. The Angela Peralta Theater is a beautiful facility, dating back 137 years. It opened in 1881, fell into disrepair and re-opened, after a considerable and loving restoration, in 1992. It is a classic U-shaped ornate opera house with wonderful acoustics. During “the season” entertainment comes from Mexico, South America, Europe, Asia, the United States, and Canada. The Angela Peralta is utilized all year and we all try to keep abreast of who is performing next. We adore the “dinner theater” in the Plazuela Machado with our friends – dinner in the square, with a two minute walk to the theater. Concerts are also arranged at the Plazuela Republica in front of the main cathedral and along the Malecon (our approximately ten mile beach sidewalk/boardwalk).

There is always music in Mazatlan – all kinds, from tributes to John Lennon and Michael Jackson to sopranos and tenors honoring operas, to tango and flamenco dancing. Sometimes if the theater is sold out, a big screen is erected and chairs are arranged in the plazuela and the performances are projected. Much of the live music is free. For instance, every June Mazatlan hosts the “day of the music”, where 21 different bands have stations throughout Centro. Thousands of people spend the evening enjoying all the free musical groups who’ve “made the cut.”

There’s also a regular Thursday twilight dance at Zaragoza Park, often with free lessons – outdoors, under the stars – a well attended event. There is the yearly Motorcycle Week and of course, Carnaval, the third largest Mardi Gras in the world with many activities such as parades, concerts – a real blast. Streets are blocked off as is a section of the Malecon…it’s party time! While much of what Mazatlan provides is around Centro Historico, we also have state of the art movie theaters north of Centro. Although the films are not the latest, the cinemas all have stadium seating and provide 3-D, plus all the bells and whistles we NOBs are used to; like popcorn, snacks, coffee and sandwiches.

And then there are the beaches. And the restaurants along the beaches. And the beautiful views. And beach sunsets. We are blessed with long stretches of sand to walk on and water to swim in and food to eat along the way. There is nothing more lovely, in my mind, than cocktails at sunset followed by dinner with wonderful friends in such a setting. We have a peninsula called “Stone Island” or “Isla de Piedre”, that I will describe before I close this article. To reach Stone Island one must walk or drive to the ferry area and go across a small harbor on a small motorboat whose fleet goes back and forth all day.

It is, at most a three minute crossing, leading to a stretch of beach that claims to be more than 15 miles long. Unlike beaching it NOB, you do not have to take anything but towels and sunscreen. All else is provided by the many beach “palapa” restaurants along the shore. So here you spend your day – eating, drinking, swimming, lying on a chaise or hammock, reading, playing dominoes or cards with friends, walking … you get the picture. Steve and I try to go every week. We have our favorite restaurant, others have theirs, in which we “set up camp” for the day, enjoy delicious shrimp, fish and Mexican specialties, relax and love life. I know I have left some things out; this is only a partial answer to the question of what do you do there all day. Please look at the other topics on MazatlanLife, especially the arts and entertainment section. And, I might add, this is off-season when many people have left Mazatlan for cooler areas so what you will see now is less than what is available in season. In part two, I’ll open up the windows into my world; the soul of what we do, what really fulfills us, and what defines us as a close, vibrant community. Until then, I wish you health.

Part 3: Shopping my way -fresh and frugal

Bear with me everyone because here comes a moment of sentiment. While walking to the Pino Suarez mercado on this beautiful sunny day I was struck by a feeling of nostalgia and warmth for this wonderful Mexican city that so many of us from the ex-pats have adopted. The sense of community here in Mazatlan is something most of us have not experienced before. The mercado is only 2 ½ blocks from my home and I have already said hello or buenos dias to a dozen people. My day has begun on a very positive note…again! I mentioned in a previous article that I love food. I love to cook it, learn about it and its origins, shop for it and, of course eat it. I am a foodie in the truest sense of the word. The mercado is the perfect place for me and all the other (and there are many) true foodies who live in my area.

Today I am on my way to buy fruits, vegetables, nuts and more. Once again, follow me to some of my favorite food stalls as I prepare to fill my refrigerator and shelves with some good eats. As before, I will enter the mercado on Melchor Ocampo at the entrance closest to Aquiles Serdan. I walk past the fish and poultry area as and wave “hola” to Cecilia at Marlin Dona Maria whom you met in Part Two of this article. I continue to the third aisle on the right. Take a right and go to the second aisle. On your left on the corner is Fruiteria Portillo. So many businesses in Mazatlan are family owned and operated and this one is no exception. This family owns other stalls in the market and are always stocked well and so very pleasant to deal with. Today Alma, Flor, Francis, and Lorena are busily working as I approach. After many greetings I pull out my cloth bag and here I go! The rainbow of colorful produce in the stall today is beautiful. I have to remember that I am carrying home whatever I buy or I will over do it. I am buying romaine lettuce, cucumbers, cilantro, tomatoes, red peppers, poblanos, jicama and celery. Lorena pulls off six very large celery stalks,which I have requested, from the main head. I love the fact that I can choose as many stalks as I want and not have to buy the whole head. I buy cilantro by the bunch; very few things are packaged in the mercado which is a real plus for the shopper and everything is weighed and priced by the kilo. My produce is bagged and paid for, a proper adios is said and I am on my way. Taking a left next to Fruiteria Portillo I see Especias Lisbette on the right and Especias de Amigo on the left.

Both carry a wide variety of dried fruits , nuts, seeds and grains all in bulk so you can order just the amounts you need. I am making trail mix later so I purchase almonds, cashews, peanuts, dried raisins, cranberries, bananas and pineapple. I also need oats, lentils, flax seed and chia seed. As you can see I am a health food foodie! Saying adios to Clara at Especias El Amigo I continue down the aisle, still walking south, to the last aisle on the right. For those of you who prefer the convenience of packaged fruits and nuts the stall on the right south corner, Frutas & Especias Aguilar is for you.

The prices seem to be in line with the stalls that sell in bulk. Take a right and you are facing a fairly large health food store called Centro Botanica-GPNA. I need some aloe vera juice and purchase it here. I also love to browse, having been in the health food business for years (and years and years!).This area is disappointing because the range of supplements in Mexico is quite limited compared to what Canadians and Americans are used to. However, I have seen many positive changes and additions in seven years which is one of the reasons I enjoy spending time in Centro Botanica. Some of the medicinal herbs that are available and familiar to me are: Echinacea which is used to fight colds and flu, kava kava as a relaxant and sleep aid, valerian for pain relief and as a sleep aid, and aloe vera used for stomach ulcers, burn relief, indigestion and so much more. There is also a juice made from both aloe and nopal, a local Mazatlan cactus, which is recommended for arthritis aid and digestion. There are several loose dried herbs clearly labeled with medicinal suggestions – I really appreciate that as the powers that be have banned it up north. Aside from supplements and dried medicinal herbs they have a nice line of hair and skin care products. Be sure when you examine they are as pure as possible, containing no artificial ingredients such as colorings or mineral oil- which tends to dry skin by leaching out nutrients. My arms are breaking! My kitchen is in need of my cooking! I am looking forward to many hellos and buenas tardes (it is now afternoon) on my walk home. I hope you have enjoyed and gained some good tips from all 3 parts of “Shopping my way-fresh and frugal.” It was truly fun to write. There are so many interesting facets in our community and I will do my best to keep the readers of MazatlanLife interested and informed. Until then, happy shopping and consuming. I wish you health.

Part 2: Shopping my way – fresh and frugal

I have lived in Mazatlan’s Centro Historico for seven years and I still feel that going to our main market, Mercado Pino Suarez, is an event. It is of great interest to note that the 111 year old structure is the only one of its kind in Mexico, and was built with the same structural techniques utilized in the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France. With stalls of colorful and beautiful fruits and vegetables, cheeses, seafood, spices, clothing, household items and souvenirs I am like the proverbial “kid in a candy shop!”

I love the hustle and bustle of the many people shopping and meeting and greeting friends. I am reminded of the famous Reading Terminal Market in downtown Philadelphia which had the same magical feeling for me when I was growing up. Time marches on, and here in Mazatlan I am a regular in this city’s market; carefully choosing produce, and seafood as my family did in Philly way back when. There are many stalls to select from and once you have found your winners it’s very important to get to know the vendors. Shopping in this bustling maze can be overwhelming, but don’t panic! I am going to introduce you to some of my current favorites and their locations. It’s easy for me now, but in the beginning it was a challenge; the aisles are not marked, there is no logical pattern, and the mercado is huge. It’s a city block square running from Melchor Ocampo on the north, Aquiles Serdan on the east, Leandro Valle on the south and Benito Juarez on the west. Follow me, and we will go shopping in this treasure we call the mercado. I want to share with you my four favorites of the moment.

1.) I enter the market at the eastern most entrance on Melchor Ocampo, nearest to Aquiles Serdan. Take an immediate right turn and there will be chicken stalls on the right. The second stall is called Polleria Meche and is run by Mercedes and her family. Good, plump, fresh chicken cut up or whole, and she’ll prep it any way you like it.

2.) Turn around and go toward the entrance you came in and you will see a variety of fresh seafood vendors. I like them all. At the very end of the aisle and facing you is Pescaderia Saucedo run by Adriana who has a very small stall in comparison to the others. She is a favorite because she will take the time to tell you how to prepare her seafood. She seems very proud of her business.

3.) If you start at our original entrance and go forward past the seafood aisle, you’ll see a small stall on your left called Marlin Dona Maria. Cecilia carries wonderful smoked marlin and tuna. Sometimes when there is no marlin available, vendors may not tell you and sell you smoked tuna instead. Cecilia will tell you the truth whenever asked. There is a difference in price and taste. Both are delicious – marlin is less expensive. If you are not familiar with these smoked fish be sure to try them.

4.) Go down two aisles on the right and take a right at the second one. Down quite a bit and on the left is Cremeria Higienica. Anna Maria carries wonderfully fresh cheeses, eggs, salsas and more. You can have her cut the cheeses to your size preference from the large wheels on display. Try the fresh salsas, especially the salsa verde. If you have not made our mercado part of your shopping habit, please give it a try. You will not only save money when compared to our supermarkets you will become part of the Mazatlan adventure that makes this community so unique. My next article will reveal more of my secret stalls such as my favorite nuts, spices and veggies. Until then, happy shopping and consuming. I wish you health.

Part 1: Shopping my way – fresh and frugal

On any given day in Mazatlan’s Centro Historico there is a magical busyness in the area of our main mercado. People are scurrying about buying, among other things, fresh produce for their homes and restaurants-a veritable beehive of activity. I love it! I love food: shopping for it, preparing it, serving it and eating it.

I am starting BC’s Corner with those food items nearest and dearest to my heart. They are the most healthy foods that we consume – fruits, vegetables, seeds nuts, and spices. Come with me as I shop in Centro Historico for the freshest foods at the best values in our town. My first stop, always, is Alicia’s which is a fruiteria located on Angles Flores just east Aquiles Serdan. I know to be there between 8:00 and 10:30 am for the best selections. Alicia’s is a busy, busy shop and is a favorite of neighborhood folks. It is important to note that upon checking out, electronic scales are used to weigh everything and an itemized receipt is given to all. I have often taken my receipts to Mazatlan’s supermarkets to compare prices. Alicia’s never disappoints.

My trip to Alicia’s this week cost me $120. In Sorianna, where I compared prices an hour later, it would have cost me over $300. An amazing difference. Savings being noted, there are many reasons I enjoy my treks to Alicia’s. Much of the produce is locally grown. I like supporting local growers and businesses. These growers don’t need to cater to the big supermarkets, which means produce is not “presentation perfect.” The gives the consumer a real advantage, because some items, such as cucumbers, are not waxed or oiled, and are entirely edible. Since much of the nutrition is in the skins that is important to me. Vegetables are sometimes oddly shaped, just like you may pull out of your own garden. It’s sometimes a bit humorous. Beets come with the beet green tops attached, strawberries, nuts, seeds and more are packed on the premises. You are able to pick your own eggs and size them as you wish. Alicia’s carries a wide variety of produce and like any other small operation it is not always consistent, but there is always a wide variety.

Last week’s specials were on cukes, carrots, limes and tomatoes. I always take advantage of the specials. Onward shoppers to the municipal mercado, El Mercado Pino Suarez. After Alicia’s I go to the mercado to fill in whatever was not available at Alicia’s on any given day. Today I needed Romaine lettuce, parsley and some dried fruit. Most of the booths are similar in variety and pricing. My advice is to pick one or two favorites and get to know the vendors. Often there are no prices listed and no receipts given, so you are truly at the mercy of the vendor. Pricing is usually higher than Alicia’s, but still way lower than at the major supermarkets. The great variety of foods is amazing and I will cover all my secret stalls in – Part 2: Shopping my way – fresh and frugal.

Until then, happy shopping and consuming. I wish you health!