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Carlos Fuenmayor Carlos
Fuenmayor

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I was reading an article in the NY Times about biblio-burros, donkeys that carry a library through the Columbian jungle. Luis Soriano is the teacher who has been bringing education and hope through the books he shepperds with his five trusty burros for the last 10 years.

Luis believes that doing so he is helping to improve the lives of people who do not have the chance to go to school in one of the most impoverished region in Colombia.

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Foto: Andrea Moreno / EL TIEMPO
He started out with 70 books and has grow into a traveling library of nearly 5,000 books.
This began as a necessity,” Soriano told the NY Times, “and then it became an obligation, and after that a custom. Now, it’s an institution.

The most admirable and impressive thing he does is to travel without any escort in one of Colombia’s most volatile regions. On the battlefied are Colombian national army, numerous paramilitary groups and FARC, the Spanish acronym for the Columbian Revolutionary Armed Forces.

In this environment, Soriano has been robbed, and because he didn’t have any money (all he carries is books], the theives tied him to a tree and left him there for several days, but he says nothing will stop him from doing this work.

He’s married with three children, He and his wife have open a little restaurant, so they could make ends meet and to help to buy more books. They don’t get any help from the local or national government.

Luis Sorriano you are my hero.

I just want to leave you with this quote from Jacques Cousteau, which comes to mind when thinking of Sorriano.

If we were logical, the future would be bleak indeed. But we are more that logical. We are human beings, and we have faith, and we have hope

Yours honoring an exceptional hero

Carlos

Like food, peliculas are an entrance into understanding a culture. Naturally, as part of how I celebrate Latino culture through food, I’m excited about today’s opening of the 6th annual Toronto International Latin Film Festival, at the Royal Theater on College Street.

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With films showing the diaspora of the Spanish language, the festival reveals an unlikely integration of Latin influence on many seemingly disparate cultures. Most interesting is Zhao, a film directed by Susi Gozalvo, about a young Spanish woman of Chinese origin, struggling between the love of her life and the compromise to the country where she was born. Another film is My Mexican Shiva, a Jewish-Mexican comedy on death and culture.

The world is getting to know a new generation of award-winning Hispanic filmmakers like Maria Novaro, Alejandro Gonzalez Irarritu, Marcelo Piñeyro, Luis Puenzo.

Thanks to festival organizers Raul Galvez and Kim Mckenzie-Galvez for bringing a little of our roots to us through film.

The Galves hosted a launch bash at the Drake on Wednesday night, featuring jamon serrano courtesy of Michael Tkaczuk from Serrano Imports.

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Slicing jamon is a unique skill, and called in to do the honors was Jose Luis Atristain, who happens to be from the Spanish consulate.

Yours celebrating Latin American film in Toronto
Carlos

The launch of this year’s award ceremonies for the Ten Most Influential Hispanic Canadians kicked off last week at the Toronto Stock Exchange. The awards are the brainchild of Mauricio Ospina, champion of our Latino businesses and entrepreneurs, creator of the online magazine Hispanic Business

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With Ospina: champion of Latino accomplishment in Canada

It’s time to identify and properly recognize our role models, Ospina says. The fact is that there are more than 900,000 Hispanics in Canada. We are five years younger than other immigrant groups, and we are more likely to be university educated than other Canadians. Most of us live in the GTA, and more than 70 per cent landed here in the last two decades.

The November 18th awards dinner is like a dream come true for me. Seeing all these accomplished Latinos, celebrating the contributions they made in our adopted country.

This year, 600 attendees will vote for their choice of the top 10 from a shortlist of 20, which were selected by a distinguished panel of journalists and executives from the CBC, the Toronto Star, the Globe and Mail, Canadian Business Magazine, the Hispanic Press Association of Canada, the Canadian Council of the Americas.

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With Dr Zuniga-Pflucker and his wife

These are last year’s winners:

ELVIRA SANCHEZ DE MALICKI is founder of the Canadian Hispanic Congress, which has united Hispanics from 22 different countries, with over 250 member organizations to lobby government on such issues as persuading Statistics Canada to amend census gathering data to better reflect the true Hispanic profile. Ms Sanchez de Malicki has been a nightly news anchor for CFMT-TV and an independent producer of the national TV program Hispanos en Canada.

LUZ  BASCUAN has a teaching degree from the University of Chile and an MA from University of Toronto. As a public school trustee for the Toronto Board of Education for three consecutive periods, Ms. Bascuan became the first Latin American elected to public office in Canada. Since 1998, she has been the Education Advocate of the Catholic Children’s Aid Society of Toronto and created Escuela Pioneros de la Paz for teaching conflict resolution and social skills to children and youth within the context of the Latin American culture.

LITA GONZALEZ-DICKEY has been the Spanish Community Relations Officer of the Toronto Catholic District School Board for nearly 30 years. She has been instrumental in placing thousands of Hispanic children into schools, including those from many undocumented and refugee families. Ms Gonzalez-Dickey created Centro Bienvenidos, the board Spanish Resource Centre from where she helps children with their homework and provides opportunities for foreign trained teachers to get familiarized with the school system and obtain Canadian experience.

MARIA CARMEN ROMERO was granted a fellowship by the Canada Council for Arts and Humanities to pursue a Ph.D. at the University of Toronto. Her postdoctoral research at York University analyzed the positive effects of bilingualism in the early development of literacy. A teacher and principal for 28 years, Dr. Romero worked in the Canadian Centre for the Prevention and Treatment of Torture with refugees from all over the world. She has done similar work in Guatemala with the Canadian Central American Relief Effort. She initiated the opening of 17 educational programs in both the Toronto District and Catholic District School Boards.

JUAN CARLOS ZUNIGA-PFLUCKER is a professor of immunology at the University of Toronto. He recently discovered how to grow T cells in a laboratory using embryonic stem cells. T cells are the foundation of the immune system, which HIV, chemotherapy and radiation destroy. Dr. Zuniiga-Pflucker work attempts to answer one of the fundamental questions in the field: How certain cells respond to key molecular signals, making them develop into disease-fighting T cells.

JUAN CARRANZA, LLB, is the first Central American called to the Law Society of Upper Canada, with a law degree from Osgoode Hall and an MBA from Queen’s University. He is founder Carranza Barristers & Solicitors, Toronto’s largest ethnic law firm, serving clients in over ten languages, including extensive probono work by he and his firm. In 2000, Juan received the prestigious Community Service award from the Law Society of Upper Canada and was instrumental in obtaining from the CRTC Canada’s first Spanish-language radio station in 2003.

MARCO A. GUZMAN before attending St Francis Xavier University, where he was later awarded an LL.D., Mr Guzman he created Voluntarios en Accion in his native Bolivia, an organization with a 36-year record of such humanitarian work as providing thousands of school desks for children. For the last 10 years, he as been Executive Director of Frontiers Foundation Inc. He has placed thousands of national and international volunteers into partnership with aboriginal Canadian hosts and co-workers in hands-on affordable housing and education projects, such as Project Amik is a 75 -unit facility in east Toronto, with half the suites designated for aboriginal residence and 14 of the total space reserved for handicapped tenants.

ALEX JADAD.
MD is one of the few doctors in the world with a doctorate in knowledge synthesis, which he received from Oxford University. In 2000 he joined the University of Toronto and founded the Centre for Global eHealth Innovation. In 2001 and 2002, he was featured by Time Magazine as one of the new Canadians who will shape Canada in the 21st century.

ESTEBAN LASSO is an international development professional with 14 years experience in social development projects, working extensively in the rural and child development sector with organizations such as Christian Children’s Fund, Catholic Relief Services and UNICEF. Since 2001, Mr Lasso has been dedicated to improving the availability of quality medical treatment and care for children and adults with left clip and palate, and related cranion-facial disorders through the nonprofit organization Transforming Faces Worldwide.

FEDERICO ALLODI, MD is recognized internationally as a pioneer, expert and activist in the field of mental health for immigrants, refugees, and torture victims. He founded the first specialized centre for the treatment of torture survivors and has participated in numerous international campaigns (many in Latin America) to advocate for health coverage for the poor.

Yours in proudly celebrating the accomplishments of Hispanics in Canada,

Carlos
Happy Hispanic Heritage month…

Chayote was a major part of what I decided to serve at Feast of Fields this year. It’s a relatively unknown vegetable if you’re not Latino, Caribbean or an adventurous explorer of world foods.

Finding organic chayote was a challenge, but luckily Whole Foods had some that was naturally grown, which means it wont be long before certified organic is available, too.

My offering on that drizzly day, which beautifully turned into a gorgeous sunny day at Everdale farm, just east of Georgetown it“ was a chayote guiso [Spanish for stew] with boniato [white sweet potato], topped off by organic chorizo from The Healthy Butcher.

it was great to see people enjoying the food, particularly the groovy organic vessel I designed to carry the guiso to avoid plastic or unnecessary paper.

We cut squares of plantain leaf, wrapped them into the shape of a cup and then pierced them with small, sturdy wooden skewers from Chinatown, all of it beautiful compost.

I don’t mind saying I’m proud of that, too.

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The crew, left to right: Annick le Goaix, Andrew Pemas, Stephanie Ortenzi. Those are the famous plantain cups in front of Annick. Great work guys. Thanks.

A high note for me was meeting Linda Crago and her riveting basket of colourful organic heirloom tomatillos: pink, purple, yellow and green. Beautiful.
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Who knew you could get them so close to home? This opens things up for me: doing Latino locally. Linda says tomatillos have been grown in Ontario for over 10 years. Who knew?
And guess what else she grows [although there wasn’t enough hot weather this year]? Chayote!

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Linda Crago with some of her beautiful heirloom vegetables
My next move is clear: spread the word about how easy it is to cook these beautiful these vegetables, but more importantly, how delicious. Or should I say, Sabrotito!

On another note; it was great seeing Michael Stadtlander and Mike Dixon promoting the Canadian Chef’s Congress coming up this weekend. Guess who’s going?
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Yours in good food from 2008 Feast of Fields
Carlos

Test the Nation on the CBC

When I got a call back in April to participate in a CBC TV show test the nation , I had no idea I would be on a sound stage with celebrity guests; Jully Black. Kari Matchett, Mitsou, Ed Robertson, Emanuel Sandhu and Tommy Chong and our host Wendy Mesley and Brent Bambury. Which will air this coming Sunday, September 7 at 8 pm.
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With Wendey Mesley[center] Rosa Maria Tortorici [right]
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Jully Black our team coach

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With Ed Robertson [center] Rosa Maria Tortorici [right]

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The New Canadians team

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In the CBC ustudio

Having to defend my honour by answering questions about Canada.I’m pretty passionate about my citizenship, and I’m pretty knowledgeable on the subject, so I was up for the challenge.As well my other thirty three teammates from our New Canadians Team.

We were on a fight of knowledge about our nation against 5 stronger teams; Canadian Forces, Reach for the Toppers, Tours Guides, Weathercasters and the American Canadians.

Wanna know who won?Tune in on Sunday, September 7 at 8 pm.
Yours at the CBC
Carlos

Our Daily Bread

Growing up in Venezuela to a Colombian mother, I had the best of both cultures. We spent a lot of time in Colombia with my grandparents, and the one thing common to the cuisines of both countries, and at the heart of both cultures, is the arepa, the arepa our daily bread.

To call it a corn bread — which it is because the main ingredient is white cornmeal — is to tell only half the story.

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Arepa de cazon: stuffed with fish

Arepas are made by mixing Harina PAN, the Venezuelan brand of special cornmeal [also called masarepa] with warm water, salt and oil. You make soft dough that you turn into patties and then bake, fry or grill.

These are the traditional ingredients, but I like to add butter, milk and eggs, which gives them some air, makes them fluffier and, wow, taste so good.

Like a good bun, its made to carry good stuff inside. You create a pocket in the arepa for whatever you dream up [some ideas to follow] by cutting along one side about 180 degrees, sort of like a pita that is going to become a falafel sandwich.

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On offer: reina pepiada, chicken, avocado, red onion, cummin, coriander

Someone else who is crazy about arepas, in a deep-in-the-heart, home-sick kind of way, is Eduardo Lee, the designer responsible for Torito’s cool look. Eduardo is Venezuelan, and out of the blue, he called one day to ask if I would like to get involved in a restaurant project. Guess what? He wants to open an Arepa Cafe, which is clearly right up my alley.

Our first plan of action was to put on an Arepa Night, very likely Toronto’s first and only for now. We needed to test our ideas for the arepa itself and the fillings, and we wanted to know what people thought, what they liked best, what were hits and what were misses.

We had excellent results. A happy crowd of Anglo and Latinos gave us rave reviews.

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Left to right: Veronica Laudes, Torito owner, Eduardo Lee, “Arepa Cafe” visionary, and Peter Chapman, a guest

We served up three classics: reina pepiada, carne mechada and queso fresco, tomato, avocado and guasacaca.

To finish, I had to do some of my sweet favourites: chocolate truffles with chipotle and guava; and baked sweet plantain with queso fresco, wild flower honey and roasted pistachios, below

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If all goes according to plan, Eduardo will open Arepa Cafe in Kensington this November.

Stay tuned

Yours in good food, great arepas and new beginnings

Carlos

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Arepa Cafe poster, design by Eduardo Lee


Factoid

Harina PAN is available in white and yellow corn varieties. It’s easily digested, contains no additives and is perfect for gluten-free diets.

Join me on July 29 from 6:30 to 8:30 pm, at the Summerhill LCBO for the “Sabor de California” festival.

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I am going to celebrate with a class to showcase the Mexican influences on the regional flavours of California cuisine.

Our foodie-road trip and what we’re making…..

First stop: Gilroy, the garlic capital of the world and the southernmost city in Santa Clara County.

Sopa de colilfor con ajo y crema

Cauliflower-garlic soup with crema la vaquita

Second: Oxnard, a community also in south, which has been honouring its Latino heritage for the last 15 years with an annual festival.

Oxnard salsa picante, queso fresco y tortillas.
Spicy tomato salsa, fresh cheese and corn tortillas

Third: Guadalupe, in Santa Barbara County, with Mexican influences not only in food but in music and art as well.

Ensalada tibia de cordinez con chili y chocolate
Warn quail salad with organic greens and spicy chocolate sauce..

Last stop before returning home the Anderson Valley, is located along highway 128 in Northern California about 2 1/2 hours north of San Francisco. famous for its culinary and viniculture heritage.

Torta con Fresas y dulce the leche
Strawberry shortcakes with dulce de leche

The cherry on top:
Great wines to match each course.

For more info please call LCBO Summerhill, 416 922-0403

Join us.

Yours in good food and celebrating Mexican culture and cuisine
Carlos

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*Spanish for: "Mmm. Wow. That's good!"