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Esperanza Takes A Culinary And Musical Tour Of Mexico

Azul by Julian P. Ledezma.jpg
Julian P. Ledezma
Azul Barrientos plays a jarana

The Esperanza Center has found a way to continue its monthly concerts. The concerts, like many performances in the COVID-19 pandemic, will be virtual. But folklorist and artist-in-resident Azul Barrientos has added a culinary angle.

“I created this new series called ‘Noche Azul Sabor de Mexico,’ which means ‘The Taste of Mexico,’” she said. “And I've been focusing on different states and regions and inviting chefs from the region to share a traditional dish.”

The chefs create a video showing how they cook their recipe, then Barrientos cuts that video into segments.

Azul Barrientos
Jack Morgan
Azul Barrientos

“We have a little video of the ingredients and have to set up everything to start cooking, and then we hear two songs, from that region. And then we see a little bit of the continuation of the process,” Barrientos said. “And then we hear two more songs of other composers from the region.”

And so the regional dish gets cooked, and regional music gets played. The music is all acoustic and reflects the flavors of the area.

“We have a full band, which is harp, upright bass, percussion and cello. And that is Emilio Alvarez on the cello, Juan Cabrera on the harp, Nina Rodriguez on percussion and Andrew Bergman on the upright bass. And I'm playing the jarana and guitar,” she said.

Another change to this month’s concert: the two performances are divided into English and Spanish.

“In between the sets, I come back live and I'm talking about either the experiences or I'm responding to some of the comments online,” she said. “All of that is in English.

Saturday night’s experience is in English, and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, the performance is in Spanish. This event is free, but the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center asks for a donation if you’re able.

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Jack Morgan can be reached at jack@tpr.org and on Twitter at @JackMorganii