Cinnamon is a spice commonly used in Mexican cuisine for both sweet and savory dishes. So cinnamon was undoubtedly found in Frida’s kitchen. It’s used to make mole, Polvorones de Canele (cinnamon cookies), and Te de Canela (cinnamon tea). Ceylon cinnamon (and not the common Cassia cinnamon with significant amounts of coumarin) is used.
To make Te de Canela, break three sticks of cinnamon and place in a pot with 4 ½ cups of water and bring to a soil boil. When the water starts to bubble, remove from heat and let seep for 15 minutes. The cinnamon will break down and turn the water red. Add a teaspoon of lime juice.
Cinnamon combined with honey has a magical effect and is often used to lose weight. One teaspoon of honey combined with ½ teaspoon of cinnamon in a cup of boiled water or even coffee is a good way to start off the morning.
Puerto Rican songwriter Bobby Capò is best known for his song “Piel canela” (Cinnamon Skin), a love song, released two years before Frida’s death in 1954. The singer tells his lover that the infinite can be left without stars and the sea can lose its immensity but he begs her not to let the black of her eyes die or lose the cinnamon color of her skin.
In 1953, Josephine Baker came out with her own version in French. Frida probably never heard the song but probably would have enjoyed it. Because Frida and Josephine had been lovers.
In 1939, Frida was in Paris for an exhibition, “Mexique”, organized with the help of Marcel Duchamp, that included the works of Manuel Alvareq Bravo as well as Mexican folk art from the collection of André Breton. The Louvre bought one of her paintings, “The Frame” (now at Centro Pompidou).
Frida was not impressed with Breton or the French. In a letter to photographer Nickolas Muray, Frida complains that she can’t stand the so-called intellectuals of Paris and would rather sit on the floor of the market of Toluca and sell tortillas than have anything to do with the Parisian artists. All they do is sit in cafés poisoning the air with their theories that never come true. What’s worse, they never have anything decent to eat in their homes because they don’t work expecting, instead, to be maintained by “rich bitches”.
Merci, Josephine, for La Conga Blicoti!
Copyright © 2016 Cynthia Korzekwa. All Rights Reserved