One of our neighbors is a vendor at the Saturday Market as well as the Sunday market at Xico. Just to remind you, these markets are part of a loose coalition of local markets that sell organic, near-organic and artesanal products. Our neighbor sells produce from his own terreno outside of Xico as well as organic masa products his wife and daughter make: tortillas; picadas (maybe picados); and tlacoyos which are masa and bean patties. He is one of the growing number of Mexicans with Type 2 diabetes. Unfortunately, many of these cases are found among the poor and are at least in part attributable to the diet they are able to afford. I hate Coca Cola for this. If you read Spanish, you will find more information about diabetes in Mexico here
http://www.invdes.com.mx/anteriores/Junio2001/htm/diabem.html The article is from 2001 but the situation has not improved.
Anyway, our neighbor has had diabetes for ten years, and at the age of 49, a few weeks ago he had to have his leg amputated well above his knee. We stopped in to see how he was doing. As you can imagine, he wasn't at the peak of feeling happy and optimistic, but he and his wife and daughter were warm and welcoming. He is a sweet man, his sweetness now tinted with sadness and perhaps fear. Soon after we arrived, his wife brought us warm, sweet coffee and just-made tortillas spread with black beans.
I had heard that he was a musician and on his wall hung his guitar and violin. He took down his violin, not a fancy one but treasured, nestled in a velvet-lined case. He handled it with loving care, and when we encouraged him, he played for us. Perhaps some of his worries slipped into the shadows for a brief time as he was drawn into his music.
The tortillas and tlacoyos and picados that he and his wife sell from their home as well as in the markets are made from maize they grow on their own land. They dry it and then have it ground and made into masa at another house here in the Colonia. The maize is completely different from the maize we're accustomed to in the US, and you should never expect that you can cook it so it resembles the stuff we eat there. Another thing you might be interested to know is that the processing of maize to make masa, the dough from which tortillas are made, makes it more nourishing. In fact, maize tortillas are a good source of calcium.
We wanted to buy some tortillas while we were there, and our neighbor also had celery available, so we said we would buy some of that, too. We waited while his wife and daughter went out back to the kitchen which is open to the out-of-doors. Everything is cooked on an open wood fire from which whisps of smoke drifted in to us in the sitting room. Soon the wife brought us a warm, steamy packet of hand-made tortillas which thicker than those made by machine. The unbleached maize gives them a dark, rich color. Jim reached into his pocket to pay, and they absolutely would not accept anything. Nada nada nada. Punto.
There is a lot of ferment in the field of diabetes these days. If you are interested, the following article in English from the New York Times is here.