Monthly Archives: January 2014

Mexican Masks: The masks behind Nacho Libre

This isn’t a review of the movie Nacho Libre (2006), a film you either love or hate, depending how in touch you are with your inner teenage boy. However the film and its star Jack Black did much to bring Lucha Libre to the attention of the world outside Mexico and North America.

Mask for Nacho from the movie Nacho Libre

Mask for Nacho from the movie Nacho Libre

The film’s plot is (very) loosely based on the real life story of a Mexican catholic priest who as his alter ego Fray Tormenta had a 23 year career as a luchador, to raise money for his orphanage. Jack Black’s character, Ignacio the priest, similarly fights incognito as Nacho (it’s not a film known for its subtly).

His hero-turned-nemesis is Ramses, a champion luchador. All comes good in the end for our hero but not before he is humiliated and unmasked by the bad guy, Ramses.

The mask of luchador Ramses

The mask of luchador Ramses

In the real world of lucha libre Ramses is played by César Cuauhtémoc González Barrón, better known as Silver King. Like many luchadors he comes from a family of masked wrestlers, his father was Dr Wagner, his brother is Dr Wagner Jr. In 1987 Silver King was unmasked by El Hijo del Santo and his identity revealed. González continued to wrestle under different masks, then in a break with tradition in 2007 returned, remasked as Silver King.

Mexican Recycled Glassware and the Margarita

Say Mexican glassware and we all think of the iconic modern margarita glass and the cocktail* that goes in it, but Mexico has a long and honourable tradition of glass-making. Craftsmen brought to Mexico by the Spanish as long ago as the 16th century were the first to produce hand blown glass on the North American continent. Since then Mexican master craftsmen have given the art of vidrio soplado or mouth-blown glass-making their own flair.

Glass blowers at work

Glass blowers at work

In 2001 Caoba began working directly with small Mexican businesses to develop the wide selection of glassware the shop carries today.  The skill of glass blowing has been passed down through the generations and today’s workers are fiercely proud of their craft. Visiting the family-run glass workshops is always one of the most exciting features of our buying trips to the region.  The workshop floor is a hot, all-male environment, full of machismo bravado and humour but none of that detracts from the speed, dexterity and artistry with which these artists work; from molten glass to wine glass in 12 minutes.

The vidrio soplado Caoba stocks is all made from recycled glass. Old un-reusable glass such as beer and Coke bottles are saved from the landfill, melted down in the workshop furnaces and refashioned into our unique, eco-friendly Mexican glassware range. The traditional style blue-rimmed glass is complimented by bright, jewel-like reds, orange and aquamarines, as well as multi-coloured confetti designs, in all shapes and sizes from wine and high-ball glasses to (naturally) the Margarita glass.

An elegant, fluted champagne-style glass

An elegant, fluted champagne-style glass from Caoba

No one piece of glass is the same as another; mouth-blowing recycled glass means each item will have slight variations in shape and colour with little trapped air bubbles, like frozen champagne. This unique finish cannot be achieved by mechanised techniques.

On a practical level Mexican recycled glass is sturdy and dishwasher proof. But be aware, because it is so solid extremes of heat should be avoided. If taken straight out of the dishwasher, let it cool down before piling the ice in and don’t use with boiling water.

During one of our first trips to Mexico we discovered that ever-enterprising Mexican artisans had taken their glass-making skills to the streets. Setting up stalls with rods of coloured glass, pliers and

blow torches they can swiftly pinch out delicate flamingoes, octopus, parrots, lizards and chillies from the hot glass to sit atop cocktail or swizzle sticks. Needless to say, we had to bring these back too.

*Yes, we mean the Margarita (Daisy in Spanish). There are many theories and traditions about how the Margarita came into being; my own favourite is the Prohibition-based theory, that thirsty Americans drove over the border and had their brandy-based Daisy cocktail remade with Tequila….  !Ya esta! the Margarita was born (possibly).

Whatever its origins, the December 1953 issue of Esquire Magazine named it their Drink of the Month and published the first recorded recipe:
1oz tequila
    A dash of Triple Sec
    The juice of ½ lime or lemon
    Crushed ice
Rub the rim of a stem glass with the rind of a lemon or lime, dip rim in a shallow plate of salt to coat. Pour the tequila, Triple Sec and juice over the crushed ice in a container and stir. Strain into the glass and enjoy.