The Tradition of Mexican Masked Wrestling
by Kitty Williams
Good versus evil. It’s a struggle as old as time, but rarely is it portrayed more colorfully and energetically than in the Mexican tradition of lucha libre. Part sport, part theater, and part masked drama, lucha libre (loosely translated as “free-style wrestling”) is deeply embedded in Mexican culture.
The wrestlers, or luchadores, are characterized by their unique masks, as well as the rapid sequences of holds, fast-paced moves, and aerobatic maneuvers they employ. Luchadores are generally divided into two categories: the “good guys,” los técnicos; and the “bad guys,” los rudos. To the delight of the fans, the luchadores do battle, with los técnicos playing by the rules and using formal combat styles more in keeping with Greco-Roman–style wrestling and martial arts techniques, while los rudos rely on underhanded moves and dirty tricks.
While lucha libre is a relatively recent development, masks have long played an important role in the cultural life of Mexico. Its pre-Columbian civilizations celebrated important events with dances and festivals that frequently incorporated masks ranging from comical to threatening. When the Spanish arrived in 1519 and endeavored to convert the Native people to Christianity, they integrated indigenous customs into the Christian practices they aimed to promote. As a result, today’s cultural festivals in Mexico frequently reflect a blend of pre-Columbian and Christian traditions.
Wrestling as a sport in Mexico dates to 1863, when during the French Intervention Enrique Ugartechea, the first Mexican professional wrestler, invented Mexican Lucha Libre based on Greco-Roman wrestling. But it was actually an American, wrestler Cyclone Mackey, who is often credited with introducing the masked element to Mexican wrestling audiences in 1933,… continues
Spring in the Sky Islands
by Jennie MacFarland, Tucson Audubon Society
As temperatures climb in southeastern Arizona during the spring and summer, many of us retreat to the cooler environment that the mountains provide. Lush and scenic Madera Canyon in the Santa Rita Mountains is particularly inviting with its flowing creek that is lined with large, shady sycamore trees.
While visiting such a tranquil location, you may hear a strange noise echoing from the trees—a repeated “kwok” call that sounds a bit like a frog or the bark of a small dog (hear it at tucsonaudubon.org/trogon-call). The sound is actually the territorial call of an elegant trogon, a beautiful bird that is particularly special in this region. They look more like a bird of the tropics—with the males having an iridescent green back, bright red belly, and long tail with black and white barring. The females are more subdued in their coloration, with brown and beige tones and a pink lower belly. There are dozens of species of trogons in the tropics, but the elegant trogon has the distinction of being the only trogon species that has a nesting population in the US, and that population is all within southeastern Arizona.
The mountains of southeastern Arizona add to the rugged beauty of our region and help to make it one of the top bird watching destinations in the country. Often called Sky Islands, our mountain ranges—the Santa Catalinas, Santa Ritas, Huachucas, Chiricahuas, and others—are part of the system of mountain ranges called the Sierra Madre Occidental. That system is nearly a thousand miles long (mostly in western Mexico) with only its northernmost end crossing the international border into southeastern Arizona. The system also serves as a corridor, allowing plants and animals predominantly associated with Mexico to find their way into Arizona.
Of all the bird species that can be found in our region because of that corridor and the Sky Island habitats its offers, the elegant trogon is one of the most sought after… continues
Attracted to Apricots
by Judith Baigent-King
The season for fresh apricots is short—May—although in their dried form they are available year-round. This delicious fruit, grown mostly in California, is usually the first stone fruit to come into season. When ripe, they are sweet with a slight sour edge; unripe apricots can be quite sour.
Buy apricots that are bright orange and slightly soft. To ripen, place them in a paper bag and let stand on the counter for a couple of days. Then place them in a plastic bag and refrigerate. Note that raw apricot pits are toxic; they contain cyanide. However, once roasted they are edible and taste similar to an almond.
Turkey grows about 15% of the world’s apricots and produces about 70% of the world’s dried apricot supply. Dried apricots can be purchased either sulfured, which protects the fruit’s flavor, color, and texture, or unsulfured, which results in a firmer, brown product. The sulfur is water soluble. To remove it, rinse apricots in cold water and then soak in warm water for about 30 minutes.
This versatile fruit, both fresh and dried, is delicious in many recipes. Start your day with a fresh apricot smoothie. Using a blender, puree 2 cups (about 3/4 pound) pitted fresh apricots, 1 cup cold coconut water, 1 cup hulled strawberries, and 1 cup frozen pineapple. One teaspoon of flax seed oil can also be added.
For a seasonal appetizer, stuff half a pitted fresh apricot with a bocconcini (fresh mozzarella) ball, top with shredded basil and chopped pistachios. Drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar… continues