Have you been to Mexico?
Alice has never been to Latin America. A busy mother of three and working a full time job as a teacher has meant that travel beyond London hasn’t always been that easy. She squints and I see her scanning her mind for a recent memory of a family holiday. ‘Oh dear!’ she jokes.
It is great then to have her tonight for our Mexican Film Night, because here in South London, in collaboration with Sounds and Colours Magazine and the Doodle Bar in Bermondsey, we have created a little Mexico of our very own. It is only for one night but it is enough to forget the rain and the rush, enough to travel in time and space, and enough to immerse ourselves into the magical world of tangled jungle, multicoloured birds, steaming hot pots and fabulous literature. Mexico is regal and we wish to pay our respects.
Our film for the evening is Como Agua Para Chocolate; a popular classic filled with romance and suspense, but also a sharp critique of gender, border towns and the Mexican revolution. Based on the novel by top-selling author and now prominent politician Laura Esquivel, we explore the relationship between food, love and life.
And food, love and life abound this evening. Chalked walls depict the recipes from the book and our guests peruse the ingredients like hungry librarians. The room positively bustles, chatter and smiles erupting like the waves off the Yucatán coast. Tamales, our caterers for the evening, attend to both our palettes and imagination, serving up dishes most have never even heard of before. Chicken cooked in chocolate? Cactus Salad? Sounds like something out of a film!
Oh yes, it is.
There are Film Nights and then there are Film Nights. We eat what we see, we live what we dream, and we dreamed of Mexico. We even dreamed of Laura Esquivel — imagine if she could join us and talk to us? Tell us about her novel and listen to our questions? Just imagine.
No need for that. This is, of course, one of those Film Nights. We hear her voice suddenly jump out of the speakers and her wide, warm face pops up on the giant screen, radiating like a moon — she is here!
The crowd claps and whistles and celebrates. Gracias Laura! We relay our questions, diligently written up on our board. Can you cook? Is the kitchen a symbol of life? Has the role of women changed in Mexico? Tell us a story only you know!
As the evening comes to an end, Maria tells me; ‘Thank you for tonight, I felt like I was back at home!’ Her long black hair now tucked into her winter coat. I watch her go out into the street, the cold hitting her face like tomorrow’s alarm. Yes, we are in London, but we just spent the night in Mexico.
Our trip to Mexico was made possible thanks to our collaboration with Sounds and Colours, a Latin American culture and music magazine, and Doodle Bar, a creative space for exhibits and events, plus a large wall for doodling!
Our next Film Night is February 21st, but on the 10th of November we’re travelling to Spain for Flamenco. Care to join?