Monthly Archives: May 2014

A taste of Oaxaca in West Oakland

oaxacamural&owners

photos by Danenicole Williams

by Janaya Andrews

Just around the corner from McClymonds High school stands one of the most intricate, colorful and bold murals in West Oakland with corn husks, a wizzened farm worker, white doves and artisan cloths– the exterior of Tamales la Oaxaquena, a new Mexican restaurant which opened last month.

The food inside is as exquisite as the art outside, and as subtle and bold.

Tamales la Oaxaquena is the real thing, with genuine Oaxacan moles. It’s a great addition to restaurants in West Oakland, with more variety than the food trucks, as good as they are, and a personal touch in everything from cooking fresh tamales to the serving cold lemonade by its mother-daughter owner-chefs, Rosa Oliva (an ex-seamstress who learned to make mole at the age of 8)  and her daughter, Carolina Santos.

Competing with the corner store (and its equally stunning mural), which offers fried chicken, corn dogs and french fries,  this new Mexican restaurant hasn’t captured its share of local traffic.

For now, the traffic coming from McClymonds is minimal. Shamorra Washington, 16, said “I guess like everyone else at Mack,  I go to the places I know, that are already on my radar.”

But Tamales la Oaxaquena attracts local residents and workers, especially vegetarians.  At lunchtime, regular customers, Monica and Kelly, savored their tamales.

Monica said that her favorite food is the vegetarian tamale, made with corn husks with guacamole and banana leaves, but she likes the banana leaf because it’s more healthy and she became an vegetarian in middle school to avoid fats and unhealthy foods.

Kelly preferred the super burrito, chimichangas made by first toasting the shell and then melting the cheese, with mole, a special Oaxacan sauce with chocolate and hot chiles (the restaurant’s specialties are the smoky mole negro and a cinammon mole rojo).

Dropping in to grab a bite, Oakland school board member Jumoke Hinton Hodge said she prefers the mole without chocolate.

Owner Carolina Santos said the signature dish remains the tamale. “It depends on  whom we are serving: some whites mostly wants tamales and some Blacks prefer burritos.”

Part of the challenge is to satisfy both, using traditional spices and chiles as well as almonds and spicy dried peppers (guajillo, negro and arbol). These are the spices used by the indigenous people near Oaxaca, the Zapotec and Mixtec, with roots going back thosands of years.

The result is a flavorful meal, “juicy but always sweet and never beat.”

 

 

 

 

macksmack staff racks up 10 state journalism awards — 1st place in environmental reporting

 

anthonyawardphoto

Anthony Beron, editor of macksmack, accepting one of 6 journalism prizes

by Janaya Andrews

Winning 1st place award in environmental reporting, macksmack journalists swept a total of 10 awards in the California Press Women high school journalism contest.

“What an awesome win,” said Pamela Tapia, one of the blog’s advisors and a McClymonds graduate.

“We were competing against the wealthiest, best-funded, most tech-savvy suburban, private and parochial high schools in California,” she added.

First place in environmental writing went to Sana Saeed, a 2013 graduate, who tackled the toxins in lipstick in her piece “Is My Lipstick A Lethal Weapon?” Her story was also entered in the National Federation of Press Women high school contest.

Two seniors won top photo awards, Jonae Scott with a 2nd place in sports photography and Luckie Lovette with 3rd place in feature photography for a photo essay on tattoos.

“We pulled it off with the least expensive cameras — sometimes borrowed — and without high tech devices, lighting equipment or digital enhancements,” said Tapia.

Senior Lee Benson won 3rd place in environmental writing for writing “Eco-cool”, which discussed a rising trend in students bicycling to school.

Macksmack editor Anthony Beron racked up six awards, including 3rd place in news writing for a piece on the murder of classmate Denzel Jones in February. He won 2nd and 3rd places in environmental reporting, 3rd place in sports for a piece on the lone male cheerleader at McClymonds and 2nd place in opinion writing for a piece on vegetarians eating in the school cafeteria-

He also won an honorable mention in feature writing for a piece on the digital divide hurting student grades.

The awards ceremony took place at UC Berkeley’s School of Journalism on March 12.

 

 

Ask Naya: “carry-along” factor: dreams should include friends

Image

Dear Naya

There’s this dream I have been thinking about: I was going to  travel the world.

When I  told my friends, they told me that’s impossible for me to even do, that I should give up.

What should I do?

Confused

Dear Confused

I see what the problem is: your friends are only saying that to you because they will miss you if you leave.

Maybe their dreams were crushed when they were your age but age doesn’t have to do with dreams, you aspire and continue to aspire to fulfill  that dream, now there’s a lifelong dream.

Dear Naya

I have a friend who is trying to  travel to different places without me and doesn”t understand  that I want to come.

Can you try to change my friend’s mind before my friend is gone?

We’ve been friends for so long and I  don’t want to lose a best friend suddenly in the 11th grade.

Worried

Dear Worried

If you want to stay friends with her, you have to let her follow her dream and I know you will be crushed if she told you to pursuing living your own dreams. You  have a friend who obviously needs your comforting. She’s open enough to be honest. She shared her feelings because she realized that if she didn’t, it would affect your special bond.

Keep pursuing your dreams.  I  know she’s got your back no matter what  happens.

*Dreams are meant to last: without them, we wouldn’t make it in the world.