Who Was Simon Bolivar

Who Was Simon Bolivar?

Who was Simón Bolivar?  Is one of the most frequent questions people ask me when they know of my Hispanic background. Simón Bolivar was actually a pretty complex individual, at least from the standpoint of bygone history.  His nickname was El Libertador (the liberator) because he fought for the liberation of so many South American countries.

In many ways, as I researched the man and his accomplishments, I was reminded very much of Ché Guevara.  They were both born into wealthy families, they were both well-educated and they both became passionate fighters for independence and revolution. They were also seen at the time and now as polarizing figures.

Of course there are the contingents that celebrate both men as freedom fighters and revolutionaries, but their political beliefs were always a point of contention.

Who Was Simón Bolivar and What Did He Accomplish?                                  

After being educated in Spain, Bolivar returned to his homeland of Venezuela although at that time it was known as New Granada.  During the time that Bolivar lived, the late 1700’s and early 1800’s much of South America was still under Spanish colonial rule.

For Bolivar being under Spain’s rule  was unsatisfactory and during his time in Spain he had moved about in the European circles where he conjured up many political ideas and beliefs that he borrowed from European nations. For example, he wanted to implement in South America a parliamentary system like the one Britain had.

He also had some political views that were somewhat unpopular.  For instance, he favored a lifetime presidency for his vision of a united South America free from Spanish rule.  Still, in his heart, Bolivar was a freedom fighter.  He led many military campaigns in South America that won independence for various South American countries such as Venezuela, Ecuador, Panama and Colombia.

Who Was Simon Bolivar?

Who Was Simon Bolivar?

During his life he formed the Gran Colombia which was a united federation that included the four aforementioned countries. Although the union was unstable and Bolivar would have to flee his homeland due to civil war and unrest, he left an indelible mark on the entire South American continent.

Manuela Sáenz

A discussion no matter how brief about Simón Bolivar must include his lover and muse Manuela Sáenz.  Although Bolivar was married to a woman who would eventually die of yellow fever, many considered Saenz to be Bolivar’s proper counterpart as she was herself a fiery activist and proponent of South American liberation.

Manuelita Sáenz as many knew her, helped Bolivar during many of his campaigns and aided in his escape an assassination attempt in Bolivia where he had named himself dictator.  She was herself born in Quito, Ecuador of Spanish descent and became a figurehead of South American liberation thanks to her efforts with Bolivar himself.

Later Life

Simón Bolivar’s days would see him liberate many territories from the Spanish, be named dictator of Peru and Bolivia and finally flee for exile in Europe.   He was a polarizing figure but had a grand vision and with any grand, revolutionary vision, there are bound to be detractors.

Such was the case for Bolivar who had dreams that mimicked the state system of the U.S., the parliamentary system of Britain and ones that were his own.  His leadership roles were short-lived but he succeeded in freeing much of South America from Spanish rule.

Simón Bolivar died in Santa Marta, Colombia on December 17th, 1830.  Many experts believed that he succumbed to tuberculosis.


What is Oaxaca Cheese?

What is Oaxaca Cheese?

If you just stumbled onto this article searching for some food articles you may be asking yourself what the heck Oaxaca cheese is. If you know what Oaxaca cheese is and are asking yourself the question “where do I find Oaxaca cheese?”  Fear not because I will share with you the answers. For now, let’s start with the basics…

What Is Oaxaca Cheese

Cheese lovers will rejoice over the mild and buttery flavor of Oaxaca cheese.  Although you will probably never see it being paired with wine, it is considered an artisanal cheese.  It gets its name from the region of Mexico where it originated.

It does not hit you as strongly as say a brie or a sharp cheddar and it is more akin to Mozzarella which makes it great for use in baked goods, for quesadillas and empanadas.  It has a stringy texture which makes it a perfect topping for the traditional Oaxacan dish known as Tlayuda.

The History of Oaxaca Cheese

The reason Oaxaca cheese has such a mild flavor is because it is a cheese that is made from cow milk.  The form of Oaxaca cheese that is most popular now is credited to Dominican monks who settled in the region of Oaxaca a long time ago.  The monks would typically make cheese from goat’s milk which would lend a stronger and more pungent flavor but when they arrived in Oaxaca and found that there was no goat’s milk readily available, they had to improvise.

What is Oaxaca Cheese?

What is Oaxaca Cheese?

The monks used cow’s milk and combined it with a method of cheese-making that is very similar to the process used to make Mozzarella from Italy.  Thus, Oaxaca cheese was born and implemented in many traditional Oaxacan dishes.  Since then it has become one of the most popular cheeses in Latin countries and is becoming increasingly popular with Anglos as well.

The Process

Oaxaca cheese is a curd cheese and it is kneaded and then stretched to give it its stringy consistency.  After it is stretched, it is usually wound up in a ball shape for packaging.  There is also a form of Oaxaca cheese called asadero and this incarnation of the dairy product comes in the form of a brick.

Asadero cheese is usually intended for slicing but it is made with the same ingredients as traditional Oaxaca cheese.  Oaxaca cheese whether in its brick or ball shape however will always be the same color; white.  Not pure white mind you but a very light, off-white.  It will also always be semi-soft.

Where to Get Oaxaca Cheese

Unfortunately you can’t just waltz into the national chain grocery store down the street and expect to find Oaxaca cheese. Unfortunately, the most readily available source of Oaxaca cheese is online.  There are very reputable sites where you can order authentic Oaxaca cheese such as MexGrocer.com and FoodServiceDirect.com.

For the freshest Oaxaca cheese you are going to have to do some digging.  Hopefully you live in a state with a fairly large Latin community because if you do, you can bet there will be a local Mercado that sells fresh Oaxaca cheese.  If you are south of the border you can also try a lecheria to get your fill of Oaxaca cheese.

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