Palace of the Blue Butterfly | Episode 3

Posted by admin on Thursday Apr 7, 2011 Under Uncategorized

Spring. Finally.

I’ve thrown open all the windows. The hyacinths are in full glory in the window boxes, and when the breeze blows, the scent fills the house.

When that happens, I simply have to stop what I’m doing and just inhale.

Even though my pots of Tulipa Abba are in splendid bloom on the porch, it can still get cold at night. Soup is a great way to take the early spring chill off.

I’m giving you a recipe to try for Sopa Tarasca.

Two reasons why:

One, it’s the soup I was served on the terrace of the Villa Montana in Morelia the day I started writing this novel. Two, it’s exactly the soup I imagined Fatima serving Lili in Episode Two of Palace of the Blue Butterfly, the one she served in the rustic, clay bowls.

Actually, this isn’t my recipe. It belongs to Pati Jinich, the chef on Pati’s Mexican Table, a new cooking show on PBS. This show is just one more reason funds to PBS should not be cut!

Here’s a little clip:

The music is enough to turn me into a salsera. “Give me your chocolate, give me your sweet, brown sugar, give me hot coffee, give me your heart.” Pretty much sums up the things I want in life right there!

So go to Pati’s site, look up soups and then find the blog post “About a soup and a book“. I do have one suggestion though. You’ve got to make your own beans. Period. Canned beans taste like soap and metal. Yuck! Plus there’s the whole BPA thing.

I’m sure you could find some great bean recipes from Diana Kennedy. She’s a fascinating woman, and a wonderful cook, really one of the first people to put Mexican cooking on the English speaking map. Sometime I would love to study Mexican cooking with her in Michoacan. She used to give classes in her home.

Or, you could check out Rick Bayless’s site. He’s one of my heroes. Dave took me out to dinner at Topolobampo in Chicago once, and it was a super thrill!

Anyway, make yourself the soup, grab a cold Corona and a wedge of lime. Pop your earbuds in and listen to Episode Three. Things are about to get way more complicated!

[wpaudio url=”″ text=”Episode 3 – click and listen” dl=”0″]


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Morelia, Michoacan or Goals are Dreams with Deadlines

Posted by admin on Thursday Mar 17, 2011 Under Uncategorized

Next week I will complete one of my New Year’s Resolutions — to self-publish my novel Palace of the Blue Butterfly, to put it out to the universe, so to speak.

In my mind’s eye, I can still see exactly where I was when I wrote the first words of what would become that book. Really, they were more like questions than anything else.

I was sitting on my private terrace in the Villa Montana in Morelia, Michoacan The waiter had taken away my lunch dishes — a lovely fruit platter, a sopa Tarasca, and a basket of warm bolillos. I picked up my black leather-bound notebook, and with the thin point pen I always use, I wrote Who is Vivienne? Why does she live in Mexico City? What has happened to her?

When I started this whole process, I never imagined being able to create an audio book. In the end, it’s funny how much the audio medium has impacted my life — first, by working for Public Radio, second, by teaching inner city kids in Oakland to record and produce radio documentaries and plays, and now finally this, my own audio version of my book. (Thank you Seth Harwood and Scott Sigler!)

I always thought I’d play by the rules and stick with the traditional route: write queries, wait patiently, get an agent if I’m lucky (I was), submit it to a publishing house and so on and so on and so on.

And then, I reached a certain age (Ladies, can I hear an AMEN!?!) when playing by the rules didn’t interest me so much. Ditto people’s approval. Enough already. It was one advantage of the economy tanking. I was forced to be more courageous. Weren’t we all?

Look, I figure everything I have in life comes from the fact that some woman somewhere did something untraditional, something she wasn’t supposed to do: fight for the vote, form a Union, demand the right to own property, sit in the front of the bus, play male sports and even insist that her husband do half the blipping housework.

I guess this blog, this audio version of Palace of the Blue Butterfly is what freedom looks like.

If you think I’m not the least bit scared, you’d be wrong. But if being scared is stopping you from doing something you really want to do, don’t let it.

I’ll tell you a little story about the next picture . . .

This beautiful city — sort of like a hill town in Italy — is Morelia, Michoacan. Anyone have any idea what’s going on there? Actually, many friends of mine live there, and they see nothing of the drug violence. Still, much of Michaocan is in the grips of a Drug Cartel called La Familia.

Well, my first novel — Bird of Paradise — which I intend to podcast here as well, was rejected by a big publishing house with these words to my then agent . . . “Tell your client drugs are over in Mexico.”

Gentle readers, I listened to that advice as if it came from on high.

The good thing is I wrote my second novel, which you will hear next week.

The bad thing? Well, I don’t know if there was a bad thing. Why? Because I learned, and I’m passing that knowledge off to you.

I don’t know how that cautionary tale of yielding too quickly to authority may apply to your life, but if it does, you’ll know what I mean.

Listen to your own truth.

Love, Jane

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Mexico Trilogy Graphic Link