Thanksgiving, Cabral style: The story of my mom’s turkey on Saveur’s Thanksgiving issue

Photo Credit: Todd Coleman

Between taking Stat 50. and English 1C classes, moving out for the first time, getting involved in a stupid amount of multiple new (paid!) projects and my blog getting viciously infected with Malware, my blogging has suffered severely – almost beyond repair.

But, I refuse to give up! After all, if it wasn’t for this little blog, I wouldn’t be where I’m at now. Thus, I will now reveal that after many hours of lost sleep, this blog is finally getting a revamp! A whole new makeover. Estimated to be unveiled January 1st 2013! Of course, more regular writing is will come with that!

For now, I will leave you with this. It is the story of my mom and my family’s Thanksgiving Zacatecano-American turkey tradition – on this month’s Thanksgiving issue of Saveur!


It’s pretty crazy, growing up I always knew her turkey was something special, rubbed with a spiced chile rojo paste and then served with chile’d turkey drippings. I always felt the pressure of recording her recipe for future generations, leave it to a national food magazine to get me to stop procrastinating and finally do it.

Cabral Turkey

Mexican Snack Foods – My latest for Saveur Magazine is out now! (The Mexico Issue: August 2012. Issue #149)

Saveur’s “The Mexico Issue” is here and guess who has a featured story on it? Yup, I’m sharing them glossy ‘ol food pages with Gustavo Arellano, Rick Bayless, Patricia Quintana, Diana Kennedy, etc.

This time, I write about Mexican snack food culture and how each and every candy, chip and caramel “is rooted in the spicy, sour, salty, and sweet flavors of the country’s cuisine.” Whether it’s in interbred history of those crunchy Cacahuates Japoneses or the ultra-tary flavor of a Limon 7 powder candy packet — they’re all here. Obleas, Cocadas, tamarind-paste-baed Pulparindos, all that glorious stuff.

So, go to your local newsstand now, whatever that means. Or just click on this link and read the whole thing online. But no matter what, make sure you have a corner liquor store or Mexican grocery market nearby!

Thanks to my girlfriend that was born and raised in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico (who also has an awesome foodblog linking food with ethnography) for being my insider source.

*Header photo by Todd Coleman of Saveur

Its Here: “Mexico Feeds Me: Exploring Mexico’s Culinary Heritage” My First Cover Story on Saveur Magazine

Photo Credit: Todd Coleman

Its here.

My first 2,390-word cover feature for freaking Saveur Magazine, including 14 (painstakingly-acquired!) original Cabral family recipes and a 500 word “Kitchen Glossary” story on my favorite fruit, Mexican Tunas (prickly pears) …is out on newsstands nationwide now.

Read the full story on if you can not wait, but please go out and buy the print edition and support the print cause!

What else can I say? Other than thank you to everyone who has read and supported me over these last five years of my coming-of-aging through food writing. A big thank you to everyone at Saveur that made this whole thing happen, especially James Oseland for granting me the opportunity and Todd Coleman for making everything look lovely. Check out his tasty slide-show on the trip, here.

It is the greatest accomplishment for me thus far in my twenty-two year old life to have my mother and father’s recipes from los ranchitos Zacatecas up there in the cuisine pantheon of the world. This article is a turning point in my life as I vow to keep following my dreams…no matter what. This magazine finally made my parents understand what exactly I do.

As I dig deeper into the craft of writing and discover myself along the journey, I hope all of you will be there next to me, both the new and old readers alike!

To many more cover stories in the future and a long life full of humble writing!


New Beginnings, My Epic Saveur Zacatecas Piece Featured In May Issue & Writing About Food/Punk Rock For OC Weekly

I Am Here

So, it has been an absolutely RELENTLESS last month for me.

To start off, I have recently experienced some pretty antagonistic life realizations lately. Well, I will just say I underestimated the imminent reality of transience in life. Things that once were, will not always be. “Con tiempo…todo se acaba, nada es eterno en el mundo, ni teniendo un corazon, que tanto siente suspira por la vida y el amor” (Antonio Aguilar). But I can not let that stop me in my tracks now, not after all I have accomplished…on my own.

A Prickly Pear Blossoms No Matter What (photo courtesy of Foto Martien on Flickr)

Like countless rancheras, punk rock anthems, gangster veteranos and Descartes have told me, one must “Conquer yourself, rather than the world [homie]”. Alcabo, “uno viene a este mundo solito, y pues, mejor ser solito que mal acompañado. Asi no me meto en compromisos, ni me dejan mal parados.”

Nonetheless, I am happy to say I am finally taking school seriously again, yup, twelve units of educational hell at Pasadena City College. Finally tackling the general ed. classes that I put off for so long, so if anyone out there wants to tutor me in math, feel free to drop me a line because I need the help. And whatever already, I am majoring in Journalism/Communication and will transfer to USC, there I finally made up my mind.

Also, proud to say I now happily call Gustavo Arellano mi jefe! Yup, the fellow Zacatecano, life mentor, role model who writes “Ask A Mexican” is now my editor. I scored this sweeeet (yes, even if unpaid) Internship at OC Weekly in Costa Mesa. Got my own pinche cubicle and everything! Ahh raaaza! As if it couldn’t get any better, I cover food and punk rock events. Thank you universe for smiling at me. I just finished writing my first print “weekend pick” for their calendar section on the freaking Dickies and Adolescents show next week in Long Beach. I will also be covering shows too, so its going to be nice to write about my first love in life too. I am already covering the Punk Rock Picnic and PUNK ROCK BOWLING FESTIVAL IN VEGAS!).

Here is a rundown of the food pieces I have written for them so far:

Announcing Stick A Fork In It’s First Intern: Javier Cabral, a.k.a. The Glutster!

Free Tickets to Aquarium of the Pacific This Saturday for First 100 People Who Dress ‘Cheesy’

What NOT to Do While Recording a Cable TV Food Show (and How to Score One Yourself!)

‘I Used to Be a Vegan’ by Zion I & the Grouch: Vegan Underground Rap, Yo!

Suffice to say, this new schedule is bad ass, and my energy, passion for it is not going anywhere. Even if I have to drive all the way to Costa Mesa and then back to P.C.C for a night class on the same day, yes that is almost a four hour commute by the way. Umm, unfortunately, I can not say the same for my wallet and ass; $20 a day and numbing.

Also, I am freelancing (unpaid again) for The Alhambra Source, so be on the lookout out for them. Here is an article I have written for them already.

From high school misfit to The Glutster, via Wahib’s

And now for the biggest news! *fast punk rock drumroll with base drum please….

I have finally finished the my epic piece for Saveur Magazine!. The Mijos Journey will be out on newsstands across the world in the last weeks of April and whole month of May! Extremely happy to say that I worked my ass off for a to compile a 4000+ word narrative on visiting the beloved ranchitos of my parents beautiful home state of Zacatecas for the first time. It was a journey of getting to know my roots through food, it comes complete with 20+ family rancho recipes, including, are you ready? My mom’s world famous Menudo (as made famous on the Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern: Los Angeles). All this, within a week and a half.

todd snapping quesadilla
Saveur Executive Food Editor Todd Coleman Snapping Away At My Mom’s Enchiladas

This piece is a huge milestone for not only myself but for my family, to painstakingly distill the ancestral recipes of my deep rancho roots and have them up there with the other great cuisine in the world is a life accomplishment for me. Saveur flew my mother and I out to Zacatecas last year and issued us one of the best food photographers in the world to come along for about a week…it was a turning point. I still can’t still quite fathom everything is actually happening. This will also help to finally show my family better understand what it is exactly that I do in my career, and it is not “just me on the computer.”

la familia
My Mom, My Aunt Marta and My Tia Margarita: Making Cheese in La Yerbabuena

I am planning on having a “Reading Party” somewhere so stay tuned to find out where, thank you all for reading me and inspiring me to keep on going. Salud!

Saveur Office Staff Meal: So THAT’S How They Roll…

I finally got the chance to meet and greet with some of the friendly staff over at Saveur last night. It still seems ethereal to me to think that I worked as a fixer and gatherer for the upcoming March L.A issue as a whole, driving Mr. Oseland around South L.A in my dad’s jerry-built, 93, stick-shift Saturn, scavenging Southern, super exotic Mexican Herbs for herb photo glossary…not to mention having two featured pieces printed.

My nervousness only grew as the numbers on the buildings on West 32nd street kept getting smaller. I had took a train that required me to walk a little bit longer…on purpose. To no avail with my freakishly lengthy legs, I was there: 15 East 32nd Street. 1st floor, 2nd floor…then there it was.

saveur signage
Still In Awe

I don’t know why I was nervous, just added on to the entire ‘overwhelming’ feeling of NY as a whole. Was relieving to see that they were expecting me though…

saveur test kitchen
Test Kitchen: A Cupboard The Size of A Small Library

dining area
Dining Area

I had dropped in just in time for their Mardi Gras themed dinner. They were busy, stressed and tired as they were just closing an issue but like Luciano Pavarotti said in his book, My Own Story:

“One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.”

Ben Mims Cooking up A Storm
Ben Mims Cooking Up A Saveur Storm

Ben Mims had just finished frying up some shrimps and oysters, to be the centerpiece of the dinner. Po’ Boys here included just baked, dense french rolls, a freshly mixed tart and creamy Remoulade Sauce, juicy, sweet tomatoes still on the vine (even in the dead of Winter!) and an Ambrosia salad, with a toasted coconut topping.

get your saveur fix
The Saveur Fixins!

And when offered delicious bounty, the Glutster always has his way…

shrimp and oyster po' boy
Glutster Po’ Boy

My bread accentuated, SAUCED po’ boy was a mixture of both crisp shelled, tender oysters and shrimps, with minimal veggies to get in the way amd more sauce to soften up the dry bread–

Their dessert choice of the night was nothing short but ridiculously awesome…of course. A Mardi Gras Kings Cake, a celebratory treat standard down south around this time of year. Usually more on the dry side of cakes with a jam filling, sugar and dried fruit topping, the version here was fluffy, with a cream cheese and brown sugar filling spilling out and caramelized with crunchy, multi-color icing. Ben described it to me as “basically a cinnamon roll, but shaped differently and extra decadent!”

kings roll
Extra Decadent Mardi Gras Kings Cake: Overflowing With a Cream Cheese-Maple-Brown Sugar Filling

Just like a Mexican Rosca De Reyes, a jesus doll is baked in somewhere in the reef shaped roll, and it is tradition to throw a party for whoever bites into it first! I overheard that a whole pecan was used here, but no party for me.

king bread slice
No Party For Me: Should Have Gotten Another Slice!

So That’s How They Roll, huh?

I can definitely get used to this…