Book PostsCulture

Today is Mexico’s Independence Day, and we’ve rounded up some of our favorite reads from and about this unique and awesome country. Each year on September 16th Mexico celebrates its independence with parades, parties, delicious food, and family and friends. If you’re interested in learning more about the history of Mexico and its culture, take a look through our book suggestions below.

mexico books

  1. The Years with Laura Diaz
  2. Mexico: Democracy Interrupted
  3. Pedro Páramo
  4. Frida: A Biography of Frida Khalo
  5. History of the Conquest of Mexico

What is your favorite book? Is there one specifically related to Mexico’s history? Let us know @carpejuvenis on Twitter!

Cover Image: Flickr


Professional SpotlightSpotlight

Gabriel Cabrera is a food and prop stylist who runs a gorgeous food, art, design, and culture blog called Artful Desperado, and we were hooked after seeing just one blog post. The photos will make you want to take photography (and perhaps even food styling!) more seriously, and Gabriel’s writing is fun, catchy, and engaging – you won’t be able to visit his blog just once.

After having studied Tourism Management at Universidad Anahuac, Gabriel received his Culinary Arts degree from Vancouver Community College. The skills he learned from culinary school comes into play every single day, whether he’s dreaming up a new recipe for Artful Desperado or for his Stylist job at Luvo Inc.

We are excited to share this exclusive interview with Gabriel, where he shares his top three photography tips, his favorite dessert he’s ever made, and an inside look on what his blog and stylist duties entail. Read on for more culinary inspiration!

Name: ​Gabriel Cabrera
Education: ​Tourism Management from Universidad Anahuac; Culinary Arts from Vancouver Community College
Follow: ​ / Instagram@ArtfulDesperado
Location: Vancouver, Canada

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define “Seizing Your Youth?”

GAB: ​I think the process of seizing your youth never truly ends. To me it’s a constant state of mind where you must take every opportunity you can to shape your future. Seizing your youth is a life­-long learning experience through trial and error. This means you cannot give up and you cannot shy away from creative/life challenges, otherwise you will be giving up on some very valuable life lessons (which by the way, are tuition free!). Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, but you always end up with a new skill that will help you get closer to success.

CJ: You majored in Tourism Management at Universidad Anahuac. How did you determine what to study?

GAB: ​I chose Tourism Management based on my personal interests, which are travel and food. It was a tricky choice! You know, turning something you love into your full-time job may not be what you would expect. When I chose Tourism Management I thought “I’m going to travel everywhere for a living!” I was wrong; I was stuck in an office making sure everyone was enjoying their vacations, and that killed me. Some people thrive in the service industry, but not this cat.

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CJ: You then went on to receive a Professional Certificate in Culinary Arts from Vancouver Community College. What sparked your passion for food and cooking, and what was your culinary school experience like?

GAB: ​I’ve always loved cooking. I was born in Mexico, so food is a HUGE part of our culture, pretty much every social interaction revolves around food (fine by me!). I wanted to do something with this foodie passion of mine, so I decided to take it to the next level in cooking school. I knew it was going to be hard work (despite what everyone thinks, a kitchen is more like the military than what you see on the Food Network). I had some really stressful moments where I thought to myself “why am I doing this!?!” but deep inside I knew I had to keep going. I did, and I don’t regret it one bit. I think that’s key – you’ve got to listen to your inner voice. Your gut is right 99.9% of the time and if something feels like it fits ­despite the stress and sleepless nights ­then it will turn out for the better. Trust me, your sweat and tears pay off!

CJ: You run the stunning blog, Artful Desperado. What inspired you to start your blog, and what do your blogger duties look like?

GAB: ​The blog started as a creative exercise to train myself to be more aware of what was happening in the art, design, and food world. From then on it took off and it changed a bit to be more focused on food and styling which is what I do.

My blogger duties are basically wearing many hats! Copy-writing, photographing, styling, editing, business skills (to create partnerships with sponsors or brands) and even a bit of HTML coding (for any bugs that may happen). A “day in the life of” looks like this: gather inspiration for a new post, test the recipe, gather props and ingredients, cook, style and shoot, edit, write the blog post, and promote to social channels. Mind you, due to my work schedule I currently don’t blog daily, I only update once a week­-ish.

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CJ: What is the best piece of advice you would give a baking/cooking enthusiast?

GAB​: Travel! Seriously, get out there. Cookbooks are awesome, and so are ideas from Pinterest, but traveling is just the real deal. You don’t have to go somewhere extremely expensive or exotic (though, if you can, then yes! by all means go), you can do trips in your state or province and try different things you’d never try before. Architecture, culture, nature; all of them will have a major impact on the way you see/create food.

CJ: You take gorgeous photos on Artful Desperado and your Instagram. What are your top three photography tips?

GAB: ​Top three would be: 1 -­ Great lighting. Lighting is key to achieving a great photograph, learn the basics and practice as much as you can and soon enough you’ll start seeing it everything in a different light (pun intended). 2 – If it doesn’t look good, then don’t share it­. The Internet is full of images, no need to add something that’s not appealing (there’s plenty of that already). Just Google “Martha Stewart food photos” and you’ll see what I mean. 3 ­- Experiment. Try different set ups and styles until you find the one that fits you, this also helps you learn lots about styling/photographing in different situations so you’ll become a pro.

CJ: You are also a photographer and stylist at Luvo Inc, a company that provides healthy and convenient pre­made meals that are good for you. What does your role as photographer and stylist entail?

GAB: ​My job is making sure we visually showcase our food and team recipes in the best way possible, according to brand standards and also depending on what our customers love. I also coordinate our photo shoots making sure we have everything we need: food, props, equipment, etc. On a typical week I’d be brainstorming for a shoot, hunting new props, working with our team to design a set for our “scenes,” cooking, and testing recipes, etc. It’s busy!

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CJ: What is your favorite meal or dessert you’ve ever made?

GAB: That would be a very simple and easy Mexican flan ­- honestly, whenever I make it it’s a couple hours before I eat it all. I love it because it brings back so many childhood memories and tastes like heaven.

CJ: What advice would you give to a young person hoping to set themselves up for success in the culinary world?

GAB: ​Have stamina! The kitchen is tough place. Also try to gain as much experience outside of regular work; go intern at a top restaurant or practice at home with friends and document it (these are the baby steps of starting to build your own recipes). Surround yourself with activities that will enrich your culinary style: go see some art shows, watch food documentaries and movies, check out classic cookbooks from the library. The more you know your craft, the more you’ll get noticed in the industry. Basically you’ve got to build respect from day one. Street cred, ya know!?

CJ:  How do you stay organized and manage your time?

GAB: ​I’m old-school and I use a monthly planner (an actual notebook) and a sketchbook. In my planner I put every single deadline I have and the name of the project. Any additional notes such as number of assets I need to create (e.g. number of photos or looks), shopping lists, mood boards, fabric samples, etc. they all go in my sketchbook in the appropriate project. Needless to say my sketchbook gets HUGE! But it’s nice to see all the things you done and keep all that important creative information for future projects.

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CJ: Is there a cause or issue that you care about? If so, why?

GAB: ​I’m not sure if it’s a cause but it’s something I really care about: I am pro­-food­-happiness and anti­-internet-­stupidity. The first means to be happy with your diet: don’t be vegan just because, don’t eat a bunch of meat just because ­ do it because you actually enjoy it. If you’re a concerned about the environmental impact, then make better choices such as eating cruelty free products. If you’re a vegetarian and you want to eat a spicy chorizo sandwich then do it! Whatever you choose, do it because it makes you happy.

The second is so important and I feel the new generation of youngsters need to learn more about it: everything you post online will stay in there forever and ever, so be careful and internet-­etiquette savvy.

CJ: What is an area, either personal or professional, that you are working to improve in and how?

GAB: ​That would have to be negative feedback. As a creative I really take it to heart when someone doesn’t like my work. I’ve learned that is not the end of the world -­ different strokes for different folks, right? Instead of shutting down, I’m working on taking the bits that will help improve my work and move on.

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CJ: What is your favorite book?

GAB: Noma: Time and Place in Nordic Cuisine by René Redzepi.

CJ: Having a loaded schedule can sometimes be overwhelming. What do you do when you’re having a bad day and need to unwind or reset?

GAB: ​I bake and/or go to take photos outside my home. Baking for me is like meditation as you’ve got to visualize your recipe, measure ingredients, etc., and the rewards are always oh­-so­-sweet (another pun!). Taking photos just for myself and not for work is also the best, a lot of times I go out and take a ton of photos and then delete them all. It’s kind of therapeutic.

CJ: What advice would you give your 20­-year-­old self?

GAB: ​Quality not quantity! Back then I felt I needed to have a lot of everything: friends, contacts, clothes. Really tightening your social life, contacts, and finances helps you stay focused on the things that matter.

Gabriel Cabrera Qs

Images by Gabriel Cabrera; profile photo by Tomasz Wagner; graphic by Carpe Juvenis

Professional SpotlightSpotlight

As a marketing professional, Kara Drinkard has had many great experiences with internships and jobs since graduation from the University of Washington. After starting as a business major, Kara soon realized that she was more passionate about Communications, which combined her business and marketing interests. Not only has Kara had a great career so far (she’s only 28!), her experiences in high school and college helped to shape her life today. One of these experiences includes building houses in Mexico, which was life changing for her. We had the opportunity to talk to Kara about what motivates her, how she manages her time, and what advice she has for those interested in marketing. Read on to learn more!

Name: Kara Drinkard
Age: 28
Education: B.A. in Communications from University of Washington with a Certificates of Sales from Foster School of Business
Follow: Twitter

How do you define seizing your youth?

I was blessed growing up because I went to a lot of summer camps, went to Mexico to build houses, and was really involved with the Boys and Girls Club. I was the President of the Youth Board there. We had weekly meetings and did community service activities. Take advantage of any kind of opportunity you have when you’re a teenager, and even before that. It sounds so cliché, but also seek out opportunities and get outside of your comfort zone. If something makes you feel uncomfortable in a good way, you will probably have a great learning experience. Taking opportunities that you have when you’re younger, or seek out things you can do to be active in your community.

What did you major in at the University of Washington and how did you determine what to study?

I majored in Communications, as well as the Sales Program through the business school. I originally started out as a business major, thinking I was going to go that route. I started taking all of the classes, absolutely hated accounting, and then realized how many more math and statistic classes I would have had to take, so I switched majors.

Communications was a great marriage between what I liked about business and marketing. Somewhere in my first year, I went the Communications route. I ended up doing the Sales Program because it was a good opportunity to get the business degree in with my Communications degree. If your school offers a program like that, I recommend taking it.

What made you interested in studying Communications?

I’ve always been interested in marketing, but also in how people work and how they work together. I’m also interested in how brands and companies make things work. I’ve always been creative and artsy. I’m not an artist, but I like being creative and being involved with business. I don’t think there was one thing that made me want to go that route, but with my creative mind and organized, planner-type personality, it felt natural.

What advice would you give teenagers or young adults who are interested in marketing?

Take every opportunity you have. Do job shadows with someone in marketing, internships, or meeting with someone in a position you want. Make school a priority. Push yourself, and if you can, go to college and get your degree. Even if not just for the sake of getting a job, go to college for the experience. Meet everyone you can in the industry that you are interested in.

Were there any high school or college experiences you had that were most memorable or life changing?

For me, building houses in Mexico in high school was life changing. We stayed in an area that was basically a landfill, and being exposed to the different lifestyle was eye-opening. It shed some light on being grateful for what we have, and it makes you want to work harder to make your dreams happen. I did that in high school three times, so that was a big one.

In college, my internship at KOMO TV was a big one. It was fun to be around the news anchors and have stuff going on all the time. Not only did I end up working part-time for the radio promotions staff, but I am still in contact with the people I worked with. That was a really great people experience.

What motivates you?

I have big expectations for myself and the type of life I want to live. I want to travel and have a successful career and make things happen in the companies I work for, so the idea of not wanting to regret or look back on anything in my life and wishing I had done something. You only get one chance to do what you want to do in your life, and if your situation is not good, do what you have to do to make it right.

You are in control of your destiny, and no one can change your situation but you. I am the one who is going to ultimately determine what I do with my life. I don’t want to be 80-years-old and look back with regret.

How do you know when your gut is right, and how do you distinguish between your head and your heart?

That’s a hard one. A lot of times, when you have a gut feeling, there are other signs that go along with it. There might be little hints and clues as to why something might not be right for you. If your gut senses hesitation, listen. If your gut is just nervous because you’re outside of your comfort zone, push yourself and don’t make excuses. When your brain and your gut together are questioning something, that’s when you need to listen to it. Sometimes it is hard to determine and you don’t always know.

How do you stay organize and how do you time manage?

I’m old school and I like to have a notebook. I’ll write down everything I need to do each day, and then create plans for everything. Whether it’s creating a calendar or timeline, I love to do those things. I use my phone to set reminders for myself. I don’t use any fancy apps, I just write things down and keep everything in order and moving along.

What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?

I would tell myself to always trust my gut, whether it’s a work or personal situation. You know what’s best for you. I’ve always wanted to live in Southern California, and even though I applied and got into colleges there, I stayed here where my family and long-term boyfriend were. If you have the opportunity to do something you’ve always wanted to do, do it and do what’s best for you. Sometimes you have to think about yourself.