Tag: wine

I Just May Live Forever

Here’s a quick thanks to Festina, Juan, Jenn, Millie, and the always amazing Ankhesen Mie for their recent comments on my posts. Also, thanks to Pete for commenting on my post about wine tasting… which reminds me.

As I’m sure you’ve heard, people who drink wine tend to be healthier than abstainers. This means that I am encroaching on invincibility, because in addition to my love of vino, I am most positively Hispanic.

Yes, on the heels of the Immigrant Paradox, we have the even more perplexing and intriguing Latino Paradox. It sounds all twisty and stuff, doesn’t it?

This term describes “the surprising health of Latinos in the United States” who “are less likely to have health insurance … go to doctors less often and receive less in the way of hospitalization or high-level care when they are sick. Yet they … have lower rates of heart disease, cancer and stroke.”

For some reason that doctors, researchers, and healthcare experts can’t explain, we Hispanics are generally healthier and tend to live longer than our white or black brothers and sisters. On a purely anecdotal level, I can back this up.

My grandmother is pushing ninety and suffers fewer physical ailments than some people half her age. Indeed, members of my family usually have long lives, as long as they don’t get shot (but that’s another topic).

So what is the basis for the Latino Paradox? Well, among the guesses are concepts that I’ve discussed before, such as the fact that “Latino culture is particularly family-oriented; there also are strong community and neighborhood networks.” In addition, we Hispanics “eat somewhat more healthfully, with higher consumption of fruits and vegetables” despite the fact that “white adults know more about nutrition than Latino adults.”

To really pile it on, the stats show that “pregnant Latino women are less likely to smoke, drink alcohol, use drugs or have sexually transmitted diseases than American women as a whole,” which probably explains our “lower infant mortality rates, and quite probably health later in life.”

Clearly, we Hispanics are one beneficial gene mutation away from becoming completely bulletproof.

But it’s not all good news. And as I’ve written before, getting Hispanics to have regular medical checkups can be a challenge. Furthermore, the researchers found that “although Latino children who immigrate to the U.S. with their parents have lower rates of obesity than their U.S.-born peers, their risk of obesity increases the longer they live here.”

In other words, the more time Hispanics spend in the United States, the more likely they are to become fat, sedentary, and artery-clogged Americans. The Latino Paradox holds that “acculturation to the American way of life may worsen the health of Latinos, especially when combined with lack of access to medical care.”

As such, the lesson of the Latino Paradox is obvious.

I hate to break it to certain political leaders, but if we really want to reduce the cost of healthcare, and help Americans of every race to live longer while we’re at it, it’s clear what we have to do:

Everybody has to become a little more Hispanic.


Gimme a Shot of Cabernet

I’ve mentioned before that one of my vices is alcohol, specifically wine. And yes, people in wine shops are not always delighted to see me.

In any case, I’ve also mentioned that my wife and I like to go wine-tasting, which is about as “boogee” (as Cousin #1 would say) as it gets. I mean, it’s not exactly keeping it real in the barrio to say things like, “The tannins on this zinfandel give way to notes of chocolate.”

But as I‘ve also stated, a person can get drive himself insane by measuring every decision or preference against the ever-shifting and amorphous concept of “authenticity.”

So I’m not going to apologize for the fact that we like zipping through the California countryside and sampling the vineyards’ vino.

When we first started doing this, my wife and I were among the few Gen Xers who showed up in the tasting room. Lately, however, we’ve noticed that more people are our age. Perhaps it is a truism that individuals develop more sophisticated palates and upscale tastes as they get older. Or maybe my peers have realized how depressing keggers are when you’re pushing forty.

Regardless, I’ve also noticed that I’m no longer the sole Latino at such functions. In the past, the only Hispanics I ever saw were the laborers in the fields. Indeed, this agricultural industry is one of the top employers of Latinos, and several Hispanics have worked their way up to management or even ownership positions — something highly rare in corporate America.

In the tasting room, however, it’s still been mostly white people — at least until lately. So what should I make, if anything, of the observation that more Latinos are joining me in swirling around a glass of syrah?

It’s probably nothing more profound than the fact that, even in these horrific economic times, the demographic shift underway in America continues. And it won’t be long before every aspect of upscale U.S. culture — from country clubs to executive boardrooms — gets an ethnic makeover. It is inevitable.

However, it also means that whenever Hollywood gets around to remaking Sideways (every movie get remade, sooner or later), they will probably replace Paul Giamatti with someone who is, shall we say, a little swarthier.


Guess They Don’t Sell Chilean Wine

Recently, I wrote about the arrest of Henry Louis Gates, an incident that has resuscitated the issue of racial profiling. In that post, I said that I’ve had run-ins with the police, but they’ve been rare.

What I didn’t mention is that non-authority figures – like storeowners, next-door neighbors, fellow riders on the subway, and the like – also engage in racial profiling from time to time.

I was reminded of this last week when I stopped in a new wine shop that recently opened in my neighborhood. I thought it would be a good idea to support the local merchant (plus, I really like wine).

Red Wine

The only other person in the shop was the white, middle-aged woman behind the counter. I browsed under her suspicious glare for a moment before spotting the open bottle of red before her.

As you may know, many wine shops have free tastings to encourage people to buy. It was the standard set-up, complete with little plastic cups, so I asked, “Are you having a tasting?”

“No,” the woman said.

Then she grabbed the bottle and put it under the counter.

Now, this was odd. In fact, I could think of only three reasons why she would hide the wine from me.

  • The bottle was hers, and she gotten sloppy in concealing her day drinking. Naturally, stealing from the inventory and getting blitzed on the job is something you want to keep from the customers.
  • The bottle materialized from another dimension in some kind of time-space anomaly. The woman, an amateur scientist, recognized the cosmological implications, and instead of calling Stephen Hawking at once, she hid the bottle rather than acknowledge the frightening paradox that its existence posed.
  • The bottle was for a tasting. But she just didn’t like me.

I couldn’t decide which of these scenarios was true. So I just nodded and left. And of course, I didn’t buy anything.

Now, the shop is a brand-new establishment, locally owned and without the benefits of major corporate sponsorship. It is no doubt heavily in debt from start-up costs, and it has opened in the midst of a devastating recession. And it was not exactly crawling with customers. So why would an employee take even the slightest chance on offending one of the few people who walked through the doors (a person who was, until the moment of refusal, ready to buy something)?

Well, if it wasn’t scenario one or two, above, I can only figure that the woman thought, “We may be on the verge of financial ruin, but damn it, if we let in browsing Latinos (unemployed ones at that!), it will just be a matter of time before all kinds of riff-raff are shoplifting Chardonnays.”

No, you can’t be too careful.


Grocery List

My eye continues to heal up from surgery (see my previous post on this). But I’m still not ready to dive into lengthy posts. For starters, my double vision keeps convincing me that everything I write is twice as long as I intend it to be. Therefore, until my cornea, iris, and so on begin to behave, I’ll just recount this quick surreal conversation for you:

A few days ago, my wife and I are were shopping for something to bring to our friends’ house. They were having us over for dinner, and I thought the most logical thing was to show up with a bottle of wine.

I grabbed a Malbec that looked good, but my wife said that our friends liked only white wine. Now I prefer red, but I’m willing to roll with this. Still, I couldn’t resist the obvious joke.

“Why just white? Are they racist?”

“Yes,” my wife said. “And they eat only white rice and white bread and vanilla ice cream.”

“But that’s not your taste,” I said.

“No,” my wife said. “I like brown rice and wheat bread and coffee ice cream.”

She was lying about the last item, but I appreciated the effort. In any case, I think it’s obvious why she wound up with me.


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