Cultrface – a blog dedicated to culture and how it enriches our lives.

Happy birthday, Carmen Amaya

Carmen Amaya baila alegrías en Música en la Noche de Tito Davison

Today is the 110th anniversary of Carmen Amaya’s birth. She was a Spanish-Romani flamenco dancer and widely considered as the greatest of all time.

Her rapid footwork became iconic, earning her fans across Latin America. She eventually settled in Buenos Aires and founded her own flamenco troupe. They toured everywhere from Cuba to Brazil.


Google honoured her with a Google Doodle, illustrated by Barcelona-based artist Genie Espinoza, and it’s gorgeous too.

Some links on Día de Muertos

a figurine of Dia de los Muertos skeleton couple with cacti in the background.

Día de Muertos or “Day of the Dead” is a holiday celebrated predominately in Mexico and by people of Mexican heritage around the world. It takes place on 1st–2nd November, although it can stretch as far back as 31st October or as late as 6th November if you live in Yucatan.

The holiday commemorates the dead in a joyous way where people pay their respects in remembrance of the loved ones they have lost. No doubt you will have seen the famous traditions of Día de Muertos such as calaveras (edible or decorative skulls made from sugar or clay), cempazúchitl (a marigold flower native to Mexico), and home altars known as ofrendas.

I thought it’d be cool to post some interesting links on Día de Muertos and its various traditions so here they are:


Perhaps that’s what all human relationship boil down to: Would you save my life? or would you take it?

A quote by Toni Morrison from ‘Song of Solomon’

Shout out to Chris Day, Britain’s only Black glassblower

© Chris Day

As Black History Month in the UK is coming to a close, I wanted to give another shout out to a Black British person and that is Chris Day.

Chris Day is quite possibly Britain’s only Black glassblower (or “certainly the only one that the artist is aware of”). Growing up in the West Midlands, Day spent more than two decades as a plumber before embarking on a career in glassblowing. He has since created incredible works with glass and mixed media and always has Black history at the forefront of his mind and creations, particularly the plight of Black British and Black American people.

“Like the glass I have pushed my approach in how I work with glass and ceramics in both traditional and experimental methods, to create contemporary artworks that represent my passion for this part of our history. As a black glassblower, I am one of few and on a quest to find and inspire more. My main purpose, however, is to engage the audience on issues that are hard to confront on many levels, using art to help overcome some of the traumas that haunt our collective past”

Day’s work has been displayed at the V&A in London, UK, The National Museum of Scotland, The Chrysler Museum in Virginia, USA, and National Museum Wales to name a few and in 2020, he did an interview with the BBC on how Black Lives Matter has found a place in his work.

A 'Monkey-Themed Banana Holder' is at the centre of a racism row in Hutto, Texas

Previously on The USA is Not a Serious Country — A Monkey-Themed Banana Holder Is Tearing a Texas City Apart:

“I believe the mayor has some racist tendencies that I think should be really alarming to the citizens he claims to represent,” Brian Thompson, one of two Black members of the seven-seat Hutto council, told The Daily Beast last week.

Calderone insisted that her gift’s monkey theme had no racial implications. Snyder apologized for offending anyone but claimed he wasn’t even aware of the monkey trope, and insisted that he was not racist.

Sure, Jan. Who the hell has a banana holder? They do just fine on a table or in a bowl. And for a whole bunch? Grow up.

Turning banana stems into useful fibres in Uganda

Did you know that you could make fibres out of discarded banana stems that can be “softened to the level of cotton”? I didn’t until the other day, and it’s happening in Uganda.

Uganda has the highest banana consumption rate in the world and is Africa’s top producer.

In rural areas, bananas can contribute up to 25 percent of the daily calorie intake, according to figures from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization.


To harvest the crop, the stem must be decapitated, they’re often left to rot in open fields.

But local startup TEXFAD, which describes itself as a waste management group, is now taking advantage of this abundance of rotting stems to extract banana fibre that’s then turned into items such as hair extensions.

John Baptist Okello, TEXFAD’s business manager, says it makes sense in a country where farmers “are struggling a lot” and have tonnes of banana-related waste.

The company, which collaborates with seven different farmers’ groups in western Uganda, pays $2.7 (USD) per-kilogram of dried fibre.

Uses for these fibres include the making of hair extensions, lampshades, and rugs. Now that’s what I call recyclable waste!

Related: how fish skin is used for leather in Kenya and Kenyan art made from flip flops.

I am obsessed with Chef Tyler and his grilled cheeses

$1 vs $100 Grilled Cheese

YouTube’s recommendation engine throws up all kinds of randomness when you watch enough videos of a certain type. Eventually, it decided to show me videos of some dude making grilled cheeses. And I watched more. And more. And now I’m obsessed.

The “dude” in question is called Chef Tyler, a lactose intolerant food photographer and grilled cheese connoisseur. Yes, you read that right: he’s lactose intolerant. So that means he has to try cheeses with minimal-to-no lactose in them (and I learned through his videos that there were a few, such as Muenster and Camembert with a 0–1.8% lactose range. Cheddar has 0–2.1% lactose range).

I haven’t had many grilled cheese in my life but having seen Chef Tyler’s, it has inspired me to search out different types of cheese and make my own. I hope to get a cheese pull as epic as his one day.

The enduring myths of Halloween poison candy in the US

For Atlas Obscura, Jennifer Byrne spoke to sociologist and “Halloween sadism” expert Joel Best about the enduring myths surrounding Halloween poison candy in the US. Since 1982, the fear of rat/ant poison in Halloween candy and razor blades in apples has caused a panic amongst parents and officials with the latter going as far as imposing jail time for offenders and hospitals offering free X-rays on seasonal treats (because radiation isn’t a problem, right?) But Best knows better:

“All I can say is I don’t know of a single case of a child killed by a Halloween poisoner,” says Best. “I’ve seen five news stories that attributed deaths to Halloween poisoning. In one case, it was the child’s own father, and the other four were all retracted.” […]

“My favorite story of this kind was the one where a kid had taken a bite out of a candy bar and said to his parents, ‘I think there’s ant poison on this candy bar,’” says Best. “So the candy bar got analyzed, and sure enough, there was ant poison on it, but it was on the end of the candy bar the kid hadn’t taken a bite from.” The child later admitted to having put the poison on the candy bar himself.

In a similar case, a child claiming that he’d found a pin in his Tootsie Roll led his parents to accuse a neighbor of the deed. After 20 years of no doubt awkward neighborhood interactions, the child, by then an adult, confessed to planting the pin himself.

I think the wildest story I read was an 8-year-old who died after eating a poisoned Pixy Stix. The culprit was his father who was “intent on collecting his son’s life insurance money”. I think that says a lot about where the dangers of unfounded moral panic really lie.

Halloween related (without the poison or razors): a mini Halloween post, Eva Marie’s Venom cosplay for Halloween, and awesome queer Halloween parties in Castro

Steve Harvey in an orange suit

Steve Harvey: “Where the hell do y’all live??”

That’s it. Just Steve Harvey in an orange suit. The clip is from Family Feud where people were the contestants were asked to name the top 6 things your friends dared you to eat as a kid.

I gotta say, I like the orange suit on him so props to his stylist and his tailor.

Related to Sartorial Steve: Steve Harvey, in a yellow suit, on getting fired

Zanele Muholi's 'The Politics of Black Silhouettes' exhibit in Paris

A bronze statue of a Black person sitting down on a plain of grass.
© Zanele Muholi, taken from the Paris+ par Art Basel website

Zanele Muholi (they/them) is a South African artist and “visual activist” known for their critically acclaimed photography. Their work mainly focuses on race, sexuality, and gender, partocularly the lives of LGBTQIA South Africans.

In their latest exhibition, The Politics of Black Silhouettes, Muholi taps into that Black queer community with the help of bronze statues:

Part of Paris + par Art Basel, Muholi’s The Politics of Black Silhouettes encompasses a series of figurative works positioned alongside statues by art historical greats like Auguste Rodin and Alberto Giacometti. While the previously installed sculptures are often presented on pedestals in stately positions, Muholi’s rest directly on the ground, exploring notions of value and reverence. One work depicts a figure sleeping softly on their side, while another shows a subject bound to a chair with belt-like restraints, their hands and feet anxious to move. The artist’s intent is corrective and “to rewrite a Black queer and trans visual history of South Africa for the world to know of our resistance and existence at the height of hate crimes in South Africa and beyond.”

via Colossal

The Politics of Black Silhouettes is available to view until 31st October so if you’re in or around Paris for the next couple of weeks or fancy a culture break, here’s some inspiration.

Pepper X is now the world's hottest pepper

Pepper X is now officially the hottest chili pepper in the world, according to Guinness World Records. It’s a small, yellow-green pepper and measures an average of 2.693 million Scoville Heat Units (SHUs), beating the classic Carolina Reaper, which averaged 1.64 million SHUs. And the creator of both? Ed Currie. The founder of PuckerButt Pepper Company also appeared on Hot Ones to get his Guinness World Records award and now I’m thinking there should be a Hot Ones award too.

Sidenote: what is it with things being called X this year? Come up with a decent name, please!

(via NPR)