The Two Fridas

“I leave you my portrait so that you will have my

presence all the days and nights that I am away from you.”

Frida Kahlo

It is by sheer coincidence that recently I was invited to two separate events, one cultural and the other culinary, both having to do with the Mexican artist, Frida Kahlo.  First of all, run, don’t walk, to the Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera exhibit at the Heard Museum.  It will be a great activity to do during the summer as it runs through August 20, 2017.  Phoenix is the exhibit’s only North American stop on a world tour and offers a rare opportunity to see masterpieces of Kahlo’s such as Self Portrait with Monkeys and Diego on My Mind, and Rivera’s Calla Lily Vendor and Sunflowers .

 Kahlo’s Diego On My Mind

Included in the exhibition are a total of thirty-three works from the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection, along with more than 50 photographs taken by Edward Weston, Lola Álvarez Bravo and Frida Kahlo’s father, Guillermo Kahlo (among others), plus clothing and jewelry of the style and region that Kahlo chose to wear.  The Gelmans were Mexican-based European emigrés who were avid art collectors and friends of Diego and Kahlo.  Jacques Gelman was a producer of Mexican films and is credited for marketing the famous Mexican comic actor, Cantinflas (you may remember him as Passepartout in Around the World in 80 Days with David Niven).

Jacques Gelman, along with his wife Natasha, had a significant impact on the Mexican artists as there were few serious art collectors in Mexico at the time (1940’s, 50’s).  They also amassed a collection of 20th century European paintings and sculpture which was donated to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and is known as “The School of Paris Collection.”

On opening night guests were encouraged to dress in bright colors, so I dug this Oaxacan beauty of my mother’s out of my closet.

Lo’ and behold, I found a soul mate at the exhibit.

Frida Kahlo is remembered for her self-portraits, her pain and passion, and bold, vibrant colors.  She suffered from polio as a child and nearly died in a bus accident as a teenager that left her crippled, having to endure 30 operations in her lifetime.  She began to paint while recovering in a body cast and became fascinated by Diego Rivera whom she met as a student at art school.  Twenty years her senior, Rivera was a larger than life character that fascinated Frida, and she nicknamed him “panzón”, a term of endearment meaning fat belly.  Which brings me to my dinner at a new restaurant in Old Town Scottsdale, El Panzón y Frida.  Executive Chef Paulina Martinez hails from Sonora, Mexico, Arizona’s neighboring Mexican state.  After having been inspired by painting with her grandmother, Martinez has nurtured a love for the arts that she weaves into her cuisine, resulting in a unique dining experience.  The food is colorful, creative, and at times humorous and whimsical.  The menu brings to mind a book I am currently reading on Modernist Cuisine, which (among other things) encourages a chef to surprise diners with food that “defies their expectations in another way to engage them intellectually.”**  Go with a group in order to try several dishes, and keep an open mind.  It’s a fun spot to check out, and when you do, don’t be surprised if you leave with a little panzón yourself!  xoM

The Sage Margarita, with Milagro Silver tequila, Cointreau, sage simple syrup, fresh lime and sea salt foam.

Appetizers including this colorful plate of vegetables, fruit, and an unbelievable kale dip and goat cheese mousse.

Fried olives with remoulade.

This was one dish I found particularly whimsical: buffalo worm crusted fish cakes with arugula and tartar sauce. If you look closely, you can see tiny worms in the crust. It brings back wonderful memories of one of Hubby’s favorite dishes at Las Mañanitas in Cuernavaca which is a large plate of fried worms.

Sea bass ceviche on a lovely mango habanero salsa and blood orange foam.

House gyozas filled with sweet potato, carrot and beet purée in a citrus soy sauce.

Grilled octopus with spicy aioli.

Bone marrow with asparagus, corn tortillas and house chimichurri. I really loved this, and we had a bourbon chaser with it, which is a wonderful counterpart to the marrow.

Ahi tuna poke on bite size fried tortillas.

Seared scallops and coconut lobster with pickled potatoes and tomatoes in a black garlic purée.

16 oz. bone-in grilled ribeye over a Himalayan salt block and topped with house chimichurri.

For dessert, a popcorn ice cream “taco”.

Some info:

The Heard Museum

2301 N. Central Ave.,

Phoenix, AZ 85004


Tickets are $7 at


El Panzon y Frida

7323 East Shoeman Lane

Scottsdale, AZ  85251



**  Modernist Cuisine by Maxime Bilet and Nathan Myhrvold.  I was just invited by a friend to one of Nathan’s Modernist Cuisine dinners in Seattle, and am beside myself with excitement!!

All photos for by Marci Symington.  The dinner at El Panzón y Frida was a hosted event, but all opinions are my own.

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1 Comment

  • John Finley

    Marci, you look terrific, but then again you’d look fabulous in a sack. 😉

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