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Mexico’s Cuisine: A Way for a Merrier World

11 May 2011 2 Comments

J.R.R. Tolkien once said, “If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world”. 
Maybe Mexico’s high regard for food explains it merry character and its unique UNESCO’S recognition as Intangible Cutural Heritage for humanity should also be seen as a lesson to follow. In any case, Mexico is definitely more than “what meets the eye” and therefore the America’s Champion for Cultural Heritage.

When it comes to choices, enjoying and learning might transform into a solo word that would describe the touristic experience in Mexico, maybe a joy-learning thing. Where else could you experience long beautiful beaches by the mountain, by the desert, by the jungle, by archaeological ruins, or by medieval fortresses? All reachable by first class touristic infrastructure, while enjoying a first-world envy type of service and the joy of the Mexican food and its wine.

On November of 2010, UNESCO granted both the Mexican and the French cuisine, its recognition as Intangible Cultural Heritage for Humanity. About the Mexican cuisine, UNESCO asserts that it is a comprehensive cultural model comprising farming, ritual practices, age-old skills, culinary techniques and ancestral community customs and manners. It is made possible by collective participation in the entire traditional food chain: from planting and harvesting to cooking and eating. It involves, unique farming methods such as milpas (rotating swidden fields of corn and other crops) and chinampas (man-made farming islets in lake areas); cooking processes such as nixtamalization (lime-hulling maize, which increases its nutritional value); and singular utensils including grinding stones and stone mortars. Of course, it considers the role of native ingredients such as varieties of tomatoes, squashes, avocados, cocoa and vanilla, which augment the basic staples. Mexican cuisine is elaborate and symbol-laden, and its knowledge and techniques express community identity, reinforce social bonds, and build stronger local, regional and national identities.

The culture of appreciating food and making it a whole nourishment experience goes from street food to famous restaurant filled streets and beyond Mexico’s own cuisine. So, not only you can find places like President Masaryk’s famous Mexico City street where you can choose Mexican food from its various regions, but also see how this country’s love for food has enriched its relationship with other cuisines and has made it possible to find in a single street, a first world class experience of almost all cuisines in the world.

But its street food is world famous. From North to South, all through its 1,969 miles long, you can eat like a god regardless of your budget. You could find yourself at the middle of the CNN Travel recommended Baja’s Ensenada market and you join the masses at the city’s fish market for fish tacos; corn tortillas piled high with battered fried halibut, shredded cabbage, pickled onions, avocado, jalapeños, and sweet-tangy crema-mayonnaise sauce. A trip stop at Guadalajara could give you the opportunity of having a shot of tequila and trying the local fast food; tortas ahogadas, with its homemade salsas and freshly prepared corn tortillas will make you forget the idea you previously had about the fast food concept. Or choose between the world of options that Mexico City offers;  from tubes of fried dough powdered with cinnamon called churros to roasted corn to carnitas and freshly squeezed fruit juices. Maybe making your mind and having some of its ubiquituous tacos al pastor, made of hunks of marinated pork topped with pineapple that are cooked gyro-style on a spit until tender, sliced off and served atop two-bite corn tortillas. Cilantro, chopped onion and a squeeze of lime make a perfect garnish.  Or find yourself at the heart of Cancun, in its fantastic food market, enjoying shrimp, marlin or huachinango’s tostadas with a Mexican beer.

So truth be told, after having a taste of a tostada with guacamole, a “dry noodle with three chilis”, a “fillet au huitlacoche”, and the original, exquisitely organic vanilla icecream, wouldn’t you be merrier?

2 Comments »

  • Geordie said:

    One of my favorite street food experiences happened in Mexico City, in the Reforma area. I don’t know it well, but I went walking down one of the long streets near the Melia, and Hilton, likely it’s a famous one for street food. I was amazed at not only the variety of the food, but the prices as well. They had ceviches, hand made blue corn tortillas (Michoacán??), all kinds of tacos with ingredients that I wasn’t familiar with being from Nayarit, and non-native. The best part was that you could get very fresh food, with purely natural ingredients and an entire meal for less than $4! That’s food in DF, likely one of the strongest culinary cities in the world, and I’ve been to Paris, NYC, London, San Francisco, Rome, etc. DF is a King among these children.

    Viva Mexico!!

  • Stephanie Schneiderman said:

    Hello! I enjoyed your comment: The culture of appreciating food and making it a whole nourishment experience goes from street food to famous restaurant filled streets. At Tia Stephanie Tours, we take curious travelers to Oaxaca to learn of the origins of Mesoamerican food, to Puebla & Veracruz to learn of the regional expressions and finally to Mexico City to learn about contemporary interpretations…a tradition of over 4,000 years! Thanks so much for highlighting the richness of Mexico’s culture and heritage–through food!

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