MEXICO.- The mole, the stuffed chiles, the tostadas and huaraches, the mushroom or marrow soup, the pozole and all the classic dishes of Mexican gastronomy that positioned the food of this country as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity For just over a decade they have had competition and variety in recent years.
Mexican cuisine is getting a makeover.
Proof of this is now the pumpkin omelette, the yellow nopales, the huitlacoche tetelas, the suffering cake, the corn mole, the green pozole with beans, the colorful tlatonile and hundreds of other recipes.
This year, the Mexican State called the contest “What does the homeland taste like”To register its new flavors after 500 years of the arrival of the Spanish, of the indigenous resistance and two centuries after the independence that are fulfilled this month of September.
The result was a revelation. While the gastronomic fame went around the world for the recognition of the UN in 2010, cooks of the country did not remain asleep on their laurels. Quite the opposite. In the day-to-day experimentation they have transformed old recipes or experimented with new proposals without leaving behind the ancestral roots of traditional ingredients.
Corn, cocoa, amaranth, chili, beans, tomato, pumpkin, nopal, maguey, vanilla, avocado, quelites, soursop, insects, worms, maguey, seeds, flowers … Anything goes in the Mexican kitchen: What does the homeland taste like He received 565 recipes, many of them written by indigenous people who, individually or alone, decided to share their inventions.
The truth is that the evolution of food has its epicenter in the communities of the main ethnic groups: Mayas, Cuicatecos, Nahuatl, Zapotecs, Mixtecos, Otomíes, Totonacos, Chinantecos, Tseltales, Mixes, Mazatecos, Tsotsiles, Chontales, Mazahua, Purépechas, Huaves, Amuzgos and Tarahumara.
“What is known about Mexican cuisine is just the tip of the iceberg of what is made in the country,” said Secretary of Culture Alejandra Frausto, who promoted the contest that was based on the Los Pinos Cultural Complex, the house where presidents of the country lived, from Miguel Alemán to Enrique Peña Nieto, before the current president Andrés Manuel López Obrador turned it into a cultural interior.
Right there, where it is intended to teach the art of Mexican gastronomy with the establishment of “Cencalli, the House of Corn and Food Culture”, gastronomy specialists analyzed the 565 recipes sent in videos, selected 15 of them and these were cooked for be voted.
In the end, there were two of the most beloved: one for the individual recipe category and one for the collective recipe. One from the state of Tlaxcala; the other, from Hidalgo. Both from central Mexico and of indigenous origin.
Teresa Solís López, from Tlaxcala, won as the most representative Mexican dish in the country at this moment with a surprising recipe for its simplicity: purple corn that her husband produces in the field, ayocotes (large colored beans), white sugar and cinnamon that, to accompany it, uses salt bread.
In an interview, he said that he thought about this traditional drink that few knew outside of his municipality, but that, in his view, represented a lot the culture of the celebration of corn since it was served at special times for its inhabitants, such as festivals. municipal.
For its preparation, the corn has to be shelled, fermented and with water the ingredients that have already been powdered are combined and put on the fire, which has to be in an oven with charcoal, and it is stirred until the adequate consistency and purple color are achieved. .
“I never thought that something so traditional would be on everyone’s lips now.”
As the Homeland is also often complicated, there are new highly elaborate dishes such as the one based on the xincoyote (a kind of lizard) stuffed with escamoles (ant egg) and palm flower in corn leaf.
This stew was brought to light by the Otomi cooks Claudia Hernández, Martha Gómez, Porfiria Rodríguez and Cecilia Aldana who for generations watched carefully their grandmothers and mothers preparing the sauces, stewing the nopales, smelling the spices that seasoned the dish.
The women revealed that they decided on the xincoyote recipe because in the region it is known as “the meat of the poor.” since a slingshot is enough to make a small animal that grows wild among the mountains and rocks. Until a few decades ago, it was also easy to get escamoles just by following the trail of the ants until they became a dish of Mexican haute cuisine for export.
“We were happy when we were very young when we went to eat a xincayote,” said Porfiria Rodríguez and revealed that they also had many recipes with squirrels and skunks in the pipeline.
“We want to teach the new generations do not forget everything that is in their roots.”
The xincoyote always bleeds, it is put on ashes and with a knife the scales are removed, once it is clean it is opened and the visors are removed and it is washed very well. It is varnished with dried chili, garlic and onion in the molcajete to enchilarlo, it is put on corn leaves, it is with the sauce and we fill it with raw escamoles and palm flowers, with tomato slices, oregano and salt to taste.
Simple and sophisticated
Current Mexican gastronomy plays between the simple and the complicated. Among other sophisticated preparations is the recipe for Roasted maguey flower on stalk with chinicuiles (worms) although Inés Monroy, its author, said that she only had to look at the maguey to find everything.
“There were the flowers, the root and the chinicuiles: mother nature gives us food.”
For the preparation, he removed the stems from the flowers, added chambray onion and parsley. With this he made a paste that he placed on the maguey stalk, added roasted chinicuiles and rolled everything up like a tamale. This cooked for 40 minutes. The final touch was a xoconoxtle sauce (acid tuna).
“The most exciting, vibrant, captivating and seductive food that exists on Earth is here in Mexico“Said Tom Parker Bowles, English food critic and writer. “The secret of its renewal and improvement is due to the fact that its creators not only have dishes, but also passion, creativity, warmth and direct contact with their environment.”
In the case of chinicuiles, for example, the worms are collected in the central states of the country, where magueys are abundant. They are consumed in tacos, fried or roasted on the comal. In the markets they are sold dry, strung on threads or alive. In some areas they are used to make salt or to add a touch of flavor to bottles of mezcal.
In Hidalgo they are sold alive and in large quantities on the outskirts of Pachuca, the capital; they are also sold in Tlaxcala and in the State of Mexico. Fresh they can be preserved, frozen or dried indefinitely.
But for complex dishes, nothing like mole. The old recipe is one of the riskiest in the history of Mexican food and continues to evolve. Calpan mole is one of the most avant-garde presentations: for its preparation you need mulato and pasilla chili, sesame, peanut, almond, ripe bananas of two varieties (tabasco and macho), chipotle chili, raisins, anise, oil, butter, sesame, peanut, almonds and even burnt tortilla.
On the comales, the chilies are roasted and then put to soak; the sesame is also roasted. Besides, in a saucepan with oil, fry the other ingredients. The tortillas are burned over direct heat like garlic and at the end everything is ground. The pasta is emptied into the casserole and it has to be stirred until it acquires the consistency of mole: it can be up to two hours and two more to cook the meat.
On the other side of the hard work of mole, Mexican cuisine can also be affordable without losing the touch of deliciousness. Chicken nugget, for example, is based on hand-ground pumpkin seed fresh from the stove, which is squeezed to extract its oil and form meatballs that are later incorporated into a seasoned broth.
In the contest What does the country taste like, Addi María Ay Che, cook from Chichimilá, Yucatán, became a finalist with this recipe in which several members of the Puc Ay family participated, of which Addi is the leader of the Mayan community.
The reinvention of Mexican gastronomy begins in the towns, with people like Carmen Cruz, originally from Yalajón, Chiapas, with her recipe for Ch’umil waj (pumpkin omelette); Cleotilde Velasco, from San Bartolomé Zoogocho, Oaxaca, with her Yellow cactus dish; Inés Monroy, from Chilcuautla, Hidalgo, with her maguey flower roasted with chinicuiles.
All officially recognized.
Dulce María Guerrero, from Iztapalapa, Mexico City, with the Tetelas de huitlacoche; Karla María Castro, from San Luis Potosí, with the Pan xólotl; Nereo Pérez, originally from Zapotitlán de Méndez, Puebla, with his recipe for Tajyouilispa Torta (Cake of Suffering); Roberto Hernández, from Zitácuaro, Michoacán, with his Corn Mole for the Gods.
With María Teresa Solís, from Ixtenco, Tlaxcala, with her purple corn atole; Itzel Cecilia Rivera, from Silacayoapan, Oaxaca, with the Pozole verde dish and Elodia Gómez, from Santiago Ayuquililla, Oaxaca, with her bean Pipián.
Yesenia Montero, originally from Tixtla, Guerrero, with the recipe for Tlatonile de colorines; Brenda Canto, from San Andrés Calpan, Puebla, with the Mole de Calpan dish; Cecilia Aldana, from Santiago de Anaya, Hidalgo, with the Xincoyote stuffed with escamoles and palm flower in corn husk.
Daniel Alberto García, from Santa Lucía del Camino, Oaxaca, with his lunch or butler invitation and Addi María Ay Ché, from Chichimilá, Yucatán, with the recipe for Kaaxil sikil (Chicken Nugget).
Among all the states, Oaxaca leads the greatest variety and taste for the exploration of gastronomy, for taking it further.
Cleotilde Velasco, originally from San Bartolomé Zoogocho, a community in the Sierra Norte, says that her Yellow recipe for nopales was inherited from her grandmother. “I like to cook, in my community we use the products that we grow and harvest in our plots, including corn, nopales, tomatoes and different herbs that add aroma to the stews.”
With those simple ingredients she sneaked into the finalists of This is how the country knows At 67, like Elodia Gómez, 87, originally from Santiago Ayuquililla, Mixteca region, who proposed a bean Pipián (pumpkin seeds).
Luckily, her granddaughter entered her in the contest and now that recipe has spread to all of Mexico, where it will be popularized from the Mixtec region for future generations.
The Mixtec region has given much to Mexican gastronomy in the past and in the present.
Itzel Cecilia Rivera, from Silacayoapan, also from the Mixteca region, recorded a green Pozole. “It is a recipe that, at a party or stewardship, they prepare up to 15 pots,” says the 21-year-old cook, in addition, she remembers that from a young age she already helped clean garlic, devein and toast chili peppers.
For her it is important to unify and take care of the ingredients, as well as to be rooted in the traditions. “I am excited to bring the name of my people to more corners of the country.”
In the collective category, Daniel Alberto García Rojas from Santa Lucía del Camino, Valles Centrales, proposed a lunch or butler invitation, a sample of the celebrations where they serve bread such as butter or egg yolk, as well as emblematic drinks and dishes. “We include a meal that represents the 52 parties we celebrate throughout the year.”
They combine the knowledge of cooks who have learned their recipes from generation to generation and of those who are invited to cook at festivals or mayordomías.
“We respect the use of ingredients, techniques and times of traditional cuisine; processes that we share in the video recorded by a production company in Mexico City and with which we will participate in the votes that will choose the winner of this category ”.
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