Mexico’s new age of gastronomy
Contemporary Mexican Cuisine
A rediscovery of traditional ingredients and techniques.
“Cultivate” is a word of wide meaning, on one side it reminds us of the fertility of the earth and the harvest, an activity of such importance that marked the beginning of settled civilizations, letting the tribes discover the goods that the earth, climate and animals could grant them depending on the seasons.
Each ingredient received the importance it deserved and so the people of each region created their own dishes and recipes. Once civilizations understood what nature had given them and the ways they could use its goods, the word “cultivate” started to receive another meaning; it was more than just harvesting and working the land, now it was important to cultivate the knowledge, paying attention to the methods and techniques that could be taught through generations, for subsistence depended on it.
The first civilizations that settled on the lands where today stretches the Mexican territory began to obtain the ingredients that until now remain as the principal flavors of the gastronomy of Mexico. Since then, all the way from Baja California to the Yucatan Peninsula a wide culinary diversity, as exquisite as the biodiversity of the country was created.
During the last years, Mexican gastronomy has made its way to the top of avant-garde culinary recognition, looking to place its best dishes on the eyes and mouths of the assistants of international festivals, taking out of the borders of Mexico the colors on the tables that irradiate joy and the delicacies that make of a meal an unforgettable moment with family and friends, revealing to the world the secret ingredient of Mexican cuisine, charisma.
Enrique Olvera, one of the most internationally celebrated chefs of Mexico, has been a precursor of this new age of gastronomy in Mexico and precursor of this new “cultivation”. With his acclaimed restaurant Pujol, Enrique has not only shared the joy of his dishes with his guests, he has also established a new tendency in Mexico which a lot of new chefs have followed, some of which have been considered promises of Mexican gastronomy. Under the ideals of Olvera who says: “Mexican Gastronomy shouldn’t be considered a museum gastronomy. It has in fact to evolve, looking to find the best products to discover new Mexican flavors.”
Following this trend, a lot of contemporary Mexican restaurants have turned their heads to the use of local ingredients. This has led to the differentiation of regional typical dishes, each using the unique flavors that the soil grants in the kitchen and to the discovery of new chefs that have achieved wonderful recognitions for their creations using the best of their lands and bringing back to life some culinary traditions of their grandmothers, as well as techniques of their pre-hispanic ancestors that have subsisted through generations thanks to the “cultivation”.
Eduardo Lopez, owner of the restaurant Maximo Bistrot in México City says: “I became friends with a group of chinamperos (rowers) of Xochimilco and now I ask them for products of certain portions. I choose the seasonal ingredients, such as rain mushrooms which I use a lot.”
Like Eduardo, a lot of chefs have adopted this tendency of “Think Local”, turning Mexico City into the center of avant-garde Mexican gastronomy, offering not only contemporary dishes, but also atmospheres and experiences that are revolutionizing the way of cooking, serving and tasting their creations. Ferran Adrià has been without any doubt a great teacher for a lot of Mexican Chefs that are now living the dream of having their own restaurant, some of them, were even fortunate enough to work in the kitchen of El Bulli, getting to comprehend that cooking must have a creative side to stimulate the 5 senses.
Even though Mexico City can be considered as The Mecca on this tendency, it doesn’t mean it’s the only place in Mexico where you can enjoy a top gastronomy experience. You can also visit places like Ensenada where Chef Benito Molina leads his own restaurant called Manzanilla; Villahermosa, where Aquiles Chavez is from; Playa del Carmen where recently Enrique Olvera opened his new restaurant Maiz del Mar; Cancun and Riviera Maya where once a year the Wine & Food Festival is celebrated bringing as Honored Guests some of the bests chefs of the world like Ferran Adrià and Massimo Bottura on their past editions, placing the Mexican Gastronomy and their best Chefs on the same level as Spain, Italy and France.
Without a doubt, on the following years, Mexican Gastronomy will be a table conversation starter and hopefully, a main dish topic for continuous international “cultivation”.