A cultural manifestation full of life, magic, history, and syncretism
In 2010, Mexican cuisine was declared an intangible heritage of humanity, becoming one of the only four culinary traditions under this status, along with the French, Mediterranean, and Japanese. Mexico is one of the world’s most diverse countries and each of its 32 states has unique soil, climate, nature, wildlife, and history, which results in singular identities and culinary elements and techniques.
Mexico’s traditional cuisine is a complete cultural model that integrates agricultural activities, ritual practices, techniques, ancient customs, and an enormous variety of ethnic food products. Our early gastronomy is based on a one-of-a-kind rotating cultivation system called “milpa”, where maize is the main crop, combined with elements that include different varieties of beans, peppers, tomatoes, and squash. Other native products, such as avocado, cacao, vanilla, spices, herbs, and flowers are added. Another essential component is nixtamalization, a proceeding where maize is cooked with food-grade lime, improving its taste, digestibility, and nutritional properties. From pre-Columbian Mexico, we inherited tools like the clay griddle, the metate, and the molcajete, as well as beverages and dishes, such as pulque and tejate, tamales and pozole, with all their variations and interpretations across the length and breadth of the country.
The pre-Hispanic cooking techniques and ingredients blended with products and methods from Europe. This cultural encounter resulted in the masterwork of Mexican cuisine, mole, a sauce comprised of up to 34 ingredients, which include peppers, spices, fruits, and chocolate that involves a preparation process that can take weeks. The cultural fusion brought surprising creations, such as chiles en nogada, bacalao a la vizcaína, and cochinita pibil.
Today, Mexico is a seedbed of great chefs and cooks, who have also taken into their hands the research and preservation of our culinary traditions, keeping them alive and in constant evolution. Contemporary Mexican Cuisine is diverse, sophisticated, and open to reinvention, reinterpretation, and incorporating new elements from other parts of the world. Our food is one of the best reasons to visit and travel around this extraordinary country.