TPT Meets Svet­lana Alek­san­droff

Al­ready in its sec­ond edi­tion, Plants of the Mayan World, is an es­sen­tial ref­er­ence guide to plant botany of the Yu­catan penin­sula and be­yond. We talked to the au­thor to find out more be­hind the mak­ing of her book

The Playa Times Riviera Maya's English Newspaper - - Art & Culture - BY BEATRIZ LU­CAS

Orig­i­nally from Moscow, and af­ter hav­ing lived in Ver­mont, Svet­lana Alek­san­droff moved to Mexico to es­cape the cold. Her cu­rios­ity in eth­nob­otany inspired her to write a book; it be­came an ex­pres­sion of her pas­sion for pho­tog­ra­phy and botany, and some­thing oth­ers could find use in also. She has re­cently been work­ing on two gift edi­tion ref­er­ence guides com­ing out soon “Banyan Tree Na­ture Book” and “Rosewood Mayakoba Flora & Fauna”.

The Playa Times: Did you know about plants from this re­gion be­fore? Svet­lana Alek­san­droff:

In Rus­sia we use plant based medicine a lot; liv­ing here I wanted to learn what lo­cal plants I could use. I took a four-month course with the herbal­ist and sanadora María Galindo from Tu­lum. We walked in the jun­gle iden­ti­fy­ing and col­lect­ing plants, learned to make herbal ex­tracts, syrups, soaps, oint­ments. I ap­pre­ci­ated that fresh wild plants are avail­able all year here.

What did you learn while do­ing your re­search?

It is a good feel­ing to walk around and know the plants and trees you see. I dis­cov­ered marakuya and gua­n­a­bana, that I now re­ally like for their del­i­cate but in­tense fla­vors. I liked that by mix­ing oil in­fused with herbs with bees wax you make a per­fect salve. There were many more in­ter­est­ing facts, for ex­am­ple, a cot­ton flower is yel­low on the first day of bloom­ing but changes its color to dark

pink on the sec­ond day.

How much time did it take you to gather the in­for­ma­tion?

The book took about six years, and I col­lected all the ma­te­rial my­self, it was a long jour­ney. Help came dur­ing fundrais­ing for print­ing ex­penses, lo­cal busi­nesses be­came spon­sors.

In 2013, my book was one of the win­ners rep­re­sent­ing Mexico at the Gour­mand Awards in Paris. I had a chance to go the awards cer­e­mony, which was part of the an­nual Paris Cook­book Fair, a very ex­cit­ing op­por­tu­nity to see the work of the best chefs and book de­sign­ers in the world.

Where do you rec­om­mend peo­ple visit to see and find out more about plants from the area?

I en­joy vis­it­ing the Choco Story ca­cao mu­seum in Ux­mal and the orchid pav­il­ion in Xcaret. In Mexico City, there is the Mer­cado Sonora – es­sen­tially a nat­u­ral phar­macy in a big city.

For a list of selling points and the e-book ver­sion, visit Face­book/ Plants of the Mayan

World. In Playa del Car­men, the book is avail­able at Bio Nat­u­ral, on 10th Ave. and

Con­stituentes. Read the full in­ter­view on our web­site

www.the­p­lay­a­times.com

It is a good feel­ing to walk around and know the plants and trees that you see, (...) for ex­am­ple, a cot­ton flower is yel­low on the first day of bloom­ing, but changes its color to dark pink on the sec­ond day

Au­thor Plants of the Mayan World

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