Tra­di­tional Mex­i­can Recipes Fight the Good Fight

La Semana - - FRONT PAGE / PORTADA -

In a clay pot, Araceli Márquez mixes tiny Mex­i­can fresh­wa­ter fish known as char­ales with herbs and a sauce made of chili pep­pers, green toma­toes and prickly pear cac­tus fruit, pre­par­ing a dish called mix­mole.

“I learned how to cook by ask­ing peo­ple and ex­per­i­ment­ing,” the 55-year-old di­vorced mother of two told IPS. “The in­gre­di­ents are nat­u­ral, from this area. It’s a way to eat nat­u­ral food, and to fight obe­sity and dis­ease.”

Mix­mole, which is green­ish in color and has a dis­tinc­tive flavour and a strong aroma that fills the air, is one of the tra­di­tional dishes of the town of San Andrés Mixquic, in Tlahuac, one of the 16 bor­oughs into which Mex­ico City, whose metropoli­tan re­gion is home to 21 mil­lion peo­ple, is di­vided.

Márquez be­longs to a co­op­er­a­tive named “Life and death in Tlahuac- her­itage and tourist route”ded­i­cated to gas- tron­omy and eco­tourism. The in­gre­di­ents of their prod­ucts and dishes, which are based on recipes handed down over the gen­er­a­tions, come from lo­cal farm­ers.

An­other dish on her menu is tlapique – a tamale (sea­soned meat wrapped in corn­meal dough) filled with fish, chili pep­pers, prickly pear cac­tus fruit, epa­zote (Dyspha­ni­aam­bro­sioides) – a com­mon spice in Mex­i­can cook­ing – and xo­conos­tles (Opun­ti­a­jo­conos­tle), an­other kind of cac­tus pear native to Mex­ico’s deserts.

“We are try­ing to show peo­ple th­e­lo­cal cul­ture and cui­sine.The re­sponse has been good, peo­ple like what we of­fer,” said Márquez, who lives in the town of San Bar­tolo Ameyalco, in Tlahuac, which is on the south­east side of Mex­ico City.

Márquez’s meals re­flect the wealth of Mex­i­can cui­sine and the grow­ing ef­forts to de­fend and pro­mote it, in this Latin Amer­i­can coun­try of 122 mil­lion peo­ple, which is one of the world’s fat­test coun­tries, mean­ing di­a­betes, hy­per­ten­sion, car­diac and stom­ach ail­ments are ma­jor prob­lems.

Tra­di­tional Mex­i­can cui­sine, on the United Na­tions Ed­u­ca­tional, Sci­en­tific and Cul­tural Or­gan­i­sa­tion’s Rep­re­sen­ta­tive List of the In­tan­gi­ble Cul­tural Her­itage since 2010, re­volves around corn, beans and chili pep­pers, sta­ples used by native peoples long be­fore the ar­rival of the Span­ish con­quis­ta­dors in the 16th cen­tury.

The lo­cal diet was en­riched by the con­tri­bu­tions of the in­vaders, and is now rich in veg­eta­bles, herbs and fruit – a mul­ti­cul­tural mix of aro­mas, flavours, nu­tri­ents, vi­ta­mins and min­er­als.

Mex­ico’s world-renowned cui­sine is a sig­nif­i­cant part of this coun­try’s at­trac­tion for tourists.

To cite a few ex­am­ples of the rich culi­nary her­itage, there are 200 va­ri­eties of native chili pep­pers in Mex­ico, 600 recipes that use corn, and 71 dif­fer­ent kinds of mole sauce.

But this culi­nary wealth ex­ists along­side the epi­demic of obe­sity caused by the pro­lif­er­a­tion of so­das and other pro­cessed food high in added fats and sweet­en­ers. (IPS)

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