Mexican Cuisine History
On July 7, 2008, San Miguel de Allende was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, what makes us very pride. Mexico insisted for many years on our gastronomy being Intangible Heritage of Humanity, because it form a mosaic and a globally unique fusion, from the pre-Columbian cuisine blended with the European ingredients, techniques and the way of preparing food in Mexico. This is how in November 16, 2010 the several “traditional cuisines of Mexico” were declared Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO!!!
Mexican food has the distinction of being one of the world’s first fusion cuisines.
Long before the “Traditional Mexican Cuisine” concept was born, our Mayans, Olmecs, Tarascan, Zapotecs, Totonacs, Toltecs ancestors fused their culinary traditions, cultures, customs and the way they cooked. Thousands of years before the Spaniards arrived, before Rome was even a village, a regional fusion cuisine was developing here.
In August 13, 1521 Tenochtitlan (the actual Mexico City) was invaded by the Spaniards, and after two years of cruel battles, when finally the city was defeated, the Spanish-Mexican cuisine fusion was born.
Many indigenous courses were accepted by the invaders and many more were lost; the ones accepted were adapted and added with ingredients brought by the Spaniards as part of their own cuisine. What is not often noted is that most of the forms of “Spanish” culture came with a strong “Middle Eastern” influence due to the Moorish rule of Spain for more than 700 years.
Mexican cuisine found in the Spanish cuisine many marvelous new ingredients and mixed them with our Mexican ingredients, this gave as a result our magnificent Mexican Cuisine. Probably one of the most valuable ingredients contribution to our cuisine was pork, an easy to feed animal bred in back yards; pork provided fat to fry, and was easier to keep safe and fresh than beef. Pork fat and pork meat matched perfectly with all the pre-Columbian ingredients.
But as many ingredients we received from other cultures many more we gave to the world as well. Can you imagine French or Swiss pastry or any desert without chocolate or vanilla? Did you ever think about Italian food without tomatoes? Thai, Indian and Chinese food without chiles? other cuisines without beans, avocado, tomatillo, pumpkin? Yes, tomato, chocolate, vanilla, chiles, and many other ingredients are the valuable gifts that we gave to the world.
Nowadays, the most common ingredients for the endless varieties of today’s Mexican Cuisine include tomato, onion, corn, maize, chiles (fresh or dry), pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, almonds, pecans, raisins, pears, peaches, apples, quince, peanuts, sesame seeds, tomatillos, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Many of these ingredients were brought by the Spaniards to our country.
The influence of the Middle East is present in several regional cuisines with numerous fruits and spices such as cinnamon, ginger, sesame seeds, cloves, cumin and nutmeg.
Mexico was again invaded in 1863, this time by France, resulting in the coronation of Maximiliano as the Emperor of Mexico. He brought with him his court and chefs, thereafter adding a touch of their cuisine to our sauces, soups and pastries, making them even more complex and unique.
The real Mexican cooking was kept in households as “Home Cooking” for special occasions and for every day cooking alike; this Home Cooking is rarely to be found in restaurants and it is nearly unknown to the actual generations, in great part due to foreign influences.
In her Ancestry Mexican cooking school, Marilau teaches this Intangible Heritage of Humanity “Home Cooking” preserving all the knowledge, the techniques, the ingredients and the methods that she inherited from her family for more than 200 years.