Corn, beans, and chili peppers. These three pre-Hispanic foods are the foundation on which the exquisite monument of Mexican food was built and has since 2010 held the UNESCO title of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Dedicated lovers of this complex cuisine know that its wide variety of ingredients does not stop there, and we owe much of it to cultural fusion.
The phenomenon of blending a dish representative of one culture with ingredients and preparation methods of another to result in a food that is both innovative and familiar to the palate may seem recent. But let’s not forget that many national cuisines are the product of contact between cultures. For example, the exalted Italian pasta owes itself to Chinese noodles and new world tomatoes
As mentioned, the base of the pre-Hispanic diet was corn, beans, and chili peppers, as well as the meat of small animals (rabbit, turkey, fish, etc.), tomato, avocado and, of course, cocoa. Unfortunately, the recipes for these foods are largely unknown to us, since colonization resulted in a large loss of indigenous records.
A culinary marriage
The arrival of the Spanish brought with it wheat, rice, pepper, sheep, pigs, an endless array of products that, when combined with the fruits of the American lands, gave way to Mexican food. Without that culinary marriage, what would our pozole taste like, would we miss the requisite pinch of oregano? How would our chile en nogada have come about without those Augustinian nuns and their walnuts from Castilla? With what flour would we make our tasty conchas? I can’t even begin to fathom what meats would fill our tacos!
Therefore, before following a trend, let’s ask ourselves if the future is old fashioned or if the past was innovative?
Mexican fusion food? No, just Mexican food!