What is 21st Century Mexican Cuisine?

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Welcome to GlobalEAT, the Global Eat and Travel Network featuring food connection to people and places.

I'm Agnes Chung.

Our special guest today is Chef Betty Vasquez, Culinary Ambassador for Riviera Nayarit and judge for the first ever MasterChef Mexico.

Tell me a little bit about Mexican gastronomy.

Mexican gastronomy, you have to think that we were a pre-Columbian people, that we have our way of cooking and then we were conquered by the Spanish people, but they were conquered before by Turkish people, and they were ruled by the Turkish and the Ottomans for a hundred years so that means the information of gastronomy of the Middle East was getting into the Spanish culture and then the Spanish culture and then the Spanish culture came into Mexico.

So pre-Colombian Spanish plus Ottoman and Turkish.

And then we were ruled by the French people with Emperor Maximilian, and he came from a House of Austro-Hungarian background, which was the richest and the heaviest gastronomy of the East Europe.

So we have pre-Columbian, we have Spanish we have Middle East cooking in between plus the Hungarian-Austrian balancing.

But after that by the coast on San Blas where I live, it was the last port of call for the Spanish Crown, and thru that port of San Blas came the China trade.

That means all the flavours from China, Philippines, India.

came, and when through San Blas to go through Mexico because the meaning of the discovery of America.

it was especially because of the spices.

So all the spices that were brought from Orient came through Mexico in order to go to Europe.

And you know that some of the spices were left behind.

So the riches part of our gastronomy is not only the pre-Columbian, which means corn, the squashes, tomatoes, chillies, those are harvest in the cornfield and that's the root of our cuisine.

that's why we are called children of the corn, but also it's a mixture of many many cultures.

And when you'd think.

and people are start saying.

we find a new definition about food and cuisine, and they start calling fusion cuisine, I say, you know, fusion cuisine has been there for ages, for at least three or four hundred years.

maybe we didn't call it that way, maybe it was not as fast as it is today because of communication but, people were brave enough to travel.

from Europe to America and from Orient to America.

bringing techniques, bringing flavours, bringing ingredients, bringing ways of cooking to enrich one big country, which is Mexico.

So when the Spanish food mix with the pre-Columbian in the monasteries and in the convents, we have a 'comida conventual', from 'comida conventual', we have the moles, the 'pipianes', some sweets that are done with fruit and techniques that were brought from Spain, like.

they brought almonds, oranges the almonds came from the Turkish side, so you see.

It is a mixture of ingredients and it is a mixture of techniques because people start travelling in bringing their own way of cooking.

So, Mexico, it depends where you go, you will find the differences of these cuisines, and the New Mexican cuisine, it is based and grounded on this past in order to do the modern cuisine without forgetting heritage, but with the new techniques that.

is developing now in the cuisines of the world.

What are some of the signature Mexican cuisine? Well, I think that when, when you are looking for a signature Mexican cuisine, you have to think moles, because moles are the basic of.

Our cuisine, and I'm going to explain why.

Mole Nahuatl, which was the Aztec language, means sauce, 'molete', that's the real.

'molete', means sauce, but moles are found in.

In every state.

Of our country The most well known two states for moles are Oaxaca, and Puebla.

But, my hometown San Blas in the state of Nayarit has one mole that's call Pipián, that's made with pumpkin seeds, some tomatoes,.

'juahita' chilies, it makes it, lighter because we are in a warm temperature land, and the quality of the dirt there is different.

Interesting, now what are some of the signature dishes of Nayarit? I could say the most important dishes of Nayarit is our 'aguachile', which is marinated seafood with a mixture of lime juice, chilies, cucumber and some water,.


And cilantro.

And then you have cebiches, which is fish marinated with some veggies to make a starter.

You have a smoked fish, you have Pescado Zarandeado.

Pescado Zarandeado, it is a fish that you put in a grill,.

But, we call this from the grill.

When you have to turn down 'zarandear', because we call this grill, 'zarada', so that the dancing of changing and turning the fish is called 'zarandeado'.

We have.

turnovers especially made with corn dog that has some peppers inside dried chllies pureed with the corn dog.

We have 'tlaxtihuille', which is a special fish sauce.

It's not a fish sauce, it's a shrimp sauce that becomes.

Soup, that's pre-hispanic soup.

We have tamales, tamales is a corn dog filled up with some shrimp or beef or pork cut,.

And covered in a husk and than steam it.

We have different kinds of desserts, made first from pre-Columbian, just dried fruit, and then when the Spanish came, they brought sugarcane, so we start doing other kinds of sweets.

So we have those of the cocoa, those are the 'cajeta', those are the 'camote'.


We have a special drinks made by corn.

That's call 'tejuino'.

And we have.

a drink that comes from the root of a palm, that is call 'tuba'.


There are.

One of the most exquisite cheeses in Mexico comes from the state of Nayarit, we call it 'panela aureala, which means it is a fresh cheese.

That it is dry, but in the high mountains.

On the caves, so it becomes, I could say.

Like a very fine Brie.

So, what's your favourite dish? What is my favourite dish? It is like having five children and having to decide for one.

That is a very bad question, Agnes.


It's not fair.

I really love raw food.

I really love raw food, so I could say 'cebiches' and 'aguachiles' are one of my favourites.

I like 'tlaxtihuille' the pre-hispanic soup, I.

I told you about with shrimp.

I like smoked fish a lot, I like simple food, I think fine food doesn't have to be very complicated.

It has to be made to perfection, with the freshest ingredients.

When you have a fresh fish, and you open the fish, it's not the white meat that gleams.

That shines.

But there is like a blue colour of the meat because it's.

Full of life, so that means it very fresh, very very fresh.

I think sustainable cooking.

It involves many people, but it can be done.

It can be done.

You support the community around your area.

, and I promised myself long long time ago that I wouldn't cook with ingredients that has been travelling more than 100 kilometres because I do believe, that means they were caught maybe the day before or two or three days before and they have been in a warehouse, and then they will bring home, and then you have to pay for the transportation, you pollute the area because.

You are having a 100 kilometres car polluting.

so you have to be responsible for your cooking.

You have to be proud, but also you have to be intelligent.

You have to look for the future.

You have to.

to have to be envisaged a 100 kilometres away or 100 years away.

What am I going to left for the children? What am I going to left for the people of my hometown? I want them to learn how to be sustainable, and I want them to learn how to be able.

To be proud of their job, and they don't have to leave.

Because they have no job, or they don't have to break their families because the father has to leave to.

Maybe, the closest bigger city, and maybe see them only on weekends.

I think if we have, as most simple, and you throw a little stone, you are responsible for the waves.

To go around, and if you throw it on the right place, you are making a special effect.

And it'll pay back.

Maybe I won't see it, which, it's OK.

But, I know I have started the movement, and I have started the fruit of a good movement for the next generation.

Thank you very much My pleasure.

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