Today we will make controversy my dear gastronaut from #UpdateMéxico, I had been thinking whether to write these lines or keep my thoughts in my mind where they only hurt me or I have a catharsis session and I tell you what is happening with this new wave of pseudo representatives of Mexican cuisine.
There is a new movement, obviously generated by “chefs” of little renown from some groups of state cooks but to a greater extent by internationally renowned chefs who boast of being the “defenders of traditional Mexican cuisine” and assist small communities and towns to make “research” for “capture and preserve the ancient knowledge found in the minds of those hands tanned by the nixtamal lime that have found in molcajete a way to show love, based on their preparations”phrase that of course is not mine.
I heard this phrase from a chef who owns a very famous restaurant in CDMX, who not only knows how to cook, what he also knows how to do very well is to claim knowledge and capture it in his multi-award winning books, conferences, talks, classes and of course what you sell in your restaurants.
And that is not the only case, there are several chefs who hoist the flag of “protectors of Mexican cuisine” do business with the recipes that “they stole” to our traditional cooks and still has the gall to not give them credit, in many cases, they are not all, but in the vast majority of cases I have never seen them say “We owe this recipe to doña pepita from the town of tangamandapio” and worse still I have never heard say “all or a large part of the proceeds will be donated to such community or certain people”. I don’t know whether to say outrageous or what adjective to use.
And you could ask yourself, dear reader, how is it that now it occurred to you to talk about this topic? And I will answer:
It turns out that during the week, doing my daily work, on twitter, I found a small complaint from a journalist named María Inés Zamudio, who in her tweet expressed, I quote:
“Tired of white chefs going to Oaxaca and other states in Mexico, learning how to prepare delicious food with the ladies, and then coming back to write a book or present on television. Those ladies should be paid properly. pay up”.
This message was what powerfully caught my attention and I remembered what I had heard from the chef I mentioned earlier and I investigated briefly, not because I did not want to delve deeper into the matter, but because I only needed to read his bibliography and in none of his publications I found gratitude (at least) and much less some legend of “I will donate the profits to…”, nothing, only his big name to go down in posterity as the great defender of Mexican gastronomy.
This becomes a reality at the national level, the necessary credits are not given to the people from whom one learns, with this I believe that a social structure is very necessary where the communities that transmit culinary wealth are more recognized in Mexico and at a national level and world, and not just stay in 4 or 5 dishes that do not represent the culinary reality of our country or as a certain mockery get up tortilla with chili, cheese and cream.
The question would be, what if these chefs who make a commercial profit, somehow allocate “the part that corresponds to them” to the communities from which they draw their knowledge and which they offer as currency?
I personally believe that it would open a door for the general public to learn about the work that originates in these often unknown territories and would give rise to promoting said local market for the benefit of the community.
It is imperative that they are given the respect that our traditional cooks deserve and their recipes must be replicated without unnecessary artistic inventions or tropicalizations.
Some reflection that I remember having written in another article, but I don’t remember which one.
We boast of having a very important gastronomic culture, even emphasizing UNESCO, which declared Mexican cuisine cultural and intangible heritage of humanity, but the reality is that although ours, we have not done anything. It belongs to our ancestors who have fought their own battles and gastronomy itself, as a separate entity it has found a way to survive and maintain itself, but what have you done for Mexican cuisine?
Chefs who are educated the French way (myself included) or who go abroad to the American Culinary Institute and return to town to “deconstruct” to “taco pleasure”, which proclaim themselves the new wave of Mexican gastronomy or the mafias of magazines and awards call them “the best of this or that”.
It is very necessary that national chefs also learn to study the gastronomy of our country, creating a “collective effort” (I emphasize and underline) for preserving the roots of a millenary culture that are in the hands of the hundreds of traditional cooks who, with the sweat of their brows, have brought forward a gastronomy that, although connoisseurs say is ONE of the most important of the world, let us remember that when we have the opportunity to leave the country, we will always miss a good plate of rice with mole.
Until next time.