If today we have the most delicious recipes of Mexican gastronomy, it is thanks to those women who have kept them in their memory and hearts from generation to generation. We refer to traditional cooks, whose recipe book is embroidered in his soul.
We had the opportunity to talk with Concepción Contreras, a traditional cook from the State of Puebla, and with David Camacho, Founder of Mexicano Masaryk, whose testimony has helped us to learn about the history and flavors with which traditional cooks represent an entire nation.
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Traditional cooks: flavors that go from generation to generation
What does it mean to you to be one of the traditional Mexican cooks?
Conception: I feel very proud and satisfied to have learned from my grandmother, my mother, my aunts.
I was struck by learning to be part of what my grandmother knew how to do. Because the truth is, she was a very good cook. I am happy and proud to know about our family’s legacy.
What are your favorite recipes and how did you learn them?
Conception: it was what I saw my aunts and grandmother doing, yes, without measurements, just calculating.
My favorite dish is mole, chalupitas, chiles en nogada, pipián, green mole, encacahuatado. In itself, the poblano molitos.
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So how many moles can you make?
Conception: well there are many. There is the adobito, the pipián, the encacahuatado, the almendrado. They are the most traditional that I know how to prepare.
In addition to the typical Mexican ingredients, what difference do you find in Mexican cuisine from other cuisines?
Conception: In all the states of the Republic, each one has their own, their traditions and that the recipes are also very rich. Each state stews differently and is delicious.
Why is it important to recognize the work of traditional cooks?
Conception: We bring the tradition of our grandmothers, our mother, our aunts. We did not learn with books, or anything, if not with the tradition that our ancestors brought.
What message would you leave to Mexican diners about food made by traditional cooks?
Conception: I would like you to try the traditional dishes. Right now the youth no longer know how to eat, they go to fast food.
Try the stews, eat different and traditional things from all the States of the Republic. They are all good and very tasty.
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Traditional cooks help us rediscover Mexican gastronomy
Why is it important to recognize traditional cooks?
David: traditional cooks can determine the cultural identity of a region through their dishes, and thus, establish a social behavior that we can see in different manifestations:
Gastronomy determines the character of a region through its festivals such as weddings or baptisms, and this is to preserve the culture, through the oral transmission of recipes that are inherited from generation to generation.
And not only the recipes: also the culinary techniques and the history of each dish.
Besides traditional cooks, what other people benefit from your work?
David: First of all, the diners. We believe, in the first instance, that it is the traditional cooks who benefit from our consumption, but it is the other way around.
Thanks to them, we enjoy the experience of being in contact with the traditions, the ingredients of the place of origin and the original flavors of the dishes.
Of course, many other people also benefit: producers, means of transport, micro or small local businesses.
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What recipes have you discovered thanks to traditional cooks?
David: more than discovering, it was a rediscovery of the dishes that I have lived, like the uchepos. Although I have also been able to try another variety of dishes, such as the Atapakua broth, the papadzules and the chicken pibi.
What message would you convey to Mexican diners?
David: that they dare to try other Mexican dishes that are not so well known.
Suddenly, there is a guide to traditional Mexican food that is very popular (such as pozole), and there are other delicious dishes that are endemic that you also have to try.
It is the best of traditional Mexican food: you do not finish knowing it.
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