The mouthwateringly diverse cuisine of Mexico is so exceptional that it has earned one of the most highly regarded titles available, awarded a spot on the exclusive representative list of UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2010. Established with the goal of bringing awareness to the significance of various intangible cultural heritages while ensuring that they are preserved, UNESCO is doing everything it can to safeguard these cultural treasures throughout the world so that these traditions may continue for generations to come. The traditional Mexican cuisine is a perfect example of a part of a culture that cannot be preserved in physical form and displayed in a museum; it must therefore be passed on to the next generation and carefully maintained.
Mexican Cuisine Worthy of UNESCO protection
The traditional food found throughout Mexico is based on time-honored customs as well as an entire lifestyle which includes farming, performing rituals, long-established skills, culinary techniques, customs and manners unique to each community passed down from their ancestors. Before modern society and its readily available bounty of food found at the local supermarket was possible, nearly everyone in a community was somehow involved in the traditional food chain, participating in activities from planting, to harvesting, to cooking and finally to eating the delicious results of their labor.
The customary diet of Mexico was established based on crops such as beans, corn and chilis. Distinctive farming techniques including chinampas (man-made farming islets found in lake regions) and milpas (rotating swidden fields which grow corn and other crops) are efficient for growing. Conventional tools and utensils such as grinding stones and stone mortars are still a cherished part of food preparation rituals in Mexico, while traditional cooking processes such as nixtamalization, which increases the nutritional value of lime-hulled maize, are also used.
Ingredients grown throughout many regions of the country which enhance the principal staples of the diet include avocados, cocoa, a variety of squashes, tomatoes and vanilla. The elaborate Mexican cuisine is often integrated into cultural celebrations, including corn-based foods such as tamales and tortillas being offered during Day of the Dead festivities.
The traditional foods of Mexico are still being created and customs still upheld in regions all over the country, where groups of passionate cooks and farming communities devote themselves to its continuation. The immense knowledge and abilities of these individuals and their communities reinforce social bonds and form community identity to build powerful connections on local, regional and national levels.
Treat yourself to some of the traditional Mexican dishes this amazing country is known for and celebrate its achievement as a cuisine on UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list.