Mexican chefs keeping kitchen traditions alive / Chef Mexicanos manteniendo las tradiciones vivas

Corn Products and dishesDelicious home-made corn tortillas filled with chilli sauce and grasshoppers as a starter, roasted iguana for the main course and a glass of agave liquor flavored with worms to chase it all down.

You would rarely see that on the menu of the thousands of Mexican eateries around the world. Yet they are all dishes easily found in the markets and restaurants of Mexico.

For decades, Mexican cooking has been associated with cuisine cooked in the areas bordering the US, the home of ‘Tex-Mex’ food.

But a new wave of chefs are determined to show the world real Mexican food – one that hasn’t yet made it onto menus in New York, Sydney or London.

“Unfortunately, the Mexican food served abroad is not at all like ours. There is a misperception that Tex-Mex food – burritos, chilli con carne – is part of our daily diet,” says Ricardo Munoz Zurita, a well-known chef and owner of Azul Condesa restaurant in Mexico City.

“Perhaps Mexican chefs don’t know how to export their food as well as French, Spanish or Italian cooks,” he tells the BBC.

Unesco recognised traditional Mexican cuisine as an example of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2010, helping raise its profile.

Even US First Lady Michelle Obama – who admits to being a fan of tamales, corn dough rolls often filled with meat – recently launched a campaign promoting healthier Mexican products such as beans.

But changing the outside world’s view of the country’s food will take some time, Mr Munoz Zurita says.

Restaurants offering pre-Hispanic recipes – from the era before the Spanish arrived five centuries ago – are booming in Mexico City, but have not been so successful abroad.1.

1. Ignacio de los Reyes “BBC Online” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-radio-and-tv-17154583 03-01-2012.

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