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Oaxaca food treasure: gastronomy and culinary richness

Oaxaca is a highly diverse territory. This diversity derives from its cultural and gastronomic richness. Find out why there is such good food in Oaxaca and why it is a treasure to take care of for the future.

It is no secret that Mexicans like to eat, and it is certainly difficult to deny the pleasures of a cuisine recognized worldwide. But, especially in Oaxaca, some factors have made it a region extremely endowed with culinary treasures. Oaxaca and its gastronomy hold flavors so exotic and mysterious, but what is the reason for such diversity?

Mexican food: Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

Mexican cuisine.

In 2010, UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) recognized Mexican gastronomy as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. This recognition was an effort by Mexican diplomats to give place to the culinary culture of the country.

What does it mean that the cuisine of a country is recognized as a Cultural Heritage? Well, that in that particular gastronomy is kept a knowledge properly human and therefore very valuable. This recognition was given to Mexican food for these reasons:

•             It’s ancestral: This is the most important point. Mexican food preserves in its main ingredients and techniques a testimony of the history of humanity. Chiles, corn, and beans are the basis of gastronomy and are species that were domesticated thousands of years ago. That is, in Mexican cuisine part of the history of the domestication of species is preserved. In turn, the use of griddles, metates, and clay pots speaks to ancient methods of preparing food. Looking at the elements of Mexican cuisine we find part of the history of humanity.

•             It is an element of identity: On the other hand, Mexicans recognize themselves with their food. This may be because originally many dishes had a ritual sense. For whatever reason, the truth is that most Mexicans feel a strong pride in the traditional dishes of their land.

•             Its diversity: Finally, in Mexico, there are unique combinations of flavors in the world. For example, the mole containing chocolate, chiles, and seeds (depending on the type of mole are used differently) to create a salsa that can be quite spicy even though chocolate in most of the world is a sweet flavor.

For these reasons, Mexican cuisine was given that honor. Although it is also worth noting that in Mexico there were many different cultures and although almost all of them fed mainly on corn, beans, and chili, each culture had its original dishes. This diversity is especially abundant in Oaxaca.

Why does Oaxaca have such good food?

Mole a dish that represents Oaxaca food treasure

Oaxaca among all the states of Mexico is recognized for its excellent cuisine. Even in many other states, some restaurants cook typical Oaxacan dishes and are liked by many. But why is Oaxaca in particular a culinary treasure?

Oaxaca is a land rich in many respects. Oaxaca has seas, rivers, mountains, and valleys, in the territory there are different types of climate that give rise to a large number of species typical of the state. Oaxaca is recognized as a leader in the domestication of species. This biological diversity has a great variety of ingredients.

On the other hand, in Oaxaca, there are at least 13 different indigenous peoples (there are 3 peoples that are not recognized today by the Secretariat of Cultural Information of Mexico). This means that there are different cultures in the territory and that each one has come to have different preparations with the same ingredients. Each culture has its recipes, dishes, and rituals around the food.

The sum of cultural diversity with cultural diversity is what has led Oaxaca to be a great gastronomic exponent. Therefore, Oaxaca and its gastronomy is an intricate and wonderful kaleidoscope that gives rise to incomparable flavors in the world.

Why are pre-Hispanic food preserved in Oaxaca?

Oaxaca food treasure is also prehispanic food

In Mexico, food has a strong cultural dimension. Mexicans are proud of their typical dishes. Oaxaca being such a diverse region in cultures and gastronomy is not far behind. The inhabitants of Oaxaca have distinguished themselves by making continuous efforts to preserve their roots, from their languages to their cuisine.

In January 2008, the LX Legislature of the Local Congress named Pre-Hispanic Oaxacan cuisine Intangible Cultural Heritage. This was the initiative of the government of the state of Oaxaca and as a result, efforts have been made to promote traditional dishes and preparations.

Abigail Mendoza is a chef of Zapotec origin who has strived to preserve the traditional recipes and preparations of her people. In Teotitlán del Valle, Oaxaca, it has a restaurant in which it seeks to serve natural dishes, traditionally made by hand because it is honoring an ancient tradition. Abigail believes that when eating you must be in contact with the Earth, she says: “Thanks to Mother Earth we have food”.

Conclusions on Oaxaca and its gastronomy

Oaxaca food treasure of diverse dishes and flavors

Oaxaca is a land rich in many aspects. As far as Oaxaca and its gastronomy are concerned, we are facing a millennial culinary treasure. In general, Mexican food is an intangible cultural heritage of humanity, but especially in Oaxaca, due to its diversity of ingredients and cultures, dishes with incomparable flavors that are worthy of international appreciation and recognition have been achieved.

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