Madrid Fusion Day Two – Culinary Anthropology – Pre-Hispanic Mexico

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Continuing the theme of what is very old is new again, the second presentation was from Bricio Domínguez, from the restaurants El Jardiín de los Milagros and Ocho Reales in Guanajuato, Mexico. Dominguez is a chef that I had not previously been familiar with. His charge for this presentation was to focus on pre-Hispanic Mexican cooking. Modern day Mexican cooking incorporates many influences, including a number from Europe, Africa and Asia. While almost everyone is aware of the contributions that Mexican and other New World cultures provided to the world like corn, potatoes, tomatoes and chiles, all still widely incorporated in contemporary Mexican cuisine, fewer are aware that pre-Hispanic Mexican cooking does not include many items present in contemporary cooking such as beef, pork, chicken, and others.

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Bricio Dominguez holding up a jicama

While those currently omnipresent meats were unavailable in Mexico before the arrival of the Spaniards, other meats were, including birds such as ducks and turkeys, deer, armadillos and yes, insects, which remain a significant part of Mexican cuisine.

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Dominguez prepared two dishes, neither of which were the ones for which the Congress provided recipes. The first one he made was a huarache, a name derived from a type of Mexican sandal because of its footprint like shape. Contemporary huaraches are usually made with tortillas and a variety of ingredients. Dominguez' huarache used a nopal cactus leaf as the "sole" and filled it with corn, chiles, gusanos (worms) and other ingredients all pre-dating the Spanish arrival in Mexico.

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Dominguez explaing the components of his huarache

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Grinding chiles in a molcajete to add to his huarache

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His second dish focused on using duck, a bird native to Mexico and familiar to most. For this dish, in addition to the duck, Dominguez used a protein source quite familiar to pre-Hispanic Mexicans, escamoles or ant eggs. Along with these he utilized mango, jicama, piloncillo, a Mexican sugar preparation, and other ingredients to come up with a modern interpretation of pre-hispanic Mexican cooking such as he serves at his most recent restaurant Ocho Reales.

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Cooking Mango, Jicama and Escamoles

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Presenting the dish along with a halved gourd used as a drinking cup

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One Response to Madrid Fusion Day Two – Culinary Anthropology – Pre-Hispanic Mexico

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