Food wise, Mexico has an incredible amount of variety to offer the gourmet traveller, and whilst Oaxaca is known as the culinary capital of Mexico, there are a number of distinct regions with their own unique dishes, celebrating native produce, forming a base of traditional Mexican recipes that have been handed down over generations. Whilst there are understandably some influences from America, notably in cuisines in the North of the country, as well as significant influences from the Spanish who of course infiltrated Mexico, bringing animal husbandry and butchery with them, in fact the majority of Mexican cuisine is just that: Mexican. Provenance of some of the more notorious dishes such as the burrito can be ambiguous and most Mexicans will tell you the burrito is an American invention, whereas the taco (perhaps surprisingly), is an entirely Mexican staple. Signature ingredients include chilli (of course), achiote, lime, coriander, rice, eggs, avocado, corn flour, maize flour, beef, pork and chicken. However, as I discovered on a recent trip to San Miguel De Allende via Mexico City, there are many more styles of preparation and ingredients to explore, ranging from the exotic to the frankly bizarre.
Preparation of Mexican meals can often be a painstakingly slow labour of love, resulting in a table that groans under the weight of food, at which the entire family will sit to dine. I will never forget the first meal I saw taking place in Mexico, in a big old rustic diner in the Yucatan with a high vaulted ceiling, timber beams and wagon wheels bolted to its stone walls. I had just arrived in Mexico for the first time, with a couple of London lads and a Swedish girl. We were agog at the vast frozen Margaritas that were brought to our table, in glasses the size of hollowed out footballs and swimming with premium gold tequila. Although we were four young and excitable travellers, freshly arrived in this magical land of mountains and deserts, soft sand beaches and palm trees, Mariachi bands and Mezcal, it was in fact the table of twenty or so Mexicans opposite us who commanded the most attention. This was an entire family, out to dine and mingle on Saturday night, in a restaurant. Grandparents, adults, children and infants alike were all there, eating dish after dish the waiters rushed attentively back and forth with. It was a beautiful sight to behold, and not something you see very often in England.
On the aforementioned visit to San Miguel De Allende, I learned a little more about the history of Mexico, witnessed the flourishing arts scene in this historic city, stayed at the stunning Rosewood hotel which has been voted the best luxury hotel in Mexico, understood more about the Mexican cultural attitudes to death and the semiotics of symbolical references such as the skeleton and skulls that adorn arts and crafts in this exquisitely ornate land, drove a golf cart through a new course set in the hills and mountains of Sierra Nevada, cycled on the Mexican equivalent of the Boris bike around Mexico City and ended with a trip to Los Girasoles, a fantastic restaurant in the heart of the city. to feast on all manner of indigenous culinary delights. Stay tuned.
Aeromexico fly to Mexico City three times weekly from London Heathrow as well as from various European destinations.