Mexico City, Mexico : During the second annual Gastronomic Congress (Congreso Mexicano De Gastronomia-Tendencias) held during Alimentaria 2006 Cristina Hernandez de Palacio (Cultura Culinaria, A.C.), a distinguished member of the culinary community gave a class on Traditional Mexican Cuisine. Her focus, a discussion on the diverse manners of produce and herbs used in the prehispanic kitchen. From the vegetables (corn, tomato, chiles, pumpkin, beans, amaranth,cacao, chayote, avocado, quelites, epazote, nopales, ), wild fruits, worms, insects, wild game (venison, iguana,rabbit, turkey, armadillo, duck,snakes), seafood (turtles, frogs, shrimp,salamander, tadpoles, fish from Atlantic and Pacific coasts) to the cooking techniques and utensils she also gave a social and religious overview of the importance of cuisine.
As a tasting she prepared a sauce called Paskal/ Pascale/Paxcal,mentioned by Fray Bernardino de Shagun in his History of New Spain, prepared with pumpkin seeds, turkey broth, chile guajillo, chile ancho and salt. A seemingly simple preparation where the toasted pumpkin seeds are simmered for 20 to 30 minutes in the broth and then ground with the chiles , it is returned to a low heat, stirred constantly until a thick rich consistency is reached. The complex flavors of the ingredients and slow simmers were an incredible taste for the audience.
An accomplished chef and an even more exciting lecturer she left her audience with an intense sense of having had a small glimpse into the complex and unusual world of Mexican cuisine.
We look forward to next year's Gastronomic Congress and invite you, our fellow culinarians, to join us in Mexico City for further cultural "tastes". For more information on Tendencias Alimentarias click here.
by Ruth Alegria
Mexico City, Mexico