Chefs with Issues is a platform for chefs and farmers we love, fired up for causes about which they're passionate. Patricia Jinich is chef at the Mexican Cultural Institute. She also hosts "Pati’s Mexican Table" on National Public Television and blogs at Pati's Mexican Table.
I was born and raised in Mexico City, in a family where every taco happens to be, as my dad boasts, “the best taco you’ve ever had in your entire life." That is, until you eat the next one.
Living in the US, I am often dismayed at how my home country is portrayed in the media. For some, it’s easy to just write off the entire country as dangerous and riddled with cartel violence. As a former political analyst, I am not in denial about the hurdles my country faces, but the Mexico illustrated in some news reports is certainly not the Mexico I know and love - nor is it the Mexico experienced by the 22.67 million international tourists that visited last year.
Cooking, eating and sharing Mexican food has helped me and my Mexican-American boys connect with our heritage. Plus, I truly believe that its warm, generous, colorful cuisine has the power to make Americans fall in love with Mexico - one bite at a time.
Unlike my three older sisters, I did not join the food world early on. Labeled “the intellectual” in the family, I studied to become a political analyst and delved into Mexico’s history, leaving tacos for mealtime. It wasn’t until I was married and living in Texas that my interest in Mexican food grew beyond my plate. I became hungrier for the food and culture that nurtured my childhood.
I started cooking at home; it was the best way I knew how to take care of my husband, and later my boys. Saucy huevos rancheros on late morning weekends, steaming tamales when we had friends over, soothing caldo de pollo when they got sick, panqué marmoleado to finish with something sweet, aguas frescas to freshen our meals. I began my hunt for Mexican ingredients, which as the years moved on, became increasingly available as the American appetite grew for a wider Mexican food experience.
Eventually, I traded my policy papers for cooking pots. As a chef at the Mexican Cultural Institute, where I direct and teach a Mexican Culinary Program, I embrace the opportunity to share Mexico’s rich culture and diverse cuisine. In fact, it is so rich and unique it has UNESCO world heritage status.
When my students, TV show viewers and American friends raise the inevitable questions about traveling to Mexico, I point to my own experience traveling with my young family. Each time we’ve returned to Mexico, I delightfully find the Mexico that I know.
Overall and underneath, there is a country and culture that is just like its food: incredibly rich, colorful, genuine, giving and accommodating. Just like a luscious mole sauce, with subtle layers of warmth, comfort, ease and hospitality.
Together, we have ridden the entire Copper Canyon route, sampling our way from Los Mochis in Sinaloa to Chihuahua, where the cook of a local restaurant drove us in the back of her wagon to the hotel as our littlest one fell asleep.
We’ve eaten such tasty freshly made gorditas in the train stops that, to this day, I hear complaints about how we need to go back for those exact same ones. We almost missed the train as I chased after the fresh fruit cart man, who quickly opened sweet ripe mangoes and topped them with fresh lime juice, salt and ground pequin chile, because it is better to miss the train than to eat the mango without the whole works.
In a market in Merida, we were invited into a stranger’s kitchen to learn the secret to the perfect achiote recado, the paste that has uniquely seasoned countless dishes in the Yucatan for centuries. The sweetest Purepecha cook taught the boys how to work the Michoacán black clay into the cutest mugs and cups, so that the cook's aunt could show me how to prepare corundas (similar to tamales) in her own kitchen. It’s our culture to feed the people we love, and share it with those who are interested in exploring it.
As varied as the places I’ve been throughout the country, they all share an eclectic and wonderful mix of centuries-old traditions with a weaving of the new and modern. Mexicans are natural hosts – they will do everything they can to make you feel at home in their country and in their homes. We will place our own plates in front of you, if you happen to be hungry. This warmth and openness really sets Mexico apart as a tourist destination.
The travel and tourism industry is crucial to Mexico. It’s the source of jobs, opportunities and tremendous pride for millions of people. When you read certain headlines, please take your margarita with more than a grain of salt; what you read in the news is not necessarily gospel. Mexico is a vast, beautiful and diverse country. The overwhelming majority of incidents have taken place in the border areas, more than a two-hour flight from popular tourist destinations like Los Cabos or the Riviera Maya - and cartel-related incidents targeted at tourists are incredibly rare, virtually unheard of.
If you open your mind and your heart you will find a Mexico that is as warm, vibrant and as nurturing as the food itself. The more I savor Mexico, the more I realize how much more I have yet to taste, to travel, to see, to learn and to share. In fact, I think experiences of Mexico are just like tacos - you think you’ve had the best one ever, until you try the next.
CNN the opening comment states "in celebration of Mexico's Independence Day" but that is September 16th NOT May 5th.
BLACK LSITs BUSINESS BE TWEEN AGENIES.UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU
HUMAN SALE VENEZUELA.UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU
UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUIRRADIATION TROUGTH PERSONS EYES PAINFULL.UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU
I truly love Mexico and Its culture...I always have and always will...VIVA MEXICO POR SIEMPRE!!!!
I truly love all that Mexico and Its culture has yo offer!
Hello There. I found your blog the usage of msn. This is a really smartly written article. I will be sure to bookmark it and return to learn extra of your useful info. Thanks for the post. I will definitely comeback.
Great food is great food! I'm a Mexican American and there is good food from both sides. My father cooks the best Mexican food and my mom cooks the best American food. Mexico is a great country, I visit every chance I get. I wish people wasn't so simple minded. The only people that make it on the news are the Mexican's that can't speak English, the white trash from the trailor park, or the black thugs. The news shines light on all the dumb people of each race. I love being from a multi background because I can enjoy both worlds under one roof. Now that I older and have married a white guy that in the start was very picky, now would pick real Mexican food every day of the week (if i would let him).
What is 'real' Mexican food ? It has to be more than tacos, tamales, and everything else made out of the same ingredients, just stacked differently.
I likes ur writing and the offence of Masa Queso. I will mark this sight to be able to see again. Very written well /
"Each time we’ve returned to Mexico, I delightfully find the Mexico that I know." – This blatant everything-is-OK plug brought to you by your friendly 1% clique at the Mexico's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its Mexican Cultural Institute.
Helpful info. Lucky me I discovered your website by accident, and I am shocked why this coincidence did not took place in advance! I bookmarked it.
Holy frackin derp, what the bleep is wrong with you people? Democrats calling Republicans liars, Republicans making fun of Obama, calling Mexican food gross, claiming "pink slime" is in bland American food, etc....this is a dang eatocracy forum. Take it "outside," please. Sheesh.
Companies use "Official Samples" to distribute free samples and product samples to give consumers the opportunity to try their latest and greatest product lines.
Pati, I think tour article is a remarkable job, little by little with work like the one you do, we can get more US citizens to learn about the meaning of the REAL MEXICAN FOOD and to help the IGNORANT learn more about other culture than their own. I think many of the negative comments displayed here are from people who have never had a REAL home made mexican meal, whose palade are ignorant to new flavors that are not like their "tex -mex", "californian" or "fast food" flavors... if you can call them that. I truly respect and I am proud of the work you are doing. Don't stop doing and writing about what you do because I believe more minds and stomachs will be open by this.
Myself, I love Mexican food as do many othes here in Texas. If there is a Mexican who is a fantastic cook and works they are welcome! They work harder than the deomocrats at the welfare office line. Also, have you ever seen a Mexican or Oriental begging at an intersection? No. They are busy working.
texas is a useless wasteland filled with useless people.
It's people like you that make Texas look bad. Bigoted generalizations.
When I started reading this I thought there was a joke in there someplace. But, NO, just another stupid comment. Very disappointing.
If you want to support Messico, cut off your head.
My husband and I love traveling in Mexico. We go for the food, the people, and the culture...not to mention the warmer weather! The people there are some of the hardest working yet most gracious we have ever met and we have traveled a lot between the two of us. Those who disdain going to Mexico have either never visited and/or never read about the rich and complex history this neighboring country has. If you don't like it, stay away. All the more enjoyment for those of us who who do like Mexico and its people!
Authentic Mexican? sounds like something that will have me on the toilet for a week
Just like your greasy traditional "American" food. Go eat another "mechanically separated" chicken nugget, and then tell me about your colon cancer.
Maybe the pink slime you eat day in and day out in your *American* food is making you have toilet problems. You should really check that out – it can kill you. Here is to fresh ingredients in authentic Mexican food! Cheers!
Tacos arent my thing any more :/
Sometimes people think they're coming gout of the closet when they were just experimenting to begin with. It's OK
Please go to Lowe's for All your closet Needs.
I did hear Home Depot closed about 50 stores. Poor High School kids....
Aye Yye Yye Yye! My sister is a virgin and so is my mom! for 600 Peso's I let you get on!
"Democrat"?! You sound way too intolerant and racist for that.
Vote for hope and change! Obama and Al Sharpton in 2012!
Your a Weiner/Holder type of Guy...I can tell.
GOP operative...lying, as usual
I cannot wait to go back to Monterrey to have some amazing food, nothing like Gorditas Dona Tota, Tacos de carne asada, Don Arturo en la carretera if i am craving seafood, yummmmmmmmmmmy.
And horrible air polution. Sad, because it is such a wonderful city.
Yeap, just like LA, except LA is not beautiful
Or you can recreate it. Travel is unnecessary in culinary culture, aside from word of mouth. I hear that travels at the speed of sound.
Please leave immediately--message in the mailbox.
Me and my wife went to the Mayan Riviera for our honeymoon. I have to say, the truly traditional Mexican cuisine is bar-none excellent, if made right. Nothing like the garbage they try to pass as "mexican food" here in the United States of Stubbornness! What makes "North Americans" think they're better that the rest of the world? USA is in it's infancy, when it comes to the rest of the world. I mean, USA has been here about 250 years give or take. The rest of the world has been civilized for thousands of years. But, let's say American "cuisine" is better that Mexican. We Americans created such delicacies as Hot Dogs, Burgers, French fries, TV dinners, Fast food, etc...I'll have a great pollo en mole any day over a Big Mac. Funny thing is? A few American couples who were in the same Hotel with us were so closed-minded, that they ate...yes...MCDonalds every day of their stay, when we had an all-inclusive pckage that had unlimited dinning at 5 world -class reatsurants. Sometimes, ignorance is no bliss.
No one in u.s. is trying to make Mexico food Jose, I think each region has it's own unique flavor from California, new Mexico and Texas. In my opinion, Mexico food is gross, just sayin.
And I respect your opinion. In that case, then don't call Mexican food something cooked Californian style or New Mexico style. It's misleading.
You are so right! If it has sour cream, don't eat it!
The best thing about Mexican restaurants in Mexico is that they sometimes have donkey shows and also you get to enjoy the owner's sisters.
aaah, you wish for the good old days again, I see
Funny. I was just thinking the same thing about the trailer park you live in with your 400 lb. mother, your half-sister who might be no half-sister at all, and your children that call you Uncle instead of Dad.
Not many trailer parks in Detroit. As I am Black that comment makes you a racist.
Card laid is Da' card played,Playa'.
I see where you get you taste from....not much variety with government cheese? I feel for you, your ignorance and lack of culture really shine in your comments. Enjoy your little boring world. Oh, by the way...Your comments on sisters and all that crap shows how desperate you are. Fantasize much? You poor, poor thing.
Yes... is that Frumunda cheese? From unda da arms and unda da toes?
You sound like a rethuglican lying and pretending to be a Democrat...how typical.
Vote Al Sharpton and Marion Barry in 2012! Vote for despair!
It's so obvious you've never left your Detroit ghetto and are so bitter that you can't afford the plane trip down to Cabo..hell, you can't even afford the fee to get a passport! Nonetheless, you should find more effective means to vent your ignorance and bitterness like maybe reading a book!
C'mon! Travel advice from a Polish blondie who works for the Mexican Cultural Institute run by the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs. No thanks!
I try to go visit my family in La Paz as much as possible and my kids and wife want to go to the beach or out walking around while all I want to do is eat my tia's cooking at home. my son always loves going back home though & has a special request for our travel home all the way back to N. Cali.. this last time enough lengua for the drive and different hotel stays on our three day drive.. he ate most of it my wife don't like it & his sister's think it's gross. so just him & I.
Last weekend I was in Maine with my wife and some friends. They took us to a Mexican restaurant where the food was fabulous and the waiters were friendly and helpful. Visiting Mexico is definitely on my Things To Do list. You can't characterize an entire country by what you see in the news. My wife's uncle from Italy was afraid to come to America because he thought there were gunfights in the streets on a regular basis.
Ummm...have you been to Compton or the Bronx? There ARE gunfights in the streets on a daily basis...
Ummm.....the point is obvious. Because some regions are bad does not mean you should avoid the whole country.
compton crime levels have dropped to 1965 rates, your argument is moot
You're right, my bad, Compton is just like Boulder now.
We have been honored to be invited to be part of various family celebrations at the home of a co-worker and her family, who moved to Wisconsin from Mexico a dozen or so years ago. Every single time we have been treated to the most incredibly warm welcome and wonderful spread of delightful food. The celebrations last for hours and hours, and when it's time to pull ourselves away, we are sent home with plates and bowls overflowing with delicious treats to enjoy all over again the next day. Someday...we hope to be fortunate enough to travel to Mexico to experience the country from which this beautiful family came.
Smart Human, I think you're being extremely naive and short sighted. The fact that SOME Mexicans have taken advantage of the systems that the US citizens have allowed to be put in place shouldn't be held against the entire population as a whole. I'm rather confident in stating that EVERY race and nearly those from EVERY nation have exploited the US system at some point or another. I'd further speculate that none have exploited the US system more than US citizens themselves. So while I love Mexico as you say you do, I also love the US but I'll readily admit we have A LOT to fix in our own country before we are in the position to tell other countries what they are doing wrong.
You're so smart you couldn't figure out how to use the reply button...
Thank You Citizen and may I say " We will have Total Transparency " in My Administration. Viva LaRaza and get your Green Cards Here.
For those of you with the horrible comments not related to the food, you are a bunch of angry, miserable, near sighted morons. Go back under your rock and rot with your misery.
For the rest, good food and company should be appreciated regardless of its origins, particularly if it has been refined thru centuries.
Sounds like someone is projecting
Claro que no, es simplemente el aburrimiento con la constante ignorancia de gente sin nada que hacer.
Chinga tu madre, David! Eres pendejo grandote!
Steve, you should probably learn how to speak/write Spanish before you try posting again.
I think we have a "Douch-O" alert with this David clown...
Hurry up and mow my lawn.
Odd that you posted after my comment, since abviously you are one of the morons I specifically mention above. Here's your sign...
I think we have an "El Douch-O" alert with this David clown...
Here is your sister. I am finished.
David, Please do not waste your time with these two idiots. They are the type of people I try to stay away from always. No culture, stupid, perverted, nasty, pretty much human dirt. Here is to good food and quality company.
Si se puede corazon!
Hurry up and pick me some cotton.
Pati, whatever you do, please do not read the comments to this article. It is going to draw out the worst of our cowardly, mean-spirited, small-minded, infantile, petty, ignorant, frightened, jingoistic populace. You probably already know they do not represent the majority.
You must First realize that Pati lives in Texas...The Land of Major BS. She is prepared,as well as an excellent cook.
Traditional Mexican food is totally delicious and completely deadly. All those yummy tacos and gorditas are loaded with artery clogging grease and kills many Mexicans at an early age. I love Mexico, but perhaps you're overlooking what Mexico means to American with the myriad of illegals, anchor babies, taxing the healthcare system all really meaning that Mexicans come to America to take advantage of our system because theirs is corrupt and broken. So, while I love Mexico, the people of your country do come here to take advantage of what we have and a lot of Americans are tired of seeing people looking for handouts. True, our lettuce would have a hard time getting picked in California, but the overall effect of such mass immigration is negative.
Taco bell is not Mexican food FYI, and all my grandparents have lived into their 90's (eating REAL Mexican food).
Where did I say Taco Bell was Mexican food? Stop making things up. Just because you're grandparents lived long doesn't mean that Mexicans don't die, in general, prematurely due to heart disease, obesity, cholesterol, and diabetes. Learn some facts before you start spewing nonsense.
" Just because *your* grandparents lived long doesn't mean that *Americans* don't die, in general, prematurely due to heart disease, obesity, cholesterol, and diabetes. Learn some facts before you start spewing nonsense. "
There, fixed it for ya.
LOL!! I'm sure Julian was being sarcastic and I agree with him. You make it seem as if Mexicans eat carnitas,tamales and menudo everday. I happen to love noples con chile hecho en molcajete, lentejas con tomate, cebolla, cilantro y serranos and elotes asados sin crema.That is real Mexican food! My grandma makes her tortillas from scratch! By that I mean she picks the corn from her land.
Anyone can and will be obese if they eat unhealthy food no matter what country they're from.
Is it just me? Do I live in the only part of the country where the Mexicans work their butts off? Because I keep reading these comments about Mexicans asking for a handout but I never got over the fact that at a large intersection near me there were always 4 caucasians – one on each corner – asking for money, and about 25 Mexicans in the parking lot behind them asking for work.
Asking for Money VS Work...Hmmm,whom shall be driving the VW Beetle first may I ask?
I must side with you. I have lived in San Antonio for the past 30 years (of my adult life) and I see the same. The Hispanics (over 50%of the population) are the hardest working people I've known. AND extremely family oriented.
As a white boy, I am ashamed to admit it is mostly whites I see begging for handouts.
Judge people as individuals and avoid generalization.
if you think traditional Mexican food is bad for you, you have no idea of what traditional Mexican food is. You are one of those typical people who think tex-mex is traditional.
As a white boy exposed to real Mexican food (and a huge food critic) I can assure you that "real" Mexican cuisine is very healthy... and extremely yummy!
take your ignorance of cultures elsewhere. You are not going to learn what you already think you know on the web.
Gracken, I lived in Mexico for a number of years with Mexican families, as well as have worked there on plantations and other businesses. I have also traveled throughout the entire country for 30 years. I know more about Mexico than most Mexicans (according to them.)
It always amazes me that the comments on here are so totally uninformed and assume the other person thinks eating at taco bell is "being Mexican." It is clear you don't know anything, so it is pointless to continue responding to your nonsense.
LOL born in mexico and moved to the US at age 7 and still new more english then the kids born here.. anyway my mom always cooked and the first time I had taco bell was when i was going into my freshman year of high school it was summer time & i joined the football team and we had doubles. my mother was back in mexico and my dad was always working so he left $5 for me to eat lunch.. NEVER BEEN BACK TO A TACO BELL I was 12 and i'm 35 23 years later still will not go near it.
For someone that claims to have lived in Mexico for such a long time, you sure don't act like it. The knowledge you claim to have from the Mexican culture makes me wonder if you truly lived with Mexicans or if you like to pretend to have lived with them so it can add some credibility to your posts. As a true Mexican I must tell you that your statistics are totally erroneous. People in Mexico not only eat some of the healthiest food ever they actually have the advantage of it being fresh and grown naturally. I don't know what family you stayed with but the mayority of mexicans not only make tortillas from scratch they also eat a lot of greens that you have probably never heard of, they normally only eat meat once or twice a week and normally have an extremely healthy diet. Ofcourse there are always those exceptions that try to seem more "americans" by eating only canned food and silly things like that. It is sad that people can only imagine fatty foods as Mexican when truly it was when I moved to US that I tried some of the most greaseast foods in my life.
Well, if you are as smart as you claim to be, you should know that there is a world of more exquisite things to eat in Mexico (grease free) beyond tacos and gorditas.
Nora, eating at boutique taquerias in D.F. that you saw on a Rick Bayless TV show doesn't make you even close to being connected with the people of Mexico.
Idiot. A gordita is an American piece of garbage. Please only post if you know what you ate talking about.
Your the IDIOT Dover...sometimes food from another country is hard to understand. It can be complex,with many ingredients,spices,etc. Why not try to teach instead of being a Dumbass,which you do so well.
I got moderated but your still an AzzHole.
Idiot. A gordita is native to central and northern Mexico, sometimes made of corn and sometimes wheat. It is filled differently in different regions. Please only post when you want to be polite to other people.
Related: Overweight cat dies, as featured on CNN.
It looks like you made a wrong turn on the internet, while you were looking for the illiterate racist hate blog, you accidentally ended up on a food blog. If you leave now we will promise to forget every stupid thing you have posted. Now shoo....
No wrong turn...didn't have my Blinker on. Your in the wrong realm...unless being a Dumbazz runs in your family,which it obviously does.
Why do you care so much about what other people do? And isn't this an article about food and the comforts of familiarity and sharing? This isn't a political article. To have an opinion is great but use it when it necessary. Plus, again, why do you care what other people do? Just live YOUR life. Do good. Be warm. Exercise good judgement for yourself. I feel that since you care so much about what other people do and went sa far as to type it out then you have opened the door for some one to advise you about your actions as well. Just live for yourself dude. Don't poke your nose in something unless its fitting and if its a political thing-go run for office and campaign for votes. Its your right to do so.
I disagree with you, There are plenty of Americans and I means Companies and Citizens that take total advantage of Mexico's what ever you want to call it, cheap labor, mineral gold, copper, silver, commerce, laws just to mention a few, but you just see one side of the problem
i agree some of mt family members might have been deciding to go.but with the gang wars over there they migh just go to africa or somewhere else, either way though it is a big chance that americans go to mexico as a vacation or stay.like some of my other family members who live there in a big house .
but even so I have to say I really dont care"_
I hear she bleaches her reverse tamale hole, if ya know what I mean *wink*
So glad you wrote this! We recently decided to retire in Mexico and our family thinks we're crazy!
Where are you retiring to? Such a beautiful country, great people and of course wonderful food. I have lived in Canada, USA and now México and this is the best place I have lived. Freedom and laid-back attitude is difficult to beat. You have made a correct decision and I wish you all the best. It was also our best decision!
Nothing at all crazy about it Judy. After a lifetime of traveling the world, I decided to retire to Mexico. Tell the family to turn off the TV and explore it themselves. Ask yourself, If every murder, rape, and robbery that happened coast to coast in the ENTIRE U.S. were reported every night on the news, would you feel safe traveling to the U.S.? If you plan on running or dealing in drugs, arms or human trafficing, you might have something to be worried about. Otherwise, enjoy a street taco and a cold cerveza! Good luck.
These are some of the beautiful things I remember seeing when eating tacos at my favorite spot:
And the U.S. has this.
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