For the last week of June and the first of July I was fortunate enough to be part of the Mexico Program during The Smithsonian Institution’s 2010 Folklife Festival. For those two weeks I was part of an exhibit that showed the “hidden” México, or the México Profundo (“Deep México”). The México not known to tourists and even many Mexicans. There wasn’t a single mariachi band as you know them (there was a traditional one), not one Jarabe tapatío dance. Not that there’s anything wrong with those elements. It’s just that they are too well known and the curators wanted to show a different side of México. So the program brought three different indigenous cultures so they could show their traditions. There were artisans, mezcal makers, musicians, dancers, and a couple of candy-makers who could make pretty much any fruit into a candy.
Part of the program was of course, food. And yours truly, along with two other fabulous Smithsonian Interns, was in charge of helping the demonstration kitchen run smoothly. The experience was rewarding in more ways than I can count. I learned to cook several dishes, I got to experience the different ways different regions of the country approach one ingredient, and mostly, I got to interact and befriend some wonderful people who opened not only their culinary knowledge, but their hearts and experiences with us. It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
The Festival ended almost a month ago. Other things kept me busy after that, and it is only now, sitting in my grandpa’s kitchen in Mexico City, that I can quietly organize the recipes, photos and memories. I hope, in the next few days, to share some of what I learned here. Coming up, Mole de Morelos, a recipe I learned from Alma Reyes, a dancer with the Chinelos de Atlatlahucan group, who shared her family’s recipe during the Festival.