Eating indigenous or devouring the indigenous? Integration, refusal and appropriation of Native food in the Mexican gastronomical tradition
Davide Domenici
in English

The place of indigenous food habits within the Mexican gastronomical tradition has often been problematic. The seminar will provide a general view of pre-colonial indigenous food practices, then exploring how they were perceived and refused by the Spanish colonists during the colonial era. An ideological turning point coincided with the Mexican Independence at the beginning of the 19th century, when Creole elites reevaluated, mostly at a purely ideological level, indigenous food traditions as part of the construction of a new patriotic discourse.

After the Mexican Revolution, Mexican intellectuals promoted cultural and gastronomical hybridization or mestizaje, aiming at the creation of a mestizo national identity that was going to overcome regional and indigenous identities (and food traditions). At the beginning of the 21st century, the worldwide reevaluation of cultural difference led to a new appreciation of indigenous identities as well as to the “rediscovery” of indigenous food habits, as can be appreciated in the New Mexican Gastronomy.

The difficulties deriving from the need to combine a positive appreciation of local indigenous identities with the discursive needs of the unitary National state are graphically represented by the problematic process that led – after an initial failure – to the recognition of Mexican gastronomy as intangible heritage of humanity by the UNESCO.