What happens when local and regional cuisines become popular outside of their points of origin? Over the last two decades, Mexican gastronomy has experienced a global boom, especially after its 2010 inscription into UNESCO’s List of Intangible Cultural Heritage. Restaurants opened by Mexican outside of Mexico present dishes that rely on regionally specific ingredients—particular varieties of chiles, herbs, or grains, for example—while internationally recognized chefs such as René Redzepi travel to Mexico to learn about Mexican ingredients and techniques. This talk provides a brief history of the “Mexican boom,” and explores the routes of Mexican ingredients and dishes as they move from Mexico to other parts of the world. What kinds of relationships are established between Mexican producers and foreign markets? How does online marketing and purchasing affect the relationships between producers, providers, and chefs? And what happens when traditional ingredients are refashioned into products intended for a global market?
Melissa Biggs is a social anthropologist whose research interests include cultural politics and representation, critical heritage studies, nationalism and indigenous rights, and food culture. From August 2016 until May 2017, she was a Fulbright-García Robles scholar based in Guadalajara, Jalisco, México. She is currently an independent scholar based in Guadalajara. She is affiliated with the National School of Anthropology and History’s permanent seminar “The Cuisines of Mexico and their Histories.”