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A MEXICAN FEAST

AUTHENTIC RECIPES FROM THE PEOPLE WHO KNOW THEM BEST

Maria Teresa Sierra and her mobile cake and jelly stall in Oaxaca
WITH EXCERPTS AND RECIPES ADAPTED FROM LONELY PLANET’S MEXICO:FROM THE SOURCE WRITTEN BY KATE ARMSTRONG, KRISTIN DIAZ DE SANDI, SCARLETT LINDEMAN, JOHN HECHT AND MICHELE PETERSON. PHOTOGRAPHS: JUSTIN FOULKES, LINDSAY LAUCKNER GUNDLOCK. ILLUSTRATIONS BY LOUISE SHEERAN

The story of Mexican cuisine is an epic spanning eras, landscapes and people. Many local staples come from the Aztec diet, which was primarily vegetarian and centred around corn. In the Yucatán, ancient Maya flavours live on in the oftenused ingredients of lime, orange and the notorious habanero chilli pepper.

Today, Mexico is home to one of the world’s most renowned street-food cultures: in Mexico City, antojitos (street-food bites) bestow the streets with scents of salsa, onion- and beef-topped chalupas, and blackened corn; Oaxaca is bursting with bite-sized garnachas, originally served as party food at festivals; and Puebla in east-central Mexico is the city that gave birth to chocolate-and-chilli mole poblano.

Recently, a gourmet scene has established itself in Mexico. In Baja California, upmarket seafood restaurants, craft breweries and vineyards stretch across the peninsula. On the Pacific Coast, diners eat on sun-soaked terraces alongside fish markets, sampling local fruits and vegetables that complement dishes like ceviche.

Mexico has many regional variations, yet the essence of what makes its cuisine unique is the fusion of Old World and New World, local ingredients and a sense of community. Here, we’ve picked some of the country’s best recipes. ¡Buen provecho!

ALMEJA PISMO PREPARADA

Pismo clams

When Anthony Bourdain, renowned chef and TV personality, made a pilgrimage to Sabina Bandera’s streetfood cart, La Guerrerense, for the Baja episode of his show No Reservations, he proclaimed Bandera ‘a genius’ and the food ‘shockingly good’.

There can be no higher acclaim. Bandera is more than thankful for his visit, along with those she receives from other international stars who have made their way to Baja for her seafood-studded tostadas.

Originally from the state of Guerrero, Bandera grew up around livestock, making fresh requesón (a ricotta-like cheese) and crema (cream), and enjoying such dishes as pozole and cochinita pibil. She had little to no knowledge about mariscos (seafood) until she moved to the port city of Ensenada. It wasn’t until her in-laws, who founded this curbside cart, showed her their seafood ways that she became a maestro in cooking with these ingredients.

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