Culture

A Pre-Hispanic Restaurant In Mexico Has Been Named One Of The World’s Best

Latin America has quickly moved up the ranks when it comes to fine dining – especially as much of the world finally catches on to the many treasures across the region.

For several years, high-end dining featuring fusions from Japanese and French mixed in with typical Mexican or Colombian or Peruvian cuisines have been recognized. Case in point: a Mexican woman was recognized as the world’s top chef in 2019.

But more recently, Indigenous flavors have started to get the recognition they deserve.

A Mexican restaurant has been named among the world’s greatest thanks to its Indigenous roots.

The world’s top 20 restaurants – as selected by Travel + Leisure and Food & Wine – finally features an Indigenous restaurant, and from Mexico’s Tabasco state no less.

A culinary critic cited the mole poblano with turkey, scarlet shrimp and the ambience among the reasons the restaurant was chosen to join the rankings of the world’s best.

Cocina Chontal is an intimate restaurant situated in a small house with brick floors and wooden tables where dishes are cooked on an outdoor comal and dogs hang out waiting for scraps. It may seem out of place compared to some of the more ‘high-end’ restaurants on the list. might seem an unlikely place to find one of the world’s best foodie haunts.

Cocina Chontal sits amid the jungle and is bringing Pre-Hispanic flavors to Mexico’s foodie crowd.

Credit: Cocina Chontal / Facebook

Sitting in the middle of the San Isidro de Comalcalco jungle in Tabasco, Mexico, is a restaurant that’s heart is the wood-field comal just outside the front door. The restaurant is on he outskirts of the Zona Arqueológica de Comalcalco, a Chontal Mayan site containing the remains of the westernmost city of the Mayan civilization.

Chef Nelly Córdova Morillo is a former lawyer who grew up eating traditional Chontal cooking on her grandparents’ farm. Her restaurant celebrates the pre-Hispanic cuisine of the region, serving traditional dishes made with traditional ingredients cooked over wood harvested from the surrounding landscape. She’s in touch with her roots and aims to share them with the rest of the world.

Popular dishes include “tortilla Chontal,” a type of fresh-masa quesadilla served with a dark green salsa that tastes of the forest, alongside frothy pineapple agua fresca.

Nevertheless, chef Nelly Córdova Murillo said ending up on the travel magazine’s list was a total surprise.

“Truly it’s incredible,” she told Travel + Leisure. “I was calmly baking some cinnamon rolls with my daughter, and suddenly it occurred to me to get my telephone. I found all these people congratulating me, and I didn’t know for what.” 

Córdova is among chefs in major world cities like Rio de Janeiro, Sydney, Bogotá, and Santiago, Chile. But she hasn’t let it go to her head. The award, she said, goes to all tabasqueños.

“It’s their culture, their traditions, their customs, their men and women, their products, and their artisans,” she said. “Cocina Chontal is that. It’s Tabasco in a small place.” 

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Mexican Politician Accused Of Rape Vows To Block Elections Unless He’s Allowed To Run

Things That Matter

Mexican Politician Accused Of Rape Vows To Block Elections Unless He’s Allowed To Run

FRANCISCO ROBLES/AFP via Getty Images

It’s an election year in Mexico and that means that things are heating up as candidates fight for the top spot. At the same time, Mexico is experiencing a burgeoning fight for women’s rights that demands accountability and justice. Despite all the marches and protests and civil disobedience by hundreds of thousands of Mexicans, it remains to be seen how much change will happen and when. 

Case in point: Félix Salgado, a candidate for governor of Guerrero who has been accused of rape and sexual assault but maintains the support of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO). Now, after being disqualified from the race because of undisclosed campaign finances, the candidate is vowing to block any elections from taking place unless he is allowed to continue his campaign. 

A disqualified candidate is vowing to block elections unless he’s allowed to run.

Félix Salgado was running to be governor of the Mexican state of Guerrero when he was faced with allegations of rape and sexual assault. The commission that selects party candidates allowed him to remain in the race and he continues to maintain the support of President AMLO – who is of the same political party, Morena. 

However, in late March, election regulators ordered that Salgado be taken off the ballot due to a failure to report campaign spending, according to the AP. Mexico’s electoral court ordered the Federal Electoral Institute (FEI) to reconsider their decision last week. Salgado is already threatening to throw the election process into chaos.

“If we are on the ballot, there will be elections,” Salgado told supporters in Guerrero after leading a caravan of protestors to the FEI’s office in Mexico City on Sunday. “If we are not on the ballot, there will not be any elections,” Salgado said.

The AP notes that Salgado is not making an empty threat. Guerrero is an embattled state overrun with violence and drug gangs and many elections have been previously disrupted. Past governors have been forced out of office before finishing their terms. Salgado was previously filmed getting into a confrontation with police in 2000.

It was just weeks ago that the ruling party allowed Salgado’s candidacy to move forward.

In mid-March, Morena confirmed that Félix Salgado would be its candidate for governor in Guerrero after completing a new selection process in which the former senator was reportedly pitted against four women.

Morena polled citizens in Guerrero last weekend to determine levels of support for five different possible candidates, according to media reports. Among the four women who were included in the process were Acapulco Mayor Adela Román and Senator Nestora Salgado.

Félix Salgado was the clear winner of the survey, even coming out on top when those polled were asked to opine on the potential candidates’ respect for the rights of women. He also prevailed in all other categories including honesty and knowledge of the municipality in which the poll respondents lived.

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Mexico City Could Soon Change Its Name To Better Embrace Its Indigenous Identity

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Mexico City Could Soon Change Its Name To Better Embrace Its Indigenous Identity

PEDRO PARDO/AFP via Getty Images

Mexico City is the oldest surviving capital city in all of the Americas. It also is one of only two that actually served as capitals of their Indigenous communities – the other being Quito, Ecuador. But much of that incredible history is washed over in history books, tourism advertisements, and the everyday hustle and bustle of a city of 21 million people.

Recently, city residents voted on a non-binding resolution that could see the city’s name changed back to it’s pre-Hispanic origin to help shine a light on its rich Indigenous history.

Mexico City could soon be renamed in honor of its pre-Hispanic identity.

A recent poll shows that 54% of chilangos (as residents of Mexico City are called) are in favor of changing the city’s official name from Ciudad de México to México-Tenochtitlán. In contrast, 42% of respondents said they didn’t support a name change while 4% said they they didn’t know.

Conducted earlier this month as Mexico City gears up to mark the 500th anniversary of the fall of the Aztec empire capital with a series of cultural events, the poll also asked respondents if they identified more as Mexicas, as Aztec people were also known, Spanish or mestizo (mixed indigenous and Spanish blood).

Mestizo was the most popular response, with 55% of respondents saying they identified as such while 37% saw themselves more as Mexicas. Only 4% identified as Spaniards and the same percentage said they didn’t know with whom they identified most.

The poll also touched on the city’s history.

The ancient city of Tenochtitlán.

The same poll also asked people if they thought that the 500th anniversary of the Spanish conquest of Tenochtitlán by Spanish conquistadoresshould be commemorated or forgotten, 80% chose the former option while just 16% opted for the latter.

Three-quarters of respondents said they preferred areas of the the capital where colonial-era architecture predominates, such as the historic center, while 24% said that they favored zones with modern architecture.

There are also numerous examples of pre-Hispanic architecture in Mexico City including the Templo Mayor, Tlatelolco and Cuicuilco archaeological sites.

Tenochtitlán was one of the world’s most advanced cities when the Spanish arrived.

Tenochtitlán, which means “place where prickly pears abound” in Náhuatl, was founded by the Mexica people in 1325 on an island located on Lake Texcoco. The legend goes that they decided to build a city on the island because they saw the omen they were seeking: an eagle devouring a snake while perched on a nopal.

At its peak, it was the largest city in the pre-Columbian Americas. It subsequently became a cabecera of the Viceroyalty of New Spain. Today, the ruins of Tenochtitlán are in the historic center of the Mexican capital. The World Heritage Site of Xochimilco contains what remains of the geography (water, boats, floating gardens) of the Mexica capital.

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