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Debunking Mexican food myths

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The Final Table participant Colibri Jimenez talks about her work and passion for cooking

One can be forgiven for mistaking Colibri Jimenez for an actor or model. Perfect features in an oval face devoid of blemish help create that impression. However, Colibri is far more than just a pretty face.

Fresh off her debut on television as a contestant on The Final Table, Colibri has been on a whirlwind tour around the world in an attempt to bring Mexican cuisine to the masses.

Mexico is home for Colibri who has loved cooking since she was a little girl; she began pursuing it in earnest around the time she turned 18. Now, she’s 30 years old and despite not having a restaurant to her name as yet, Colibri still shares her culinary creations with one and all. “I do nomad cooking around the world,” she says with a smile.

Pop culture has restricted the image of Mexican cuisine to tacos and nachos. Ask Colibri about the popularity of Tex-Mex and she laughs. “It is popular everywhere and gets more popular the further you move from Mexico. It is fast food,” she says, crediting its success to basic ingredients such as beans, rice, cheese and avocado.

Her maiden trip to India, included stops at Mumbai, Delhi, Agra Bengaluru, Pune and Jaipur.

Debunking Mexican food myths

“There are a lot of similarities between Indian and Mexican cuisines. The use of various spices, multiple ingredients and chillies are a common factor,” says Colibri, who enjoyed biryani and different kinds of chutneys during her stay here.

“What I enjoyed the most were the thaalis perhaps because Indian food has a lot of balance, with every meal involving most of the food groups,” she says.

Extensive preparation is another thing in common with Indian and Mexican cuisines. She recalls mole from her country which she describes as ‘a type of Indian curry or sauce,’ which takes a long time to make.

“Different kinds of mole are made in different parts of the country and could take up to a day, from the grinding of the spices till it is served on the table.”

Again, like in India, spice powders in Mexico are traditionally prepared with stone grinders. There are traditional dishes where the meats are laid under a layer of volcanic rocks and agave leaves and left to slow cook overnight.

Colibri says a chilli chicken dish she tried in Delhi was very similar to Mexican polloand salsa verde(chicken and green salad).

“Also, the rice pudding (payasam or kheer) served in India is similar to what we serve too, except we don’t use cardamom so much. Cinnamon is our spice of choice,” she says.

If she wasn’t into food, Colibri who loves animals, especially horses, says she would’ve been a veterinarian.

While she doesn’t run a restaurant, her company @AventrutaGastronmica is dedicated to the preservation and promotion of traditional Mexican dishes, requiring a fair amount of research.

Colibrí has documented her finds in the book ‘Una Aventura Gastronomica,’ sharing photographs and incidents of her culinary journey to the farthest corners of México.

Currently, Colibri is collecting more material research for her next book on street food, chefs and agriculture in Mexico, which she hopes to bring out in Mexico.

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Printable version | Jan 21, 2020 4:58:18 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/food/debunking-mexican-food-myths/article30458477.ece

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