Rick Martinez suggests a flavor trip through Mexican gastronomy, interview

Rick Martinez for Topo Chico Hard Seltzer, photo provided by Topo Chico Hard Setlzer
Rick Martinez for Topo Chico Hard Seltzer, photo provided by Topo Chico Hard Setlzer /

When Rick Martinez is willing to have a discussion on Mexican gastronomy, everyone is running to take a seat at his table. The celebrated chef, cookbook author, and culinary expert has a wealth of knowledge but it is his good-natured, welcoming personality that makes the conversation memorable. Although he might not be everyone’s personal tour guide while exploring that local bodega in a Mexican town, his insight can entice a food traveler to venture a little off the beaten path and appreciate the nuances that Mexican gastronomy offers.

Recently, Martinez partnered with Topp Chico Hard Seltzer to help people discover a different slant on the Cinco de Mayo celebration. Even though the American Cinco de Mayo celebration has evolved into a celebration of Mexican culture, there is even more to explore both on and off the plate.

In addition to sharing two recipes that feature and pair well with Topo Chico Hard Seltzer, Martinez opened a discussion on travel within Mexico. During a recent conversation with Foodsided, the concept of “travel diferente” could inspire some people to skip a vacation to a Mexican resort destination and consider a different locale where Mexican food and its flavors could open a whole new itinerary.

Given the vastness of the Mexican states, the various locales have traditions and certain ingredients that celebrate the region. While some people appreciate that cuisine from the Southern U.S. states is very different from California cuisine, the same concept applies in Mexico. Local ingredients, climate, and culture impacts what is on the plate.

Still, many travelers want to sit down in a chair and explore a bounty of flavors. Even though cosmopolitan cities can offer that diversity, other locations can allow a deeper dive into the total experience.

Martinez said that he is often asked for recommendation on exploring Mexico. He said that many people have been to the resort areas or even Mexico City. While those locations are rich with food and flavor, he suggests another spot to add to the list.

He commented, “Puebla is such a beautiful city with its architecture, art and culture. And, there are so many different types of cuisine. Since it was along a highway between Veracruz, the port city, and Mexico City, anyone who was entering the country passed through Puebla. There are influences from Asia, Africa, Cuba, and Europe. All these cultures created this amazing cuisine.”

While Mexican celebration of Cinco de Mayo celebrates the Battle of Puebla, that locale becomes a bigger conversation around the holiday. Plus, Topo Chico Hard Seltzer is giving away a six-day trip to Mexico, which includes a stop in Puebla.

Rick Martinez for Topo Chico Hard Seltzer
Rick Martinez for Topo Chico Hard Seltzer, photo provided by Topo Chico Hard Setlzer /

In addition to Puebla, Martinez shared that he enjoys visiting Oaxaca. Specifically, Martinez recommends that city for its amazing moles. While the time and effort in cooking a mole is far from just a whim. Luckily, the various cooks in the area have put forth the time and effort in creating some of the best.

Martinez admitted that sometimes he tries to find bad food in Oaxaca and it is impossible. He compares the city’s culinary landscape to Paris. He said, “it is super impossible to find bad food in those cities.”

Specifically, he gave the following example. “Even the little random bodegas have amazingly delicious moles. It might not make sense that they would have this delicious mole, but they do. I think that it goes back to this idea of cooking for love. Mole is a labor of love and if you are going to make it and put it on the menu you know that you are really good at it, enjoy making it and want to see people enjoy eating it.”

The next time someone suggests booking a trip to Mexico consider venturing outside of the resort area. Exploring Mexican gastronomy could be the food journey that flavors an adventure of a lifetime.