Although tacos and burritos might give a glimpse of Mexican flavors, Mexican gastronomy highlights native ingredients, cultural traditions, and stories passed down through generations. During a special event Fiesta Mexicana de Xcaret, the 32 Mexican states showcased the vastness of food and flavors that traverse the country’s food heritage.
While many people visit Xcaret for its adventure and stay at its hotel resorts for the escape, the area is steeped in Mexican culture and heritage. At every turn, the properties celebrate how the past, present, and future are woven into people’s lives. Food is often at the heart of that sentiment.
During this year’s Mexican Independence Day celebration, the Fiesta Mexicana de Xcaret invited guests to stroll the Xpiral Pyramid shared by Hotel Xcaret Mexico and Hotel Xcaret Arte and feast their way through 32 states of Mexico. Scattered throughout the walking experience were food, beverage, and entertainment offerings. While the evening celebrated all of Mexico, it was a reminder how diverse yet connected the country is.
Mexican gastronomy has a UNESCO Intangiable Heritage of Humanity designation. While the native ingredients feature predominately on the plate, it is the various regions approaches that add their own flare. Whether it is fresh fish combined with chiles or hearty beef centric dishes from the middle of the country, it is that diversity which invites people back to the table time and again.
Having had the opportunity to experience the 2023 Fiesta Mexicana de Xcaret 32 Grandes Cocineras event, the celebration was a night to remember. Some people chose to dance the night away under the stars and others feasted on new foods that surprised with their flavors. Each step up the pyramid offered a delightful discovery.
While each dish stood on its own, one uniting factor was the celebration of humble ingredients. From corn to potatoes, simple food was the foundation of a dish. Similar to how a farm to table restaurant relishes the simplicity in quality food, so did some of these dishes.
Building on that idea, many of the dishes were servings of childhood memories. An example was the large chicharrones topped with cole slaw. Whether it was an afternoon snack or a special treat, it was another dish showcasing how food connects people and flavors favorite moments to remember.
Most interesting with this event was how Mexican gastronomy celebrates resourcefulness. It is not about being an adventurous eater, it is appreciating the available food and making it flavorful. Chapulines add texture to a dish and a contrast when paired with a robust mole. It is a central Mexican tradition, and some people need to look beyond the visual to appreciate that ingredient.
The same can be said with fox soup or frogs legs tamale. Food is everywhere, but the creative chef finds ways to make the unlikely ingredient more than just palatable. They make a plate that has people become coming back for another serving.
Across all the dishes, the most notable feature was the depth of flavor. Not a single dish was over spiced, too acidic, or quite cloying. The balance showcased that these dishes took time and care to master. Like that mole recipe that has been handed down through generations, the cooks put their heart into creating their offering. It might not be a chapter from Como Agua Para Chocolate, but there is love, honor, and connection in every serving. Only happy tears were shed during this event.
While the event was a celebration of Mexico’s heritage and culture, it was a reminder that food brings people together. From telling family stories to creating a desire to dive deeper into history, anyone and everyone savored the experience from start to finish.
In the end, even with all the walking up and down the pyramid, everyone left full and satisfied. As the music faded into the night and the stalls put away their plates, it was the exploration of Mexican gastronomy that forfeited the experience. Another year of Mexican independence might be tallied on the calendar, but more importantly, the additional days seasoning the food and culture nourished everyone’s hearts.