Mexican Cuisine

Intangible Heritage by UNESCO


In November 16th 2010, the Mexican Government presented the candidature for the inscription of its Traditional Cuisine during the Fifth Session of the Convention Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in Nairobi, Kenya.

The postulation was approved, giving way at the end of a period and the beginning to another, until our days, when a lot of people is working hard for the rescue and promotion of the real and authentic Mexican Cuisine.

The Traditional Mexican Cuisine is a comprehensive cultural model comprising farming, ritual practices, age-old skills, culinary techniques and ancestral community customs and manners. It is made possible by collective participation in the entire traditional food chain: from planting and harvesting to cooking and eating.

The basis of the system is founded on corn, beans and chili; unique farming methods such as milpas (rotating swidden fields of corn and other crops) and chinampas (man-made farming islets in lake areas); cooking processes such as nixtamalization (lime-hulling maize, which increases its nutritional value); and singular utensils including grinding stones and stone mortars. Native ingredients such as varieties of tomatoes, squashes, avocados, cocoa and vanilla augment the basic staples. Mexican cuisine is elaborate and symbol-laden, with everyday tortillas and tamales, both made of corn, forming an integral part of Day of the Dead offerings.

Collectives of female cooks and other practitioners devoted to raising crops and traditional cuisine are found in the State of Michoacán and across Mexico. Their knowledge and techniques express community identity, reinforce social bonds, and build stronger local, regional and national identities. Those efforts in Michoacán also underline the importance of traditional cuisine as a means of sustainable development.

Decides that, from the information provided in nomination file No. 00400, traditional Mexican cuisine – ancestral, ongoing community culture, the Michoacán paradigm satisfies the criteria for inscription on the Representative List, as follows:

  • Traditional Mexican cuisine is central to the cultural identity of the communities that practise and transmit it from generation to generation.
  • Its inscription on the Representative List could enhance the visibility of intangible cultural heritage and promote respect for cultural diversity and human creativity.
  • Current and planned safeguarding measures include consultations and research projects as well as practical training, with the support of the State and the communities concerned.
  • Practitioners participated actively in the nomination process and provided their free, prior and informed consent.
  • Traditional Mexican cuisine is included in the Inventory of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Mexico maintained by the National Council for Culture and Arts.

Nomination file: Download

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