The Mexican cuisine has a very special place all over the world, thanks to the work of chefs that have represented our wonderful food worldwide. One of those who seek to take the Yucatecan flavor to all continents is Chef Eduardo Pérez Romero who, during an interview with Grupo Editorial La Verdad, gave some interesting details of his most recent trip to the Middle East.
In recent dates we heard that you had a trip to different parts of the Middle East. Can you tell us where and how did it go?
‘We have been to several places. Last December we had the opportunity to go to Tel Aviv (Israel). There, we were able to cook at the Sheraton, for guests from the Mexican Embassy in Israel. We stayed there for two weeks, preparing mainly Mexican typical dishes. We were also in September at the Embassy of Mexico in Saudi Arabia, with Ambassador Alfredo Miranda.
Did you get to cook Yucatecan food?
‘We cooked typical dishes of Yucatan, such as panuchos and pollo pibil; as well a other representative dishes of our country, such as: sopes, empanadas, or mole verde. The curious thing about this visit is that we cooked Mexican- kosher food; because we had to adapt to the Jewish cuisine in this Tel Aviv hotel. During the festival we were cooking for more than 300 people a day. ‘
What is the objective of taking our country’s cuisine to other latitudes?
“With this festival we seek to promote Mexican and Yucatecan food, promote Mexico, promote Yucatan as a world-class tourist destination, always with the support and collaboration of the Mexican Embassies worldwide.”
What kind of experience was to cook in those Middle Eastern countries?
‘First of all with the awareness that those are countries of many contrasts, very different from ours; both in their religions and in their gastronomy. We were able to know the traditions, their way of life, and their customs. In Saudi Arabia we offered a buffet, for a period of more than 15 days.
A dinner was held to celebrate the Mexican Independence at the Mexican Embassy and we prepared food for more than 300 people.
And then, during the Mexican Festival we arranged a buffet for 800 people.
What about Saudi Arabia?
‘We were able to prepare relleno negro with chicken, obviously we could not prepare anything with pork for religious reasons; We used achiotes, to make chicken and fish pibil style. We cooked mole poblano, mole verde; as well as other stews such as Mexican style meatballs with chipotle, refried beans and red rice.
As for the supplies you used, did you take Yucatecan ingredients or did you manage to cook without these products?
‘We took cuitlacoche, dried chiles: guajillo, chile ancho, chile morita; It was a pleasant surprise to see that the people of those countries loved the Yucatecan and Mexican food. And yes, it is difficult to cook in another country, for example “naranja agria” (sour orange) can be only found in Yucatan; and to obtain to those flavors we had to use substitute ingredients.
But for example, in Israel we could find green tomatoes, because there are Mexican food supplying companies. In Saudi Arabia we were also able to find corn tortillas, and other Mexican food items; but it was also thanks to the Embassies that we were able to take supplies from Mexico, mostly non-perishable products. ‘
What reactions did your guests have in those countries?
‘We found divided reactions, suddenly there were people immediately telling us that they felt a different flavor, it is something they had never tasted before, and they liked. I can assure you that this reaction always happens with Yucatecan food, (I bet that many people in Mexico have not tried relleno negro). so for these countries it was a totally exotic dish.
There were also people who are used to Tex-Mex food, and some of them told us -“This is not Mexican food, where are the burritos, and the quesadillas?” -so this is the perfect occasion to introduce them to real and original Mexican food and specially Yucatecan’ not that “Taco Bell” stuff…
What do these trips leave you personally?
“My mission is to make people realize that Mexico has a high potential in gastronomy, and that we can start distributing these products all over the world, creating great brands.
My mission and vision is to position Mexican and Yucatecan food internationally, but authentic Mexican and Yucatecan food. And I am sure that we achieved this purpose successfully during this journey.
I have visited more than eight countries representing Mexico as a chef: China, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Canada. And this allows Mexico and its cuisine to be better known around the world.”
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