Chef David Cetina is a true international gastronomic ambassador of the “Land of Pheasant and Deer”, as well as creator of culinary wonders in his restaurant La Tradición. And now, Chef Cetina will start to contribute with editorial collaborations on La Verdad Noticias.
What is it to be Yucatecan? They ask me when I go to other places in Mexico or when I cook abroad.
I answer proudly that to talk about Yucatan is to mention its traditions, customs and history… So I close my eyes and go back to the past, imagine my ancestors, pause, take a deep breath and feel the smell of smoke from my grandmother’s kitchen… All of the sudden, I am a child again.
I remember the family meals on Sundays, where we all met in the house of my chichi (grandmother) to enjoy a rich stew of three meats made with firewood and chicken, beef, pork and vegetables such as plantain, purple sweet potato, chayote, potato, Yucatecan squash, carrot, rutabaga, cabbage, cole, corn and tender ibis, chickpeas and (yes, they had to be the famous brand of Yucatan), with saffron, Spanish seasoning and yellow rice with radish, cilantro sauce, a slice of lime and fresh avocado … of course we could not miss our habanero chile (k’utbil iik).
Some of us arer already drooling as we read these lines, and we have allowed ourselves to time travel to a distant past that allows us to reunite with those long gone but not forgotten.
I used to love that my grandmother ‘puch’ (crush or squeeze) all my vegetables. No doubt I was pampered by her, and then became the succesor of her unique seasoning, knowledge and more than anything the secret ingredients that made me the Chef I am today. I inherited her love for the local gastronomy. She always said to me: ‘Son, one day you will be a great Chef and you will have your own restaurant’. If my grandmother lived today, she would be proud to see how far I have taken her traditional cuisine flavors.
Being a chef has been my job over the last 27 years, promoting and investigating the origins of our culinary customs. In this way I make our culture known to the world, since the traditional cuisine of Yucatan deserves to be recognized for its very high specialty.
When I travel, I try to take the local ingredients that create the magic of our flavors. I am very demanding with our kitchen, I respect and take care of every detail, because the world deserves to know that in Yucatan there is a culinary history, more complete, varied, and specialized than any other world famous cuisine.
I’m chef David Cetina and I’m proud to be Yucatecan … to have been born in the land of the Mayab.
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