Yucatecan chef demands traditional “Cocineras” not to be left out or forgotten

Elderly tzutujil mayan woman is baking tortillas on a metal sheet on wood fire

MÉRIDA, MX.- Yucatecan chef Miriam Peraza Rivero, president of Maestras del Fuego Yucatán, said she is concerned about the role that traditional female cooks will play in the development of the Tren Maya, but demands that they be named and that their dignity and knowledge be made visible, as they are an important pillar of regional gastronomy.

In her presentation “Where are the Mayan cooks?”, Peraza Rivero explained that today it is known about the existence of large projects such as the Mayan Train, for which billions of pesos are invested, but so far it has not been clear what role traditional cooks will play in its development.

“I have not heard anyone mention them or that they will be taken into account. They are the pillar of communities, they are mothers of our race and for example, in the midst of a pandemic, they have not allowed anyone in their homes to go hungry, because they take advantage of their knowledge and the resources they have,” she mentioned.

In spite of the promise that the Mayan Train will leave important economic benefits in its path, Chef Peraza expressed her concern for the communities that are in the path of the project.

Above all, she commented that a displacement of these communities would not be viable due to the risk of cultural loss.

“I hear that the lanes will be passing through Mayan communities, but if this were to cause relocation of the people, it would go against the very essence of a traditional cook. They are an important pillar and their work is intimately linked to their environment” she said.

She also said that she hopes that the Mayan cooks will have a leading role in the project’s restaurants, because that is what they deserve to have.

“Let’s hope that this is the case and that we don’t see them as waitresses, dishwashers or tortilla makers. So far I am not clear about the role they will have, but I hope it will be one that respects their stature, their mastery of knowledge, their names and their dignity and that they will not be folkloric ornaments, mere scenographies for travelers and tourists to take pictures,” he said.

She explained that this concern arises because she has already known of other experiences in which these cooks share their recipes with the people in charge of important restaurant chains and they are left in oblivion.

That is why she is calling on the people in charge of establishing the restaurants in the stations of the Tren Maya to suggest plans that are sensitive, respectful and appreciative of the culture of the communities in the area, and to give the right place to the traditional indigenous cocineras.

The Yucatan Times
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