Home LifestyleArt and Culture A taste of Yucatan in France

A taste of Yucatan in France

by Magali Alvarez
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Wilson Alonzo is a traditional cook from Halachó and a few days ago he taught a cooking class at the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu school in France. Wilson did not travel alone, he was accompanied by his stones, Yucatecan ingredients and, above all, he carried in his hands, mind and heart, years of legacy and ancestral techniques of Yucatecan cuisine.

Despite the time difference between Mexico and France, Wilson smilingly attended the zoom interview and began by telling of his nervousness about presenting himself at the French school because of the system they handle, he emphasizes that he did not feel that coldness that they talk so much about Europeans, although he said, they are very methodical.

“For them one plus one is two, in Yucatecan cooking you can get three or four depending on what you do with the ingredients, the issue of working with an induction stove made noise to me, not because I didn’t know it, but for me fire brings aromas, textures and colors,” she said.

The dish chosen for this traditional cooking class was chicken pibil, for this, Wilson explained that the original recipe includes making a well in the ground, putting wood, stones, leaves and a series of steps that the French did not fully understand, to help them, he gave them a leaf used a week before in the preparation of chicken pibil.

“The leaf smelled of earth, charcoal, stone, chicken, it smelled of Yucatán, for me as a cook wherever I go I take my aromas, my techniques and ingredients and the techniques of our grandmothers, grandfathers and fathers and I seek to transmit that to those who are going to taste the food, or prepare it, because cooking should be in the hands of whoever wants to do it.”

As they smelled the leaves, those present in the class had a journey through the aromas of each ingredient permeating, “close your eyes and imagine that you are with me in Halachó making a pib, that’s what a pib smells like and that’s what Yucatán smells like,” Wilson told them.

The moment of preparation flowed, some students participated and followed the cook’s instructions, “you have to learn how to put the leaves, close them and tie them so the broth doesn’t spill,” Wilson told them, and although it seems simple, it is an art.

“When they opened the pibil in the room, at that moment a series of aromas and sensations that flooded the room were released, at that moment I felt a pibil from Halachó in France,” says Wilson very excited.

“When they tasted the food and tasted it, for a moment they disconnected, looking for that smell and taste in their memory, that is something that happens a lot to us cooks, although they did not succeed completely, because it was something new, but they did recognize some flavors,” he said.

Wilson Alonzo considers that there is a responsibility to learn in order to teach and that it is necessary to understand that cooks must be universal, adapting to places and times, but without losing their essence or original techniques.

“When I go somewhere I can take my roots with me, but I am also open to understand that every cuisine is different and every place has different tools and I must be able to adapt, without forgetting where we come from only then will we transcend.”

Wilson says that the stones he carried add a unique flavor to the food, I believe they are that element that unites him with his kitchen in Halachó, and remind him that through his hands the world can know and taste a bite of Yucatán.

TYT Newsroom

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