Pica, pero sabe (Spicy, but we know that): Recipes of traditional Mexican salsas

Recipes from different corners of the country that jog the memory and the palate.

Desvenando la tradición (2010) by Abel Rodríguez CarrilloSecretaría de Cultura

The Secretariat of Culture, through the Directorate General of Popular, Indigenous and Urban Cultures, with its program Las Semillas que nos Dieron Patria (The Seeds that Gave us our Homeland), in support of the initiative of the National Coordination of Historical and Cultural Memory of Mexico, called for participants in the video recipes contest with the aim of recognizing the diversity of the Mexican chili through the different ways of preparing salsas and pickles.

Cocineras nahuas (2014) by Claudia Alejandra Pureco SánchezSecretaría de Cultura

Taking into account family legacies and local products, the program Pica, Pero Sabe (Spicy, but We Know That) was a taste and memory contest using video recipes of popular Mexican salsas during the lockdown because of the Covid 19 pandemic.

In Tlacualli in Coyoaltepetl, Comida del pueblo de Coyotepec (2012) by Guillermo López BarreraSecretaría de Cultura

The fundamental objective is to recover and strengthen the work of chefs, producers and processors of local, traditional and indigenous foods, which are part of the gastronomic legacy inherited by the diverse cultures of our country.

Sabor y olor (2020) by Greta Brígida Padilla VelascoSecretaría de Cultura

Twenty women and one man participated in the contest, with ages ranging from 12 to 80 years, with participation from the states of Oaxaca, Tlaxcala, Hidalgo, Veracruz, Zacatecas, Guanajuato and CDMX. It highlights the cultural diversity of 6 indigenous peoples (Mixtec, totonac, Otomi and Nahuatl) and the participation of one Afro-Mexican woman from Veracruz.

Los sabores de tu tierra (2012) by Margarita Castellanos VegaSecretaría de Cultura

It highlights the use and appreciation of various local ingredients such as chile guajillo (guajillo chili), xoconostle (xoconostle cactus fruit), charales (fish), chile chipotle (chipotle chili), shawis (beetle), peanut, honeycomb, coconut, Creole plum, hormiga chicatana (chicatana ant), chile amarillo (yellow chili), Creole potato, coyul (Mexican fruit), cebollín (scallion), epazote (Mexican tea), traditional salt of Zapotitlán, guaje (leucaena plant), tomato, ajonjolí (sesame), laurel, onion, cinnamon and tools such as the clay comal (griddle), gourd, molcajete (mortar), metate (mealing stone), wooden serving spoons, ecological stove.

Sazón matutino (2020) by Estefanía Luna TovarSecretaría de Cultura

Each video follows a structure where local production, cultural identity, knowledge transmission and life stories are appraised. Let's discover some of these delicious recipes.

Salsa de ajuiyactzin de Citlaltepetl (2020) by Marcela Aurelio de la CruzSecretaría de Cultura

Salsa "La sabrosita de Citlaltépetl"

The chef Marcela Aurelio de la Cruz presents us with this delicious salsa from the town of Citlotépetl in Veracruz. The mixture of different varieties of chili and other ingredients creates an ideal combination to accompany egg, cheese, cottage cheese and chorizo.

Salsa del fruto de la papa (2020) by Manuela Salvadora Jiménez JiménezSecretaría de Cultura

Salsa del fruto de la papa (Potato fruit salsa)

The chef Manuela Salvadora Jiménez de Huajuapan from León, Oaxaca shares this recipe made with potatoes, dried chili, garlic and salt. In this video we can appreciate the use of the molcajete (mortar), an essential tool in traditional Mexican cooking.

Salsa más pobre (2020) by Cira Cortés San JuanSecretaría de Cultura

"La salsa más pobre"

Cira Cortés San Juan presents this recipe from Papantla, Veracruz. We see that she grinds chilis with a metate (mealing stone), another essential tool of Mexican cuisine for grinding ingredients. Although it has few ingredients, the salsa más pobre (poorest salsa) is abundant in flavors.

Salsa de chipotle seco y charales (2020) by Alexa Jocabed Martínez RodríguezSecretaría de Cultura

Salsa de chipotle seco y charales (Dried chipotle and fish salsa)

The young Alexa Martínez Rodríguez, from Huamantla, Tlaxcala, presents this recipe from her great grandmother Manuela Bautista. Here we can see how many of these recipes persist as a vital family legacy for generations. 

Salsa borracha (2020) by Albina Rodríguez MataSecretaría de Cultura

"Salsa borracha" (Drunk salsa)

This salsa that Albina Rodríguez Mata shares from Mexico City gets its name because it includes pulque. This ancestral drink is made from the fermented sap of the agave, giving the salsa a unique and delicious flavor.

Salsa de panal (teyaa yoko) (2020) by Catarina Gertrudis Galicia SandovalSecretaría de Cultura

"Teyaa Yoko": Salsa de panal (Honeycomb salsa)

According to the chef Catarina Galicia Sandoval from Cosoltepec Oaxaca, she learned to make the salsa de panal (honeycomb salsa) or teyaa yokofrom a young age when she went with her father to collect the ingredients, including the xoconostle cactus fruit and the honeycomb with which the salsa is made.

These recipes are a small example of the vast range of ingredients and stories that are part of traditional Mexican cuisine. In each of them we see the living legacy of Mexican families and the important role of local ingredients in the dishes.

Credits: Story

Participating chefs:
Albina Rodríguez Mata—Salsa borracha (Drunk salsa)

Alexa Jocabed Martínez Rodríguez—Salsa de chipotle seco y charales (Dried chipotle and fish salsa)

Catarina Galicia Sandoval—Salsa de panal (Honeycomb salsa)

Cira Cortés San Juan—Salsa la más pobre (Poorest salsa)

Manuela Salvadora Jiménez—Salsa del fruto de la papa (Potato fruit salsa)

Marcela Aurelio de la Cruz—Salsa la sabrosita de Citlaltépetl (The tastiest salsa of Citlaltépetl)

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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