Michoacán cuisine: Keeping the Purépecha tradition alive

The state of Michoacán has a gastronomic offering both rich and historical, where the culture of the indigenous Purépecha adopts ingredients from other parts of the world. But behind these dishes are the traditional chefs giving continuity to this story.

Metate tradicional, molienda (2021-01-01) by Secretaría de Turismo del Estado de MichoacánConservatory of the Mexican Gastronomic Culture

Michoacán cuisine: Cooking of surprises

Chef Alicia Gironella and gastronomist Giorgio D'Angeli claim that the state of Michoacán belongs to the Cocinas de las Sorpresas (Surprise cooking) region, because the variety of raw materials available is almost unlimited.

Paisaje Volcán de Parikutin (2021-01-01) by Secretaría de Turismo del Estado de MichoacánConservatory of the Mexican Gastronomic Culture

Geographically it has different climates, soils, coast, bodies of water, mountains and coastline that generate this wealth of natural resources and food products, giving rise to the great diversity of dishes and drinks that characterizes the Michoacán cuisine.

Platillo tradicional elaborado por Rosario Santa Fe (2021-01-01) by Secretaría de Turismo del Estado de MichoacánConservatory of the Mexican Gastronomic Culture

In the words of the historian Luis González y González, in the book Michoacán a la mesa (Michoacán at the table), "the gastronomy of Michoacán is vast because of the wide variety of raw materials and by the triple cultural heritage: Purhé, Spanish and Philippine. The antojitos (street food) have a mainly Indian heritage; the cometungas, European, and the exotic dishes, Asian."

Artesanías de Santa Clara del Cobre (2021-01-01) by Secretaría de Turismo del Estado de MichoacánConservatory of the Mexican Gastronomic Culture

In the family recipe books published since the 19th century, this culinary richness is recorded accompanied by protocols of the table, as well as the utensils and tools used for conservation, preparation and consumption.

Benedicta Alejo, Cocinera tradicional (2020-05-02) by Secretaría de Turismo del Estado de MichoacánConservatory of the Mexican Gastronomic Culture

Living fusion

Indigenous heritage is very present, especially in the lakes and La Cañada regions of the 11 towns. The Spanish heritage has a greater influence in the larger cities, such as Morelia, Pátzcuaro, Uruapan, Zitácuaro and the region of Tierra Caliente, where agricultural and livestock products bring uniqueness to the table.

Cazo de cobre de Santa Clara del Cobre (2019-03-20) by Secretaría de Turismo del Estado de MichoacánConservatory of the Mexican Gastronomic Culture

This culinary richness is accompanied by a great variety of utensils for the table and the kitchen: the large jars for storing grains or water of Cocucho or Zipiajo; the pans where the communal food is prepared during family and religious celebrations of Zinapécuaro; hammered copper pots for the carnitas" (pulled pork) of Santa Clara del Cobre; spoons, grinders, trays, storage rooms and carved wooden utensils from Pátzcuaro, Cuanajo and Pamatácuaro.

Fogón de Rosario Santa Fe (2020-01-04) by Secretaría de Turismo del Estado de MichoacánConservatory of the Mexican Gastronomic Culture

In recent years, the re-evaluation by the Michoacán themselves of their regional cuisines has promoted the opening of a large number of places to eat, as well as the traditional markets, street markets, cenadurías (Mexican restaurants) and picnic areas.

Metate tradicional (2020-05-01) by Secretaría de Turismo del Estado de MichoacánConservatory of the Mexican Gastronomic Culture

Of pre-Hispanic origin, there are also the volcanic metates (mealing stones) and molcajetes (mortars) from Turícuaro; tables are adorned with glazed or high temperature burnished clay crockery from Tzintzuntzan, Capula, Santa Fe de la Laguna and Huáncito, as well as the untangling for the 14 tablecloths of San Felipe de los Herreros and the embroidery of Zacán, they all show the variety and validity of customs and traditions in the kitchen preserve and recreate.

Carnitas Michoacanas La Conspiración (2020-05-02) by Secretaría de Turismo del Estado de MichoacánConservatory of the Mexican Gastronomic Culture

The pork that arrived with the Spaniards in the 16th century took a certificate of naturalization in this area of the country with the carnitas (pulled pork), prepared in large copper pans, chorizos, longaniza (sausage) and other sausages, as well as the cueritos (pork crackling) in vinegar.

Maíz de colores (2020-10-11) by Secretaría de Turismo del Estado de MichoacánConservatory of the Mexican Gastronomic Culture

Natural wealth and the Michoacán dishes

The variety of tamales, atoles (drinks), pozoles (stew) that are based on corn; fresh water fish; fruit preserves and quince jelly; "milk sweet"; salted and sweet breads; distilled beverages such as mezcal and charanda (rum-type spirit); the fresh waters and the salsas, adobes and moles that use the great variety of chilis that are produced in the state are a gastronomic range that varies depending on the time of year, the customs and traditions of daily, festive and ritual.

Comida tradicional Michoacana (2019-04-19) by Secretaría de Turismo del Estado de MichoacánConservatory of the Mexican Gastronomic Culture

 Atápakuas (vegetable stew) warrants special mention, of pre-Hispanic origin, enriched with products that today form part of the everyday in the Michoacán cuisine. In  Recetario de Cocina Indígena y Popular (Indigenous and Popular Cuisine Recipe Book) dedicated to this dish, they are defined as "a thick salsa that is prepared by grinding certain chilis, vegetables and spices that are added to certain guisos (stews) of meat, mushroom, vegetables, seeds and quelites (green vegetables) to which a thickener, usually corn, is added"

Corundas michoacanas (2019-03-01) by Secretaría de Turismo del Estado de MichoacánConservatory of the Mexican Gastronomic Culture

The variety of atoles (drinks), tamales, and antojitos (street food) of the Michoacán cuisine are a good example of the natural and cultural diversity of the state.
Atoles made of fruit, of roasted cocoa husks or salted bean; wheat tamales to accompany the atoles of acidic fruits such as zitún (olive) and tamarind, other sweet or salty wrapped in the leaves that cover the corn cob or those of the leaf of the same plant called corundas (type of tamale) in triangular shape.

Pescado elaborado por la cocinera tradicional Martha Zirahuen (2019-05-10) by Secretaría de Turismo del Estado de MichoacánConservatory of the Mexican Gastronomic Culture

The lake region offers as well as the delicate white fish, charals, carps, frogs, trout, bream and other species with which many dishes are prepared that are offered during traditional festivities.

Cocineras tradicionales de la región lacustre de Michoacán (2019-07-29) by Secretaría de Turismo del Estado de MichoacánConservatory of the Mexican Gastronomic Culture

The role of traditional cookers

Teachers and guardians of this know-how and these customs are the traditional chefs, such as Juana Bravo, Antonina González and Benedicta Alejo, in the lake zone; or Victoria González de Apatzingán, in La Tierra Caliente. But also now, inspired by these traditions and making use of the richness of regional flora and fauna, gastronomes like Lucero Soto and Cynthia Martínez offer in their restaurant dishes that mark the changes in today's Michoacán.

Pesca tradicional michoacana (2018-05-29) by Secretaría de Turismo del Estado de MichoacánConservatory of the Mexican Gastronomic Culture

In the numerous dishes that make up the Michoacán cuisine there is a rich encounter between the resources of the region and the ancestral knowledge of the women who keep history alive through their dishes.

Credits: Story

Text: Sol Rubín de la Borbolla, CCGM

Pictures: Ministry of Tourism from Michoacán State

Edit: Ana Gabriela de la Rosa Avitia 

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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