UNESCO Names Traditional Mexican Food a World Cultural Treasure, Or: Michoacán Cuisine Finally Gets its Due

Much is being made of the recent report that UNESCO has deemed “traditional Mexican cuisine”–whatever the hell that means–as an intangible cultural heritage worthy of saving. But a close reading of the documents prepared for its nomination shows that most of the agency's praise is actually on the food traditions of Michoacán–and it's about damn time.

Michoacán cuisine has always gotten the short shrift from American acolytes, who obsess over the offerings of Oaxaca, Mexico City, the Yucatán and Veracruz a bit much. But few states have maintained such a close relationship to its traditional regional meals, whether by government support or popular love, a trend that UNESCO calls the Michoacán paradigm. Hopefully, this designation will get gabachos to try Michoacán-style restaurants more and get them to cook like the state.

Locally, ustedes are blessed: SanTana remains the capital of the Michoacán diaspora in the United States, even in the face of a decade-long invasion by chilangos and people from Guerrero. It seems you can't drive three blocks without hitting a carnitas spot or find a street vendor not hawking corundas (the inside-out tamales that strangely don't make it enough on Orange County menus). But the most realized Michoacán-style restaurant in la naranja remains Las Brisas de Apatzingán, which sells the uchepos (sweet corn tamales) that you see above and other dishes. What other dishes? Read my old review, broders...

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