Alquimista de los Sabores: Gastronomic Heritage, Gender, and the Tourist Imaginary in Mexico



gastronomic heritage, gender, culinary tourism, Oaxaca, Mexico


Through multi-sited fieldwork carried out in 2011 and 2014-17 in central Oaxaca and an analysis of secondary sources, this paper scrutinizes the rise of a culinary celebrity, Zapotec cook Abigail Mendoza Ruíz of Teotitlán del Valle, Oaxaca, in the broader context of a Mexican cultural politics of food as heritage. Focusing on food-related biography this essay reveals vernacular dynamics of heritagization of native foodways and the role renowned female cooks (cocineras) have played in this process. I scrutinize negotiations and contestations as well as open conflicts related to the representation of heritage, the politics and rights between different actors engaged over the years in (re)constructing a social imagery of ethnic female cooking for the benefits of the tourism industry, and, more broadly, state attempts at re-branding Mexico as a safe gastronomic destination.

Author Biography

Renata Hryciuk, University of Warsaw (Poland)

Institute of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology


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