Taste the Great Mexican Food Journey in Foxton

After attracting curious crowds in Wellington and Christchurch, the very famous colors and flavors of Mexico are now coming to Foxton.

The “De la Milpa a la Mesa: A Mexican Food Journey” exhibit will bring a taste of Latin America to Horowhenua during the holiday season.

State-of-the-art facilities and interactive gadgets, all about the country’s agricultural and culinary heritage, will be on display at Te Awahou Nieuwe Stroom from November 25 to the end of January.

“We wanted to do something different and exciting this holiday season, especially for families,” says Arjan van der Boon, Marketing Manager of Te Awahou Riverside Culture Park.

“With kids looking for something to do, parents can take them to our art gallery. They can play and learn all sorts of interesting things about a country with delicious cuisine. Most people are already familiar with tacos or guacamole. Now you can discover how to prepare Mexican dishes and learn about the fascinating and diverse culinary history that Mexico has to offer.

“De la Milpa a la Mesa” celebrates the richness of Mexican cuisine, from farms and markets to restaurants and home kitchens. Farmers, scientists, vendors and cooks from across Mexico share their unique perspectives on agriculture, climate change, food sovereignty and how their diverse communities deal with global concerns in their daily lives – concerns similar to those encountered in Aotearoa, New Zealand.

“What’s great about Foxton is always how the community comes together behind these kinds of initiatives,” says Arjan. “And this time, the cafes in our cultural park will serve Mexican dishes, while De Molen will grind corn flour in the windmill. Whānau can experiment with making their own tasty tortillas at home.

A program of events and a set of learning resources accompany “De la Milpa a la Mesa”, which will be shared with schools in Horowhenua, Manawatū, Whanganui and Kāpiti.

The exhibition, very well documented, was created within the framework of an international collaboration. It was developed through a partnership between the Museum and Heritage Studies (VUW) program at Te Herenga Waka Victoria University in Wellington and the Posgrado en Estudios y Prácticas Museales program at the Escuela Nacional de Conservación, Restauración y Museografía from the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (ENCRyM) in Mexico City. Seven postgraduate students in New Zealand and two in Mexico City carried out the development work, as part of a supervised internship under the Latin America Center of Excellence’s Cultural Sector Partnership Program for Asia -Pacific (LatAm CAPE).

The exhibit is the result of years of collaborative efforts between Dr. Lee Davidson of VUW and Dr. Leticia Pérez Castellanos of ENCRyM.

Commenting on the exhibit’s relevance to New Zealand, Dr Davidson said: “Many New Zealanders know little about Mexico beyond the stereotypes found in films and the media. In creating this exhibition, we wanted to share the richness and diversity of Mexican culture through something that New Zealanders can easily identify with: food and agriculture. Visitors will be surprised and inspired by the fascinating stories and people they meet in the exhibit.

Dr Pérez agrees: “As a Mexican who has been to New Zealand, I am amazed at the similarities and differences between our two countries, and I always hope that more New Zealanders will learn more about Mexico and vice versa. I am proud to participate in “De la Milpa a la Mesa” and to be able to communicate unique aspects of my culture, so that people can engage with it and be curious to learn and experience more. »

The first section of the exhibition, the ‘milpa’, highlights the importance of biodiversity and the critical role that small-scale farmers and scientists play in adapting to old and new threats to their ecosystems.

The “mercado” (or market) then offers an immersive experience with the sights, sounds and smells of Mexico’s many famous and varied neighborhood markets.

The “mesa” showcases the spectrum of culinary options, from home cooks preserving generations of recipes to upscale restaurant owners bringing cutting-edge Mexican cuisine to the world’s attention.

For a lasting taste of the exhibition, visitors can take home recipes from New Zealand’s Mexican communities to their own kitchens.

“The exhibition was informed by the latest thinking on cross-cultural museum practices and visitor engagement,” commented Dr. Matthew O’Meagher, director of CAPE Latin America, which supported the project.

“To do business with Latin America, New Zealanders must first know this region. We are therefore delighted to help New Zealanders discover the richness of Mexican culture and see the social and environmental similarities between us. The exhibition promotes intercultural dialogue on issues such as climate change, sustainability and the future of agriculture and consumption.

CAPE Latin America was established in July 2017 to bring New Zealand closer to Latin America. By combining academic experience with agile delivery systems, CAPE helps New Zealanders deepen sustainable, forward-looking growth and business relationships, and build knowledgeable schools and universities. It does this by providing evidence-based programs, events and tools that are made available to the general New Zealand public.

The Latin America Center of Asia-Pacific Excellence (LatAm CAPE) is hosting the exhibition, in partnership with Te Awahou Nieuwe Stroom, from November 25, 2022 to January 29, 2023.

From la Milpa a la Mesa – A Mexican gastronomic journey
Mapuna Kabinet Art Gallery
From Friday 25 November 2022 to Sunday 29 January 2023

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