Chefs Breakfast Culinary Showcase

May 20, 8:00 AM
“Tradition / Innovation

Comentario on the Culinary Showcase by Dr. Lilliana Patricia Saldaña

“Culinary Confluence of Spanish and Indigenous Ingredients: Intergenerational Convivencia”
By Dr. Lilliana Patricia Saldaña

This delectable breakfast menu represents the integration of ancestral foods in our day-to-day diet and the continuity of culinary traditions as Texas Mexican people, from preparing chilaquiles, to skillet bread, and atole—dishes that are made with millenary plant foods that have sustained our families and communities in the Texas Mexican region and beyond. The beauty of these foods lies in the intergenerational convivencia of preparing these foods, as recipes and family stories are shared and passed down from elders to the younger generations.

The Chilaquiles al Guajillo con Nopalitos by Chef Victoria Elizondo brings together foods that have been used by Indigenous people for millenia — maíz, dried mirasol peppers, and nopalitos. People of northern Mexico developed the culinary technology of dehydrating and smoking chiles which not only lengthened their use, but also contributed to rich and intense flavors and aromas. The nopalitos (from the Nahuatl word nopahlli) are also a staple of our diet, as they’ve been cultivated and domesticated for almost 9,000 years, along with corn, beans, and other native foods. They were the principal food of the Chichimecas of northern Mexico and continue to be a traditional food of Texas Mexican people.

Skillet Bread by Chef Arlene Kay O’Neal represents a dish of survival and thrivance. The Caddo lived in numerous settlements along the Red River in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana and were known for their food reserves and manufactured ceramics for cooking and storing their food—all based on their maiz agricultural economy. They also developed a horticultural way of life based on the Three Sisters diet of corn, squash, and beans, and relied on native plants like maygrass, amaranth, and sunflowers. Their lives were disrupted by U.S. settler colonialism and their foodways transformed by their displacement. This particular dish by Chef Kay O’Neal reflects her and her community’s survival as they learned to integrate European ingredients like flour with ancestral culinary techniques.

Pecan Amaranth Atole by Chef Rebel Mariposa bridges the Texas Mexico borderlands where pecans grow abundant, with central Mexico, which is where amaranth was also cultivated. Amaranth, which is rich with protein (more so than maiz), is native to present-day Texas, Mexico and Central America. Amaranth is a medicinal and culinary plant. The seeds of the amaranth plant can be used in atoles, pinoles, flours, horchatas, and breads. Before colonization, the nahuatl speaking people of Central Mexico would grind the seeds and mix it with maguey honey and make breads in the shape of Tezcatlipoca, Tlaloc, Chalchiuhtlicue, Coatlicue, Chicmoemcoatl for ceremonial rituals. In the Texas Mexican region, food practitioners continue to cultivate and use amaranth in ancestral drinks like atoles which connect us to the culinary legacies of our ancestors.

The recipes of of this breakfast showcase represent the reliance on native ingredients that have been grown in the Texas Mexican region for millenia, and also the culinary confluence of Spanish and Indigenous ingredients. Culinary knowledge that is handed forward, from one generation to the next, expresses meanings of history and identity, especially when enjoyed in community with others!