Univision/Fusion reporter Jorge Ramos, an American citizen who was born in Mexico, was eloquent in his praise of a gourmet meal he enjoyed in the tourist zone near Tulum -- an ancient Maya walled city in Mexico’s Quintana Roo state on the Yucatan peninsula. Paying tribute to Danish chef René Redzepi of NOMA restaurant fame, who prepared a sumptuous meal based on local cuisine, Ramos wrote, “I’ve never had a meal like this, and may never taste its equal again. It was, simply put, a one-of-a-kind experience that may be impossible to repeat.”

Noting that Redzepi had come to Tulum earlier this year and established a pop-up restaurant for just seven weeks, Ramos said that the gourmet chef “7,000 reservations to NOMA Mexico at $600 each. All of them were snatched up within two hours. The stakes were as high as the price tag.”

Ramos wrote that Redzepi transformed a parking lot into a “laboratory of gastronomic experimentation,” and brought 100 of NOMA’s employees from Copenhagen to launch a “culinary revolution” whereby he set “about reimagining Mexican cuisine.” Ramos asked, “What sort of experience could a renowned foreign chef create while using the local ingredients available to Mexicans?” He answered, “The result was truly an epiphany. Redzepi and his team tasted the same food I grew up with in Mexico, but they saw it with a fresh perspective. They deconstructed it, rethought it and reassembled it precisely.”

The famed bilingual journalist enthused about tortillas stuffed with grasshoppers, seaweed marinated in beer, and octopus “cooked for hours in maize dough inside a clay vase.” In addition, Ramos and his five dinner companions ate ant eggs, pork tacos, and for dessert, there was grilled avocado ice cream capped off by chocolate with chile.

Speaking with pride for his native country, albeit with recognition of its persistent problems, Ramos wrote that with the same food available to anyone, Redzepi and the other foreigners created something entirely different. “When they speak about México, they aren’t thinking of mass graves, election rigging, spying or corruption. No, they think of endless possibilities and resources — a joyful, almost magical place with solidarity and “the prettiest service in the world,” as an American hotelier put it.”

Overflowing with national pride for Mexico, despite his American citizenship, Ramos’ coda for the article was: “I wish every Mexican could see their country with the same optimism, respect and hope with which Redzepi and his associates did. When the meal was over, I hugged the chef and told him: ‘Thanks for letting me see my country in a different way.’”

Ramos has frequently reported on diplomatic relations between the United States and Mexico, and has tangled with Donald Trump on issues such as immigration and Latino identity during the 2016 presidential election. 

According to Mexico’s National Survey of Household Income and Expenditure, the average household consists of 3.8 members and earns $843 (13,239 pesos) a month or $2,529 (39,719 pesos) per quarter. The lowest stratum in the nation of 120 million received an average of $481 (7,556 pesos) per quarter. Households in the poorest strata spent an average of 50.7 percent of their income on food, beverages, and tobacco in 2014.
 



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Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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