Due to its location between north and south trade routes, the gastronomy of Durango is distinguished by the use of preservation techniques for corn and other ingredients.
Nestled in the northwestern region of Mexico, Durango is a state of great territorial extension that, due to its geographical location, is considered a “ door” to this area of the republic.
The character of its cuisine could be defined by its rugged terrain, extreme climate, and relative isolation from other urban centers, as well as by the traditions of its native peoples and their relationship with corn, explains Jimmie Vargas, vice president of the Conservatory of Mexican Gastronomic Culture, Durango Chapter.
The native peoples, among which the Tepehuanos, Mexicaneros, Coras, Rrámuris and Huichols stand out, have made Creole corn, mainly yellow and blue, one of the essential crops to survive.
“ The Cora group, for example, makes tamales that are very important in the trot and in all those movements that they practice, as well as in the changes of stewardship.
“In ‘El Bendito’, a household purification ceremony, they use corn in all its stages. It is used as a rod when the plant is cut and with it special chairs are adorned where the butlers sit ”, details the researcher of the Durango gastronomy.
He adds that, in the northern area, with a rarámuri presence, tortillas and tamales are used, in addition to the fact that tesgü ino is also made with corn, which is a fermentation that is made with the germinated grain of corn that is crushed, mixed with water and it ferments ”, he details.
Jimmie Vargas describes the territory as a door into the unknown. Historically Zacatecas first occupied this place, but then Durango became the mysterious and undiscovered part.
The passage of the Camino Real de Tierra Adentro -a historical commercial route of the Viceroyalty that connected Mexico City with Santa Fe, New Mexico, United States- allowed the capital of Durango to communicate with neighboring regions and share culinary traditions, especially those treatments so that food could be preserved and incorruptible for a long period of time.
“ We have four characteristic geographies: La Sierra, Los Valles, El Semidesierto and La Quebrada. In each one, the flora and fauna and, of course, the foods that are consumed change radically.
“ Duranguense cuisine is subsistence. Travel within the region has always been of great importance because it was a way of life. Many people were day laborers, people who left their domestic spaces and who needed food to withstand the inclement weather when transported. For this reason, our gastronomy seeks to make the most of the waste and everything that is left over is reused so that nothing is left of waste ”, he points out.
One of the most representative examples of the use of conservation techniques applied to corn are chuales, choales or jackals, as they are known.
” For this preparation, the corn kernels are cooked to later dehydrate in the sun. In this way, they can be stored and preserved, a method that helps them to be cooked later by rehydrating them with water and seasoning them with tomatoes, cumin, and onion”.
Raw corn, which is dry and ground corn without having been subjected to the nixtamalization process, is added to these techniques that lengthen the use of the grains.
” You can add eggs, orange and flour to raw corn to make coricos, a kind of biscuit,” says the specialist.
Another of the region’s specialties is ponteduros, a sweet made with tatemado blue corn mixed with brown sugar.
Currently, the Conservatory of Mexican Gastronomic Culture, Durango Chapter, has various dissemination projects carried out in coordination with public institutions, museums, and local universities.
Likewise, it is working in collaboration with the Antigua Usanza restaurant, in the capital to sell exclusively Durango cuisine, as well as in the preparation of a book of traditional recipes by the hand of cooks of the region called ” The Culinary Memory of Durango” that soon will come out.
” Fortunately, I started as a teacher at the Autonomous University of Durango and I have been able to bring the projects closer to the students so that they have this reflection of the importance of local cuisine as part of their professionalization as future gastronomes”, he concludes.
You can know all the work of the Conservatory of Mexican Gastronomic Culture Chapter Durango through its Facebook platform.