Mexico City’s dining scene is exploding.
With award-winning restaurants like Enrique Olvera’s Pujol and Eduardo García‘s Máximo Bistrot, the city’s dining options are increasingly gaining international recognition, and eager tourists are taking note.
While the farm-to-table idea is not new in the food world, some higher-end restaurants in Mexico City are beginning to source their ingredients directly from the famed floating gardens of Xochimilco. Sometimes referred to as the “Mexican Venice” for its canals and brightly colored boats, Xochimilco is home to gardens that use ancient cultivation techniques to produce over 2.5 tons of food per month.
With the help of a business called Yolcan, Xochimilco’s produce is now being served in Mexico City’s most acclaimed restaurants. Ahead, a look at the techniques used there.
This technique of farming, known as chinampa, has been used since before the time of the Aztecs. It was then that farmers created the “floating” islands, which are bound to the shallow canal beds through layers of sediment and willow roots.
Source: Associated Press
Fennel, root vegetables, kale, chard, and herbs, like epazote, are all grown here.
Celebrated chef Eduardo Garcia, founder of Máximo Bistrot, uses produce from Xochimilco and other local farms for about two-thirds of the ingredients on his menu.
Although getting produce from the Xochimilco farms is generally more expensive than buying wholesale, chefs swear by the quality and stress the importance of buying local.
“I think all of the world’s restaurants should make it a goal to use these alternative ingredients,” García told AP.
The coveted tables at Máximo Bistrot, which are usually booked weeks in advance, prove that quality wins. “We’ve eaten in 26 countries around the world, and for the price and quality, this was awesome,” Kristin Kearin, a 35-year-old tourist from the United States, told the Associated Press.
Yolcan, the business that’s helping distribute produce to restaurants like Gabriela Camara’s seafood joint Contramar and Enrique Olvera’s Pujol, also has its own land.
Yolcan’s operation is 15 acres, and it creates about 2.5 tons of produce per month.
However, these farms are being threatened by pollution and the rapid urbanization of the surrounding area.
The area has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Tourists can explore the canals on boats, hear live music, and see the farms in action.
“People sometimes think [farm-to-table] is a trend,” García told AP. “It’s not a trend. It’s something that we humans have always done, and we need to keep doing it, we need to return to it.”