Decolonizing My Diet: The Basics

“The lesson of the pilgrims and the elder is that the food of empire, of stolen wealth, does not nourish the body or the soul. It does not sustain and it cannot be sustained.”

— Luz Calvo, Decolonize Your Diet

 

Decolonize Your Diet is not just a collection of healthy recipes that take cues from Mexican Indigenous cuisines; Calvo and Rueda Esquibel make an effort to tie these ingredients and recipes to culture and history.

Their MesoAmerican pantry list contains both things I’m familiar with (beans, honey, chia seeds, jícama) and things I’m not so familiar with (amaranth seeds, tequesquite, verdolagas).

I think the proposed meat substitutes are particularly interesting, though. Calvo and Rueda Esquibel propose an aguachiles dish (a kind of very spicy ceviche) with quinoa, a ceviche dish with cauliflower rather than seafood, and “hibiscus flower tacos”, for which hibiscus flowers provide a meaty texture. There are also more familiar recipes, like cucumber, jícama, and mango sticks doused in chile lime salt.

Such food and drink my children, have made you sluggish and they make it difficult for you to reach the place of your ancestors. Those foods will bring you death.

— from Historia de las Indias de Nueva España, Fray Diego Durán, sixteenth century

I think the recipes are accessible to beginning cooks, except for the tamales recipe, although I do see some of the ingredients as harder to find (and more expensive). Regardless, I like Calvo’s and Rueda Esquibel’s approach to everything. I think it is ultimately their introduction and call to decolonize that ties everything together, and would call to anyone who has any sort of Indigenous roots.

 

 

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