2012 New World Cuisine:Chocolate Mate y Mas
Where did our favorite foods come from? That hearty Mediterranean pasta sauce, for example, was made from tomatoes that first grew in Central and South America and were taken by ship to Europe. The tomato has traveled farther and been incorporated into more cuisines than any other food.
Likewise, the indigenous people of the Americas had never seen a cow or tasted beef, milk, or cheese until European explorers brought livestock to their shores. The arrival of domesticated animals greatly enhanced the diets of native people. These are only two examples of how the exploration of the New World beginning with Columbus influenced cuisine all over the world.
A major new exhibit titled New World Cuisine: The Histories of Chocolate, Mate, y Mas, at the Museum of International Folk Art explores these many fascinating connections. The exhibit, which opens this December 9 and runs until January, 2014, will feature more than 300 objects related to the gathering, preparation, serving, and storage of food. The histories of chocolate and mate are of particular interest and are illustrated by the many decorative cups, sippers, stirrers, and pots used to make the popular beverages. Both originated in the Americas. Mate is an ancient caffeinated, tea-like brew that is still widely consumed all over South America. The Aztec Indians used chocolate in ceremonies, but it was the Spanish who discovered that the addition of sugar or honey to the bitter taste created pure bliss. Both chocolate and mate transcend mere food status in their cultural importance.
It is very fitting that this exhibit is in Santa Fe. New Mexico was historically a Spanish Colony and Santa Fe was its capital. Beginning in 1598 with the arrival of the first Spanish settlers, the city played a role in the vast, world-wide food exchange. The Spanish brought livestock, seeds for chile peppers, fruit trees, and even the first grapes that were grown to produce wine in North America. Those blended with the local staples of beans, corn, and squash to form the roots of the unique cuisine that still flourishes in Santa Fe.
There will be many special events related to New World Cuisine. The grand opening on December 9 at the museum will feature music, chocolate tastings, and a gourd painting demonstration. Other events throughout the run of the exhibit will be announced. The Santa Fe School of Cooking has partnered with the museum to offer a number of cooking classes in its new location at 125 North Guadalupe Street. They will include classes on adobo, a traditional marinade, chocolate, and the three sisters—corn, squash, and beans. The School of Cooking will donate part of the proceeds to the museum.