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The Feed To Go: Mexico City

Matthew Odam

I visited Mexico City for my most recent dining-on-the-road column. The wonderful people and excellent food — from street vendors to one of the world’s best restaurats — left an indelible impression. Below are three stories from that trip. The first take a look at the dining scene; the second is a profile of two chefs working to preserve tradition in their restaurants and the third is a profile of designer and former Austinite Balir Richardson, who works with some of Austin’s most popular restaurants from her office in Mexico City.

How integral is food to Mexico City’s culture? My taxi driver from the airport offered me a plate of her chicken tinga tacos. From a covered platter she kept inside her cab. She didn’t try to sell them to me. She wanted to give them to me, to welcome me with a taste of her native Mexico City. And maybe to show off a little for the food writer. (Click here to continue reading.)

Ricardo Muñoz Zurita couldn’t understand why he had to move to the United States to attend culinary school. His native Mexico had rich and myriad culinary traditions, yet, in the early 1980s, the country didn’t have its own culinary academy.

He was forced to move to San Diego to study the culinary arts, followed by training at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. When he returned to Mexico, Muñoz Zurita discovered the fine dining scene at Mexican restaurants was emulating French influences. Traditional Mexican cooking was reserved for the home or dinner parties. (Click here to continue reading.)

Some familiar restaurant signs and brands in Austin could carry a little “Hecho in Mexico” notification. When you drive down South First Street and spot the excellent Lenoir’s chic gold-and-black nametag-style sign or stand in line for hours staring at the retro pop art logo of Franklin Barbecue, you’re looking at work created in Mexico City by former Austin-based designer Blair Richardson.

Just minutes after midnight on Jan. 1, 2009, at a party in Marfa, the life of the Virginia native took an unexpected turn. She met the soft-spoken and charming Jorge Munguía Matute, a producer of cultural projects in Mexico City. When the next New Year arrived, she was living in Mexico. (Click here to continue reading.)

Don’t want to read? You can listen to me talk to KUT’s Nathan Bernier about my trip to the Mexican capital.