Thursday, February 18, 2010

La COMIDA en Rebeldia

Since the attempted gastronomic conquest by Spanish missionaries during the early 16th century, Indigenous-Mesoamerican gastronomy, over 80% maize-based, has been heavily seasoned with rebel herbs, spices and communities that continue to resist culinary imperialism- the imposition of European patriarchal, gluttonous-heavily carnivorous, salt & sugar Mother Earth destroying diets.

Today, the destructive face of globalization’s response to world hunger has been lead by a low-intensity genocidal regime continually marketing and manipulating us to believe eating a daily heavily animal based diet is part of our identities as Xican@-Latin@, African, Asian, Pacific Islander peoples and Diasporas. Despite this western-patriarchal paradigm that puts profit over human and ecological health, a rich and vibrant legacy of a culinary rebellion continues to preserve ancestral seeds, plant-based foods, healthy bodies, and ecological balance in what is today called Mexico and the U.S. Southwest.

As a local response to the globalization of food, taste and disease, la COMIDA, was carefully prepared by combining an intricate trenza of herbs, spices and community. COMIDA has a unique flavor which communicates a collective grassroots memory of Food as Sacred. Many of us, people of color, have forgotten the fundamental understanding that the health of our bodies is dependent on the health of our community: land, air, water, animals, and plants. As a result of this forgetting, cardiovascular, obesity, cancer and diabetes, colonial food related diseases, have spread wildly. In addition, the production of colonial-modern foods is the contributing factor to the drying and contamination of rivers, lakes, and water sheds; deforestation, and other ecological disasters.

La COMIDA is seasoned with knowledge that rejects Eurocentric superior food complexes which have infiltrated our minds and made us to believe that our ancestral COMIDA’s (foods), heavily plant-based, were signifiers of inferiority. Tasting COMIDA stimulates the bodily sensory way of knowing (taste, smell, touch, sight and sound) in such a flavorable way that gente de maize scream ¡Liberacion!

Not to be confused with the affluent White community led vegan and raw food movement, COMIDA’s call to action is part of a growing movement from below to radically help people of color Remember and Honor our own Food as Sacred. Also, COMIDA lends a critical perspective into understanding the Latino Health Paradox. That is, when looking at the foodways of first generation migrant communities in the U.S. one will find that these are heavily plant based and a testament to the legacy of gastronomia en rebeldia. A lesson from which many of us more acculturated folks who seek healing and decolonized minds, bodies and spirits can take and apply to our own daily practice. By taking on a plant based diet and remembering food as sacred, only then can we begin to heal our Aztlan, Tonanztin, Mother Earth.

Cocina, a place reclaimed as a space of truth, healing and liberation.

Ollin, healing in movement.

reMembering, the act of recovering the sacredness of foodways, for the survival of our existence, our relations and of our next seven generations.

Inter-gastronomia, the relationship between cultures, foods, cooking and eating in the Americas before culinary imperialism.

De Aztlan, the sacredness of human bodies, la madre tierra and ecological communities: plant, land, animal and seed.


  1. Always good to see a new posting here. Some thoughts: while foods can be sacred, ceremonial (las tres hermanas - squash, bean, corn - that follow medicine ceremonias) and assigned particular social and cosmological status (for instance chocolate which is an indigenous product was for high born mexicas, thought to have hallucinatory properties, taken in small quantities and named "heart and blood") I would also say that food is and has been commonplace, casual, every day and that is also not to be discounted. And while it is true that many of our peoples were/are/can be again plant based in diet and healing, we have also incorporated animal into our eating though as the edge, not center, of meal/plate (por ejemplo, carne seca). It is also true that if California industrial cow slaughter didn't use nearly half the state's water supply we would be in better economic and ecological conditions. Check out Hortense Spillers' essay Peter's Pans: Eating in the Diaspora where she analyzes US settler colonialism, chattel slavery, the Olmec controversy through the foodways.
    Ricardo Bracho
    P.S. We should have a precolonial cook-off some time.

  2. Indeed hermano! Ceremony in general is not necisarily an everyday action. Ceremony typically is organized from begining to end with a specific outcome desired. Ritual however is rooted with intention, it involves inviting the spirit and surrendering to the spirit and has no expected outcome except for whatever the spirit desires. Ritual is an everyday action such as meditating, greeting the other, and Eating food all with an expressed intention. I believe that eating food or COMIDA is more of a ritual that involves expressing an intention that honors the most sacred connection between our spirit and the spirit of Mother Earth- Tonanztin. This ritual is not limited to or defined so much by what we eat but rather rooted in how we eat what nuestra Madre Tierra provides us with: carne seca (eaten mostly as a snack by non-sedintary peoples constanly on the move, highly active and burning calories) or tamales de papa con chile verde prepared mostly by sedintary peoples (also very active but not necissarly always on the move).

    What is most important to me is restoring the ritual of food and eating. For this everyday action creates a sacred space for the spirit to be welcomed and for us to be reconnected as whole individual selves and as a community together with land and Creator.

    Food is just one ritual that we must all and need to take part in celebrating along with; minful greetings, passionate intimacy, and meditation. For these things give us the strength to maitain healthy relationships with All Our Relations. Ashe!

    Siempre listo for the pre/de-colonial cook outs! Let's put it together and celebrate the everyday forms of Comida en Rebeldia...Tlazokamtli por tus palabras hermano!

  3. Palabra to the passionate intimacy pedazo. I like what you say re: ritual. So, like daily prayers, you want comida to be a moment of health, connection, intention? I'm down but how does that work in pan-religious/multi-ethnic/somewhat secular contexts? We'll have to get my homie Loras Ojeda to throw down his 5 generations old enchiladas rojas de papa desde nuevo mexico.