Traveling… through Baja California Sur gastronomy
By Jesus Corral
To delve into the theme of Baja California Sur gastronomy, it is important to look back in time to understand what has happened in recent years.
The three main tribes on the peninsula, the Cochimies, Guaycuras and Pericues, were nomads, somewhat reserved, and more dedicated to hunting than agriculture or fishing.
With the arrival of the Jesuit, Franciscan and Dominican missionaries came a big change in the variety of foods. Due to new crop techniques and products, and ways to take advantage of the incredible variety of marine species, the diet of Sudcalifornians began to substantially change.
Jesuit missionaries had a great impact on South Californian cuisine. They introduced spices and herbs such as parsley, garlic, saffron, lemon, coriander, cinnamon, cloves and oregano, basic ingredients in today’s recipes. The cooking techniques were perfected and passed down from generation to generation. As a result, today’s dishes are tasty delights.
Beef, venison, turtle, shark, marlin, tuna, manta ray and even snake have been main ingredients for years. However, some are now endangered species and cannot be harvested.
Different settlements, also called Yenecas, marinated these ingredients with fruit jellies, herbs and liqueurs. The mixture gave each area a distinctive cuisine and flavor, many of which are kept to this day in family recipes.
Another important factor in the gastronomic development of this region is the tourism success that has occurred over the last 50 years. It has made possible to explore techniques from around the world and merging them with native recipes and has caught the attention of world-class chefs who have established themselves in this state.
The opening of new hotels has also resulted in a very interesting variety of restaurants and cuisines. Today, we can enjoy French, Italian, Portuguese, Japanese, Argentine and many other dishes, but most of all, great quality Mexican food. In some cases, different styles are dramatically combined to create culinary masterpieces.
Interestingly, at the same time as what has been happening in this area of the peninsula, vineyards in the Guadalupe Valley have produced wines that magically pair with these dishes. In many cases, low production means these wines are only to be found in this country.
Some of the great gastronomic pleasures of Baja California Sur include artisanal mango candy made in San Dionisio, a variety of pitahaya recipes in Miraflores, marinated marlin in La Paz, stone oysters in San Carlos, the famous tatemadas clams in Loreto, tasty grilled stingray taquitos and the truly unique cochito in Mulege. The variety is enormous and so the infinite range of flavors.
Makes you hungry, does it not? Come to Baja California Sur.