The Mexican restaurateur uses Creole corn to maintain the flavors of Miami’s ancestors

Miami, (EFE).- “Creole” corn, without genetic changes and grown in peasant communities in Latin America, is what Lalo Durazo, a Mexican restaurateur who does not resort to “fusions” to satisfy the international diners of Miami, brings to the table.

“We’re not fusion, we don’t want to invent the sleeveless vest,” Durazo, a restaurant owner in the United States and Spain, told EFE.

“We are Mexicans, it is Mexican food from the roots,” he emphasizes, noting that he is looking for recipes that have been part of Mexican culture for generations.

The taste of blue corn

Durazo explains that the blue corn he uses “was not created by Mother Nature, but mixed by pre-Hispanic cultures” and is part of the more than 70 varieties of this ancestral product that some farmers still grow.

He points out that other corn varieties were created or genetically modified for large-scale production and therefore lack the “nutritional quality, flavor and texture” of criollo.

“No one wants to use domestic corn anymore because it is not economically profitable,” says Durazo, who points out that the purpose is also to purchase this crop from the farmers themselves at a “fair” price.

The corn that evolved

It is corn that has evolved through pollination and has different shapes and colors such as blue, red, orange, white and yellow, he points out.

He points out that for his restaurants Bakan and Talavera he chose the blue one, from the Mexican state, because it is creamy and good for tortillas and cacales, which he makes the most. He says that other corn is better for tamales, tostadas, atoles or for frying.

Nixtamalization process

They buy it directly from the farmers and cook it at night in each of the restaurants with lime and water.

“You don’t add salt because you don’t need it,” he points out, talking about the excellent taste that corn already has.

He explains that adding lime allows the body to more easily utilize the nutrients provided by the corn.

This nixtamalization process is followed in the morning by a washing process, in which the skin is removed, but not all of it, and then ground in a volcanic stone mill.

It’s all a very artisanal process that ends with a dough of the right moisture, explains Durazo.

From mouth to mouth

The tortillas are made in the same restaurant in front of diners, who consume them fresh from the oven in tacos, quesadillas and enchiladas, accompanied by meats cooked with oak and cherry wood, among many other side dishes.

The businessman explains that they are so healthy that it seems like he is eating air: “You can eat ten tortillas and not feel heavy. You digest them very well and it is very good food.”

When the tortillas get cold because the order isn’t coming in, they go on a tray with holes that are placed on the cherry wood burners to be toasted.

“Instead of frying the toast in oil, we toast it over a wood fire,” says Durazo.

Dishes with edible filth

Restaurant Bakan, which means tortilla in Huastec, also celebrates Mexican ancestors with crispy fried crickets and ant sauce.

The establishment in Miami’s artsy Wynwood district also stands out for its wood-fired meats and fish and its collection of about 150 tequilas and 250 mezcals.

“For us, it’s the wood fire, not the charcoal, that gives a distinct flavor to any protein or whatever we put in it,” he explains.

“Our proposal is Mexican cuisine from the roots, but we are sensitive and open to understanding people’s tastes, so that they feel comfortable and confidently dare to eat worm tacos, eat chapulines (grasshoppers),” he comments.

A fusion of Mexican flavors

Durazo says he doesn’t need mergers because people still order chili stuffed with cheese and spices and tomato sauce, tortilla soup, seafood cocktail comes back to life, ceviche, roast beef with green sauce and some tortillas.

“People say ‘I want to go to my birria and I want my pozole and I want my tacos al pastor and I want my ceviche,’ and that’s what we bring to the table, because that’s Mexico,” he emphasizes.


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