The impact of gentrification on the gastronomic culture of San Cristóbal


The gastronomy of a place involves various factors, such as the environment, local food systems and production processes. It can also affect soil erosion and imply systems of capital and privilege, while carrying cultural significance through flavors, memories, and family recipes.

To fully understand food, it is necessary to consider the entire system behind it, beyond its preparation and presentation. The term gastronomy, often used in the context of tourism to describe the food of a destination, falls short when it comes to capturing all the various material, organizational, symbolic, and emotional practices that food encompasses.

Food gentrification

The term “food gentrification” was initially introduced by blogger Mikki Kendall. It refers to the effects of foods that are often found in low-income areas and become fashionable.

The phenomenon of gentrification or gourmetization has been examined from various perspectives, and some studies link it to factors such as access to certain resources and locations within capital systems.

According to Fuhem Ecosocial’s report on gentrification, certain neighborhoods in cities around the world are being transformed into “artificial food storefronts” for the upper class, causing changes in others’ eating interactions and potentially increasing costs or demand for certain products.

The rise of global culinary techniques and traditions in an area is the result of various social events, including migration.

The concept of “gourmetization” implies raising ordinary food products to a higher level, emphasizing not only the taste but also the aesthetics of its consumption and commercialization.

UNESCO created in 2004 a network of creative cities to promote cultural expressions, including gastronomy and the activation of heritage. In Mexico, places like San Cristóbal de Las Casas offer various approaches to the subject, such as food sovereignty, agroecology, anthropology, and the rescue of culinary procedures, some of which date back to colonial times and are linked to the food system of the indigenous communities of the region.

San Cristóbal de Las Casas was designated a creative city in the branch of Crafts and Popular Art and has notable culinary characteristics. It has been studied for its production systems and food sovereignty in institutions such as Ecosur and has been a pioneer in incorporating slow food into global movements. Slow food promotes local consumption and the preservation of regional gastronomic traditions, products, and farming methods.

The food scene, in this resort state, has experienced gentrification. The main streets are now tourist hotspots offering a variety of international cuisine with stylish presentations. Many locals use local products from markets, organic producers, and urban gardens. Some community cooperatives, such as Mujeres y Maíz, offer traditional knowledge and products for business and personal consumption.

San Cristóbal offers a wide range of options, including Argentine and French bakeries, as well as traditional sweet shops with rich cultural significance.

San Cristóbal and Chiapas have a varied culinary offer, which includes traditional dishes from home kitchens and take-away options such as El Mercadito and Fogón de Jovel.

There has been a trend of young entrepreneurs and chefs returning to their cooking establishments, leading to a combination of change and tradition. This has led to the appearance of a wide variety of restaurants and gastronomic markets.

There are numerous dining options available at places like Tarumba, Tierra y Cielo, and other venues like Esquina San Agustín, Nostalgia, Porfiria, Patio Abulón, Mesa Madre, Santo Nahual, Malaak, Piglet Club, Belil, Cocoliche, and the Franco-French fusion restaurant. Mexican from Hotel Paraiso. Lum Restaurant, located in Hotel Bo, offers special tasting events, and features guest chefs.

Indigenous culinary practices offer a wide range of approaches and experiences for tourists, including visits to nearby municipalities such as Zinacantán, Chamula, San Andrés, and Amatenango. The Chef Claudia Sántiz and restaurants such as Tierra Adentro and TaniPerla are making significant efforts to support sustainable economic growth and a fair income for families through the use of indigenous suppliers.

The cuisine of the native peoples

The culinary practices of indigenous communities are often determined by their management systems. Although some studies have been done on cuisines such as Tzeltal, Tzotzil, and Chol, many traditional dishes remain unique to their respective communities. Researchers, preparing a cookbook on jungle cuisine, have observed that certain recipes are kept within communities due to their reliance on plants or animals found only in specific areas, in order to avoid their overexploitation and possible extinction.

Cookbooks provide information about a community’s culinary heritage, including organizational and management systems, worldviews, and food-related genetic resources. However, if not properly managed, these books can reveal community-specific traditional knowledge to third parties.

The offer includes new projects led by local chefs and producers who aim to showcase their seasonings on the extensive menu. These projects include Típica in Casa Raíz, Xut, Sarajevo, La Charcu and a recent proposal with mushrooms by Kan Kan Kan.

There are many types of food available in the area, such as Lebanese, Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Oaxacan, Puebla, Chiapas, Argentinian, and Italian cuisines. There are upscale restaurants, popular eateries, and market stalls offering a wide variety of flavors and seasonings. The gastronomic offer is widely distributed throughout the area, which makes each street a unique experience.

In addition, there is a selection of traditional drinks made with extracts of cocoa or corn.

Source: Noro