I’m catching up with food design expert and CEO of Foodlosofia Diego Ruzzarin who is busy preparing his contribution to the Milan World Expo 2015. Currently running in the northern Italian city until 31 October, its theme is ‘Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life’. Something close to Diego’s heart. At the expo, Diego is sharing his vision at the Mexican pavilion which has the theme ‘Mexico. The Seed for the New World: Food, Diversity and Heritage’. I’m curious to find out more.
A NEW HERITAGE FOR MEXICO
Firstly, what exactly is the Milan World Expo?
Expo Milano 2015 focuses on two aspects of food production: the traditional and the use of new technologies. While both may seem opposing, they’re very much interconnected. The expo provides a great opportunity for industry players to meet and exchange ideas. It’s also part of a cultural journey that aims to highlight the critical changes to our planet that are impacting the entire population.
What’s your mission there?
We’re launching our new book Mexico Food and Design which uniquely establishes a link between eating habits and creative disciplines. It’s best described as a ‘house of mirrors’ in which 20 different subjects about food are explored from different angles: not only from the perspective of food itself, but also architecture, sculpture, music and other creative disciplines. Our aim is to show the world that there’s more to Mexico than just culinary culture: we hope to achieve this by examining non-stereotypical thinking and by creating new archetypes.
Yes, this is something we need to promote. Mexico is famous for several reasons, food being an important one. Mention Mexico and people automatically think of corn, tacos and tequila… However, this ‘postcard’ image is no longer reflective of the true culture. In a way, the country has dug its own grave by keeping this image alive for so long, purely to attract tourists. Mexico has become a victim of the ‘single story’ phenomenon; something that is true for many countries, by the way. We want our book to be the start of creating a new heritage for the country; to show the modern creative Mexico.
Creating new archetypes?
We’ve developed new archetypes like the taco, aka ‘the new burger’. The world is changing from macroplastic (think: McDonald’s burgers) to micro-craft (think: hand-made, no plastic, no cutlery, you eat everything with your hands). This is because it’s no longer only about food: it’s also about respecting the planet. By eating everything and doing away with cutlery and packaging, there’s no waste. These days, people care more and more about how food is made, what ingredients are used and how – or if – it’s packaged.
Mexico is great for street food.
Yes, food culture in Mexico goes way beyond gastronomy. While there’s poverty in Mexico – and also obesity – there’s also an incredible culture and heritage of street food. In fact, Mexico is a reference for street food and later, food trucks. A trend that has since been picked up in other Central and Latin American countries and is now becoming increasingly popular in the US and Europe. Chefs are taking the pleasure of eating back onto the streets.
Mexico is good at developing new concepts, I believe.
Yes, Mexicans are especially ingenious when it comes to food, design and entrepreneurship. If we combine the right ideas with the right people and communicate in a new way, we can show the world how rich the food culture is – and how it offers so much more than gastronomy. In fact, food plays an integral part in every aspect of Mexican culture: food is Mexico’s ambassador.
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