Mole Poblano and tacos de carnitas became the gastronomical equivalent to foie gras and steak frites on Wednesday after a U.N. agency elevated Mexican and French cuisines to cultural treasures.
The U.N. Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization recognized everything from the growing of corn, beans and chilies to Mexican dishes prepared with grinding stones and mortars as an ancient process worth safeguarding in the face of encroaching global influences.
"Collectives of female cooks and other practitioners devoted to raising crops and traditional cuisine ... express community identity, reinforce social bonds, and build stronger local, regional and national identities," said the committee of 24 countries that determines the list.
"I heard about the UNESCO thing this morning on the TV, and I was drooling all morning," Martin Tellez Romero, 45, said as his snack of beef-and-cheese quesadillas sizzled on the griddle of a sidewalk stand. "I couldn't even wait until lunchtime."
The designation doesn't come with any money or other type of protection - just bragging rights, especially considering that Mexican food was honored at the same time that France's iconic, multi-course gastronomic meal was cited for "bringing people together for an occasion to enjoy the art of good eating and drinking."
"People from all over the world buy my quesadillas," said Mexico City sidewalk chef Maria González, white braids cascading down her back. "I serve Americans and French people and even Chinese people, and they all say our food is the best."
Based on reporting from The Associated Press.