Chicago native bringing Mexican cuisine to European palates

Most people don’t reach being a ‘citizen of the world’. Considering American adults, 57% of them haven’t lived outside their home state. Conversely, 15% of Americans have lived in four or more U.S. states. The amount of Americans who have made a home in multiple countries? Even less. But Chicago born-and-bred chef Rosio Sánchez is on a culinary mission. That mission has brought her to multiple states and countries, landing her in Copenhagen’s Meatpacking District in the present day. Her mission? Teaching Danes how to eat a taco.

Her current career path is not what Sánchez originally planned for herself. At the start of her culinary career, Sánchez wanted to focus on pastries and desserts. After intensive training and experiences in many different levels of dining, she felt a bit stuck. Her turning point? Working in the test kitchen under René Redzepi. Chef Redzepi is famous for inventive courses that turn traditional meals on their heads. After experiencing Redzepi’s attitude that “anything can be anywhere” in terms of ingredients and courses, Sánchez was inspired. She took her knowledge of Mexican cuisines and want to reconnect with her roots to Copenhagen. Copenhagen’s lackluster Tex-Mex scene was challenged when Sánchez opened her first taco stand Hija de Sánchez in 2015.

In the three years since, Sánchez’s business and career have blossomed.

To be fair, Sánchez isn’t bringing “authentic” Mexican cuisines to Europe. Today’s tacos were not eaten by Mexican peoples two hundred years ago. She’s bringing iterations of Tex-Mex, the Americanized food based off of Northern Mexican cuisines that you see in taco joints across the United States. Beef, flour tortillas, and cumin are key parts of modern Tex-Mex, but are not native Mexican ingredients.

It’s difficult to pinpoint what “authentic” Mexican is even in the heart of Mexico. To start, there are actually seven main regions in Mexico as far as cuisine is concerned. Those regions are the North, the North Pacific Coast, the Bajio, the South Pacific Coast, the South, The Gulf, and Central Mexico. Each of these regions has different natural resources that affected their original native cuisines. On top of that, influence from Spanish conquistadors and other colonizers brought in new spices and cooking styles that integrated with native cuisine. Regardless of the particular flavor, young consumers around the world are fast developing a taste for new cuisines. In fact, the specialty food industry has seen a consistent growth of 11% between 2015 and 2017.

Sánchez is carrying on the human tradition of integrating cultures and ideas through food. Although she imports masa and chiles from Mexico, she relies on locally sourced ingredients in and around Denmark to fuel her eateries ‘Hija de Sanchez’ and ‘Sanchez’. Traditional Mexican cuisine was officially declared a piece of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2010, and it’s no wonder — Mexican food is having a global impact on how we eat, represented by people like a Mexican-American woman from Chicago teaching Danes how to eat a taco with their hands.

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