When asked to describe Mexican food, many people might think burritos, queso dip, Taco Bell, and Tex-Mex. While these foods of course exist, both in the US and in Mexico, Mexican food on this side of the border tends to be overly simplified and stigmatized as cheap, greasy, unhealthy hangover food. The reality is that Mexican food is wildly diverse and regional, influenced by pre-Hispanic traditions, various climates, vast coastlines, Caribbean proximity and Spanish colonization. When you discover a local place that really captures the complexity of Mexican food in a way that highlights unique, flavorful and fresh ingredients in a variety of healthy and delicious dishes, it feels like a real treasure.
La Lonchería, in Bushwick, Brooklyn, is one of our restaurant partners doing just that. Their menu features some healthy Mexican classics like ceviches, and of course guacamole. They also offer a playful twist to other, typically heavier dishes. Al Pastor is traditionally made with marinated pork on a spit that roasts for hours. La Lonchería’s version uses the same flavors with seared tuna with grilled pineapple, and it’s delicious. The creativity continues with their cauliflower tinga tacos and house-made green chorizo torta.
Like I said, it’s a real treat to find a restaurant doing unique, creative things that showcase a broader perspective of Mexico’s food story. To help spread the word, we worked with Mariana Pelaez, an NYC based, Mexico City native photographer and storyteller. She was able to capture the healthy offerings at La Lonchería that we then used to develop a social media campaign focused on their delicious food, food that also happens to be healthy, food that tells a different story.
The evolution of food and culture is deeply effected by how it is portrayed and subsequently understood. I remember hearing Nigerian author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, describe what she calls the danger of a single story. “Show a people as one thing, as only one thing, and that is what they become”. Show only one facet of a cuisine and that will be all people know. There is unique power in the reach of social media today. There is usually a lot a junk to sift through, but there are also more perspectives that we get to see and more more spaces to tell our own stories. Then there are people like Mariana who are there to help us navigate it all.
Here is Mariana at work!