It’s a celebration of corn all month long in San Antonio! Throughout May, San Antonio UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy is presenting Pueblos del Maiz as part of a multi-city celebration of corn as a heritage ingredient found in many foods. Locally, the program includes special corn dishes offered by San Antonio restaurants, a community workshop on corn, an interactive demonstration with local high school students, and more.
The other Creative Cities participating in Pueblos del Maiz and presenting their own local programs include Tucson, Arizona; Merida, Mexico; and Puebla, Mexico.
This celebration seeks to inform the community on the process of transforming corn to many of the foods we see on our dinner tables and restaurants like sopes, quesadillas, botanas, and tortillas. Nixtamalization and stone-ground masa, invented by ancient Mesoamericans more than 3,500 years ago, is the foundation for foods created from corn masa today.
“Corn is a direct connection to culture and history, and a shared connection with our fellow creative cities,” said Colleen Swain, Director of the City of San Antonio World Heritage Office, which oversees the UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy designation in San Antonio. “Pueblos del Maiz is an opportunity for San Antonio residents and visitors to learn about this history – one that many of us don’t even know – and the important role that corn has played in the foods our ancestors prepared and the food we enjoy today.”
Twelve San Antonio restaurants are participating by offering corn dishes and beverages as part of this month-long program. When visiting the restaurants to purchase these special items, customers can also collect free commemorative printed post cards available at each of the restaurants as a keepsake for this month’s programming.
This year’s Pueblos del Maiz participating restaurants are:
Chicken N Pickle
5215 UTSA Blvd., 78249
Cuishe Cocina Mexicana
115 N. Loop 1604, Suite #1108, 78232
Elotitos Corn Bar
1933 Fredericksburg Rd., Suite #105, 78201
Milpa at the Yard
5253 McCullough Ave, 78212
Mr. A OK’s Kitchen
5532 Walzem Rd., 78218
611 S. Presa St., Suite #106, 78205
Sangria on the Burg
5115 Fredericksburg Rd., 78229
Señor Fish Seafood Bar
11915 Broadway, Suite #111, 78215
Stixs & Stone
5718 Wurzbach Road, 78238
Supper at Hotel Emma
136 E. Grayson St., 78215
Tacos Cucuy – Food Truck
11911 Crosswinds Way, Suite #203, 78233
1401 S. Flores St., Suite #102, 78204
Information on the food and beverage items each restaurant is serving is available at www.sacityofgastronomy.org/COMMUNITY.
“There is no doubt that San Antonio is the perfect setting for the Pueblos del Maiz celebration,” said John Brand, San Antonio UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy Chef Ambassador and culinary director of Hotel Emma. “Regardless of your background and your dietary preferences, corn is abundant in many foods and drinks in San Antonio. We see it commonly in traditional foods such as tortillas and tamales, but over the years it has evolved into more creative foods, thanks to the imagination and talent of our city’s culinary industry.”
Pueblos del Maiz also features community recipes submitted by San Antonio residents who highlighted family staples or their own takes on traditional dishes. The recipes submitted will be archived in the UTSA Libraries Special Collections and some are featured on www.sacityofgastronomy.org/COMMUNITY. The World Heritage Office held an open call and worked with the City’s Department of Human Services to collect recipes from the City’s senior centers.
In addition, two events will take place this month to engage the local community. On Thursday, May 19, 2022 San Antonio Chef Ambassador Jesse “Chef Kirk” Kuykendall and Roberto Solis, a visiting chef from Merida, will cook alongside Lanier High School Culinary Arts students. During this closed class, the students will learn how to make quesadilla frita and masa de chocolate, while also learning about the history of corn as a traditional cooking ingredient.
On Saturday, May 21 the community is invited to join Solis and San Antonio’s own chef Johnny Hernandez from 10 a.m.- 2 p.m. for Mes del Maíz: Masa to Mesa. Ancient Heirloom Grains, a local family-owned company that sources organic and non-GMO from Mexico, will provide corn for masa at the teaching session for participants to take home to use in their own home creations. San Antonio chef Paul Morales will also present the unique qualities of nixtamal. The event will take place at Kitchen Campus, 3014 Rivas St., 78228. Space is limited space and cost is $50 per participant, with proceeds benefitting Kitchen Campus, a nonprofit organization established in 2014 by Chef Johnny Hernandez with a mission to connect youth to culinary opportunities through education and advocacy. Information will be available on the San Antonio UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy Facebook page (www.facebook.com/sacityofgastronomy/).
In 2017, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated San Antonio as a Creative City of Gastronomy for its culinary legacy as a confluence of cultures. The indigenous roots; the traditions and tastes introduced by the Spanish colonists in the 1700s; and the European, Asian, and African influences that came with European settlers in the 1800s have created a complex fusion that make San Antonio’s cuisine distinct from other southwest regions in the United States. As a UNESCO Creative City, San Antonio is part of a distinct group of international cities committed to sharing best practices, developing partnerships that promote creativity, strengthening participation in cultural life, and integrating culture in urban development.
More information on San Antonio as a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy is available at www.sacityofgastronomy.org. Information on the World Heritage Office is available at www.sanantonio.gov/worldheritage.
PHOTO: John Brand, San Antonio Chef Ambassador and Culinary Director of Hotel Emma, has created two dishes in celebration of Pueblos del Maiz: green chorizo Scotch egg with cornbread and tomato Provencal (pictured) and crispy smoked quail with pickled corn relish and potato puree. Both are available at Hotel Emma’s Supper. (Photo Courtesy of Supper)