As one of the newest and rising cuisines in Mexico and a phenomenon that is also the result one of the newest cultures in the country, Baja California’s culinary industry has become a landmark of Mexico’s northwest region and has fast positioned itself as a leading and luxurious cuisine trend in Latin America and Internationally. The name for this rising star among the culinary experience is “Baja Med” and its origins belong to the northernmost western corner of Mexico in the city of Tijuana, the Economic Capital of the Province of Baja California.
Just across from California in the USA, the Mexican province of Baja California is known for its mix of cultures, diversity, proximity to the United States and get this: It’s Chinese roots, which mostly come from in it’s political Capital, the city of Mexicali where plenty of emblems stand stating that Chinese arrived earlier than Mexicans, such as a Pagoda that was given as a present from Nanjing city (Mexicali’s Chinese sister city) and a Chinese town that sits at the heart of the commercial area of the city in downtown. It is surely a a long story and a very interesting one for sure, but basically a large Cantonese community first settled after the Gold Rush period in California when Chinese people arrived by the thousands to work on large scale projects that included gold mines, the railroads and the water channels that originated from the Colorado River, this last infrastructure project lured many Chinese workers because much of the irrigation systems where destined to Mexicali City. By the 1920s the population was nearly 10,000 Chinese in comparison to less than 1000 Mexicans living in Mexicali, now a days the Chinese community is back to being a minority but continue to be a strong part of the economy and society, to this date the Mexicali resident’s typical Sunday family dinner is many times held at a Cantonese restaurant, this fact also contributes to a wide combination of tastes and ingredients included in Baja Med cuisine.
Another interesting fact is that Tijuana City is also the home of the internationally renowned ‘’Ceasar’s Salad” where the recipe was born through the hands of an Italian Emigrant from Sicilia, in the kitchen of the “Cesar’s Hotel” Both the Hotel and Restaurant still stand today and is the attraction of international visitors year round, you may order it off the menu and live the experience, where the chef will come to your table and mix the ingredients at your table, definitely a sight to see, but more so a fine culinary experience to remember.
So what exactly is Baja Med you ask? In the same way Baja California has hosted the Chinese communities, the province also acts as a melting pot of cultures that come from all over Mexico and also a few regions of Latin American, mostly composed of people looking for a better way of life, many of them first attracted from the ideal of living in the United States, perhaps however found a better place to call home just south of the border. This melting pot of cultures, the Mediterranean weather, topographic diversity and economy are just some of the ingredients that act as catalysts that gave way to Baja Med, in one of the top regional chef’s words he describes it as “A cuisine with Mexican, Mediterranean and, like cherry on top, Oriental ingredients, that is BajaMed” some example of Baja Med dishes include: Tempura fish tacos, deep sea shrimp served with fried marlin, baby farm tomatoes, scallions and a sauce made with local cheeses, beet carpaccio with blue cheese and mint vinaigrette, duck skewered with licorice and sprinkled with guava dust, all of this paired with some of the highest quality of local beef, seafood, veggies and not to mention regional wineries and beer breweries, makes visiting Tijuana an unforgettable and remarkable culinary experience, it’s a must for international tourists including Chinese which by the way, now have two options now for direct flights, one from Beijing with Hainan Airlines and another from Shanghai with Aeromexico Airline, and remember, once you arrive you will also have the options of crossing to the USA directly to San Diego California, an also well-known destination for international tourism and from Tijuana you can also take a four and a half hour direct flight to Merida Yucatan, very close to the Chichen Itza, the Mayan Pyramid that was immortalized by President’s Xi Jingping’s visit to Mexico in the summer of 2013.