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Mesamerica, Day One: Observations on the Future of Mexican Cuisine

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[Photo: <a href="">Adam Goldberg</a>]
[Photo: Adam Goldberg]

[Photos: Paula Forbes/Eater, except where noted]

The first annual Mesamérica, chef Enrique Olvera's summit on Mexican cuisine, is off and running: yesterday chefs, industry folks, journalists, and many, many culinary students gathered in the Blackberry Auditorium in Mexico City for the first day of presentations. There was a focus on the local, a demo of pyrotechnic plating, grasshopper garum, and molecular seaweed. There were also sneak peeks: Daniel Patterson of Coi in San Francisco previewed his forthcoming Phaidon cookbook, and Carlo Mirarchi showed off his brand new New York restaurant Blanca. Below, details from day one:

Daniel Patterson of San Francisco's Coi previewed photography from his upcoming 2013 Phaidon cookbook (see slideshow). He was full of tricks for traveling chefs ("It's illegal to carry liquid on a plane but you can set it with agar") and jokes ("Certain types of seaweed are nature's spherification").

Chilean chef Rodolfo Guzmán of Boragó in Santiago showed videos of how his restaurant evokes nostalgic memories in diners, including one that involved a soup dish nestled in twigs that were then set on fire.

Lars Williams of René Redzepi's Nordic Food Lab discussed his attempts to "get gringos to eat bugs" which involves fermenting grasshoppers into a soy sauce-like condiment. He also discussed the various flavors ants can take on, from lemongrass to tobacco to coriander to something that's technically called "medical mint" but his staff refers to as "mint-flavored condom."

Chefs Jair Téllez (Laja in Ensenada and Meretoro in Mexico City) and Javier Plascencia (Mision 19 in Tijuana) discussed their efforts to develop the cuisine of Baja and Tijuana. Plascencia wants to change the image of Tijuana; he no longer wants it to be considered a day trip from San Diego for margaritas and cheap pharmaceuticals but rather "I want people to come to Tijuana to eat."

Nectar chef Robert Solis made Mayan food in honor of our impending doom at the end of time. These included a fried yucca dish with sauces representing the Mayan view of the world and a dish baked in clay before being broken open on the plate.

Roberta's chef Carlo Mirarchi and pastry chef Katy Peetz showed off dishes from their recently-opened New York restaurant Blanca, making carrot gum (complete with a gushing, concentrated carrot center). Why gum? Said Mirarchi, "So the last thing you have with your meal you're kind of still eating when you walk out the door."

Mesamerica runs through Saturday; check back with Eater in the coming days for more from the conference.

· Mesamérica [Official Site]
· All Mesamerica Coverage on Eater [-E-]
· All Hangover Observations on Eater [-E-]