January 18, 2021

Mayan cuisine flavored cinema | Culture

Mayan cuisine flavored cinema | Culture



In Mayan language, janal means food and gastronomic short film project director Miguel Ventura, could not have another name. In an anthropological way, the director decided to make a series about the cuisine of Yucatan, where it originated. A "cinematographic recipe book" as he calls it with some of the most popular dishes of the State. Through the preparation of jewels from Yucatecan cuisine, Ventura talks about social relations, tradition and culture. The director had already explored these aspects of culture with his short film The deer and the fog special prize of the Morelia Film Festival.

Beyond the cochinita pibil, the lime soup or the panuchos, the Yucatecan food is a world of flavors, smells and indigenous heritage. This kitchen is characterized by having a richness and diversity that goes hand in hand with its particular history, far from the rest of Mexico.

"We are a separate country," jokes the director. "The way to cook or live in Yucatan is different from the rest of the country," he explains. "The food here is 100% emotional, it talks about the type of land and the type of life you live," says Ventura, who believes that the food and preparation of Yucatecan cuisine are very different from how other dishes are prepared of Mexican food.

The director speaks of the Yucatecan food with passion and describes it as "more earthy". With flavor to earth and to origins, to tradition and to Mayan inheritance. The 38-year-old director's life was linked to gastronomy in one way or another, to the point of working in the kitchen of an oil rig. But if there was a longing in Miguel's heart it was to be a film director above all else. The project of Cine Janal He combined his two passions.

"When you live far from home, food is one of the first things you miss," says Ventura. The seasoning, the textures and the flavors. That is where Cinema Janal comes from, not without difficulties and suffering, since each chapter of this series depends on the financing of public institutions such as the city council of Mérida – driving two chapters – or on the goodwill of the technical teams and the actors.

The Janal Cinema chapters have positioned themselves in social networks with hundreds of thousands of reproductions in each of their episodes. Especially the history of Pib, a kind of tamal with poultry, beans and lard wrapped in banana leaf that is made for the Day of the Dead. This movie reached more than one million reproductions.

Yucatecan cuisine, is perhaps, one of the most diverse and complex of all Mexico. The gastronomy of this southern region of the North American country maintains its indigenous and prehispanic roots strong. Something that can be observed in other recipes of the series: the tikin xiik, a fish that is prepared on the coals with an axiote marinade; the black stuffing, a stew with pork and boiled egg that is usually prepared for weddings; or the chaya, a plant that grows in most of the Yucatecan orchards and that is used to mix with the scrambled egg at breakfast.

"In the Yucatecan gastronomy there is a lot of emotion in each dish. Food is essential in the families of this region, in the villages where all the dishes of the country originate, you can only do three things to rest, work and eat. That's why I wanted to record the shorts in small towns where the recipes originate, "explains the director.

"We noticed that television in Mexico is totally lacking in this type of content. It needs original and different content, "adds the director who has sought television stations to buy his series of short films. In the same way that one day dreamed of being a film director, Miguel Ventura dreams of being able to expand the Janal Cinema project and explain with his cinematographic recipe book the gastronomy of all the peoples of Mexico.

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