If we stick to the classics, a foreigner will hardly want to constantly try the same thing, we have to reinvent ourselves and continue preserving our traditions, emphasizes chef Ximena Arechaga, who this season presented her versions of pan de muerto, with passion fruit, red fruit or hazelnut cream fillings at Irene's restaurant in Playa del Carmen.

"We can't stay with the usual because our market is looking for new things every day, you have to keep up and anticipate people's needs, take popular ingredients, which are in fashion, along with those that may not be so popular, so when you put together something fashionable with something you want to rescue, it is much easier for someone to look at it," she says.

In her case, she opted for a classic pan de muerto dough to which she adds eureka lemon zest and fills it with mascarpone cheese and passion fruit, "a local ingredient, very fashionable in mixology and that tourists see everywhere here in the southeast and we present it with this new bread for them", which, she assures, has been very well accepted. The dish -depending on the filling- is sprinkled with a mixture of sugar, sugar, and cinnamon or sesame seeds, and finally, corn ash, which is tortilla tatemada.

The young chef's proposal includes dishes that take up the heritage cuisine, so in addition to the pan de muerto, which is available this season, she seeks to show off to the public those recipes that are the legacy of grandmothers, great-grandmothers, mothers, cousins, sisters... She also carries out a didactic work with the diners, explaining each dish, as she considers that part of the experience is that people understand the reason for the dish.

"I feel I have many things to contribute, to say, there are things we have not talked about as much as we should, one of those things is the role of women in the kitchen. Part of this rescue is to make gastronomy be taken as an eighth art, understanding art as to how we consciously express some emotion and cooking is an enormous way of transmitting culture, feelings, and traditions", she mentions.

She assures that it is foreigners who have shown greater acceptance of Mexican dishes, while locals prefer more European dishes.

"Irene is a concept that seeks to exalt women, to give them a place in the kitchen, the most important one. It is a concept of Andalusian cuisine fused with traditional Mexican cuisine," says Ximena Arechaga, who points out that there are many symbols in the restaurant, from the colors chosen for the decoration: blue, which brings peace, and gold, a symbol of olive oil.

Young people, she says, are an integral part of this project, which rescues traditional ingredients: "many ingredients are not rescued, we do not know them, I have come across ingredients that for me are new and it is wonderful to cook with them because you do not stop creating by adapting them to existing ideas". That enriches the gastronomic culture a lot. "What I intend with Irene is to bring all those roots down to earth, bringing you a bit of personal history of all of us who are part of it," she concludes.

Source: La Jornada Maya