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ON TRANSCENDENTAL CUISINE
Mexico City, 2021

Words and Photography : Alexandra Von Fuerst
A collaboration with chef Martha Ortiz, Filigrana Restaurant


In my opinion, cooking is an extension of art.
Human beings experience life as art when they discover the ability to recognise the creative power within life itself and to express its beauty in innovative and emotional ways. In universal creation, the spirit of life is woman. It is the female form that is expressed in the world in its various wonderful forms. The decision to work with Martha on a series of images of Mexican cuisine stemmed from the meeting of two women who recognise femininity as a chance to bring the beauty of life into the everyday. In her wonderful  universe, the chef tells me about her alchemical approach to cooking, in which ingredients undergo a process of transmutation to ascend to their final form: a delicious dish imbued with sensuality. Food, an integral part of human wellbeing, is represented in the expression of an alternative popular cuisine, composed of plants, seeds, fruits, roots and herbs.

Viewing the body as avehicle for discovering and savouring life, when we allow the plant to connect with us, it instructs us,  protects us and frees us from the ignorance of worthless consumption. Each ingredient is imbued with the richness of the earth, which  provides nourishment for all living species. Eating food represents a connection with what strengthens us, a network between the body and food, a source of subsistence and emotion. Every dish is the reflection of a universe that lives both inside and outside of us, which completes us and gives us its essence. As food passes through our body, it creates the energy that provides human life and restores the balance of the elements within a process of discovery. What we eat is the lifeblood of what we express, starting from the centre of our inner sun: the stomach.

Martha takes inspiration from the traditional Mexican “cocinera” woman,  an icon of strength and character. Mexican cuisine  encompasses the myths and legends of the motherland and transmits its wisdom through local ingredients such as corn, chile or the Huitlacoche mushroom. Each component tells a story, releasing magic and enchantment. The heart, one of the symbols at  the  basis of Mexican iconography, represents the beating centre of our emotions in life and the strength we have to interact with the surrounding universe. The heart is the centre of being and a place of alliance and encounter that  sustains reason. This representation of the countryʼs culinary and cultural heritage passes through the history of ancestral ingredients that come to life in the hands of women who cook by mixing elements from nature. Air, water, earth and fire move to transform matter and give it new life. The fulcrum of transformation, elevation of matter and the principle of creation are born in the fire. Martha talks about her relationship with fire as the foundation of traditional culinary magic. Living ash enriches the dishes with a special ingredient, completing the circle of rebirth. At the origin of  the chefʼs work is the desire to open up to a new aesthetic perception, which brings femininity, sensuality and eroticism into the kitchen, leading to a spiritual liberation through art. Over the course of the day spent with Martha, we talk about philosophy, surrealism  and  the artists who inspire us. Leonora Carrington, Remedios Varo and Louise Bourgeois are mentioned, icons of feminism and the exploration of dreams and the subconscious.

The ingredients are carefully chosen from local and sustainable sources. The cuisine places great emphasis on life, which shines through in every dish. The images are a tribute to nature, inspired by a country of ancestral wealth and wisdom, in collaboration with a woman with a magical soul.



All rights reserved. ©Alexandra Von Fuerst