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 a vehicle  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