The term "Baja-Med" has slowly worked its way into the Baja, then Mexican, and now Californian lexicon during these last few years, used when describing the new culinary movement that has brought Baja California to international prominence and healed part of its global image, tarnished by the violence of the drug war.
But, do you really know what it means? what the "Med" stands for and why it's used? Is it any good? (of course it is, but you deserve and explanation of why ).
Baja-Med is a fusion food from Tijuana and other places in Baja California, Mexico, that combines the typical Mexican cuisine ingredients like 'chicharrón' (pork rinds) and Cotija cheese, with Mediterranean ones like olive oil and even a little bit of Asian flavors that are added through soy sauce and lemongrass. However, the most important ingredient a dish needs to have for it to be called Baja-Med, is a locally grown one, in Baja.
Having a fresh, Baja grown ingredient as part of your dish adds the Baja in in Baja-Med, as the Asian favors come from Mexicali and its famous Chinese immigrant population while the Mediterranean parts are a product of our privileged regional climate.
Baja California's cuisine has also historic relations with the recopies of Native American tribes in the region like the Kumeyaay, cooking from the missionary era, the presence of Russian culture in the Guadalupe Valley and Ensenada area. All these factors contribute to "Baja-Med", the sum of all these historical elements, fused to create new and diverse ideas for Baja chefs to share all around the world.
Chef Miguel Ángel Guerrero, one of the pioneers of "Baja-Med", defines it as what in the future will be known as Baja California cuisine, simple as that. The culinary culture in the state is still very young, although, it has become world-renowned. Fresh and organic ingredients is what he considers to be Baja-Med's main characteristic, which is a lot of restaurants have season menus, according to what's in season.
Another Baja-Med trailblazer is Chef Javier Plascencia, owner of the renowned Misión 19 restaurant in Tijuana, who believes and knows that this is a unique cuisine in Mexico. Still very young, he says, but rich in local and organic ingredients.
Stay up to date on the latest from the culinary scene of Baja California, at The Real Baja.