There is nothing more disappointing than reading a food blog that has gorgeous photos, but the recipes turn out to be sub-par. This is especially true when you are cooking food that comes from a different culture than yours. For Esteban Castillo of Chicano Eats, seeing recipes for Mexican food calling for ingredients that aren’t even traditionally used in the cuisine was too much.
He told NPR, “I feel like nowadays, this is a huge piece that’s being left out. Where did things originate and how is it important to that specific culture?”
For him, the most important thing is to understand the culture that the food comes from.
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“It’s such a sensitive topic. I feel like if people are going to be talking about food or making food that is out of their culture, I feel like [the dishes] just need to be well-researched and really pay tribute to those cultures and honor them.”
Since he felt so strongly about the situation, Castillo began his own blog, Chicano Eats, where he creates bicultural and bilingual recipes. Not only are his recipes carefully crafted, but his images of the dishes are works of art.
The stunning visuals are vibrant and crisp and clearly reflect his background in graphic design and marketing. His colors, he told NPR, are meant to project how he sees Mexican food and act a challenge to how the cuisine south of the border is often perceived in the U.S.
“When you think of Mexican food, I feel like people envision this very rustic feeling, where everything is in a clay pot and stuff like that,” Castillo says, adding, “I wanted to give Mexican food this minimalist, very colorful treatment, because that’s what I always gravitated to when I was in school.”
Although Catillo is working to improve the perception of Mexican food, as the title of his blog suggests, he is still a Chicano. That means many of his recipes combine Mexican flavors with American classics to honor his bicultural upbringing.
This approach he sees as a kind of activism.
“When it comes to food blogging, I would like to see more diversity,” he says. “I feel like when it comes to other ethnicities blogging, we don’t have that representation.”
Dive into Chicano Eats, and don’t be afraid to get lost in the beautiful artwork as you can rest easy knowing the food tastes even better than it looks.