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Like any border city, Tucson, Arizona brings together flavors from different origins. This is one of the reasons why it has been declared since 2015 as the “First Creative City of Gastronomy”.
Tucson, a desert city in Arizona, located in the southern United States, has had throughout its history different flavors that have persisted and continue to be experimented with, both in street food and high-end restaurants.
The cuisine prepared in the area naturally has influences from Mexican and Native American food. With these influences, a creative and innovative culinary scene has been achieved.
It could be said that Sonoran cuisine and that of other places in the country are key to Tucson becoming the first Creative City of Gastronomy.
One of the most popular dishes in Tucson‘s street food scene is the Sonoran hot dog, an interpretation of the “dogo” from Hermosillo. This dish consists of a sausage wrapped in bacon and grilled, served on a soft bun and topped with a variety of condiments, such as refried beans, chopped onion, tomato, jalapeños, and tomato sauce. Sonoran hot dogs can be found in food carts throughout the city.
In this way, Sonora and Arizona not only share territory but also share flavors. This is an example of how migration influence has also been a turning point in Tucson’s cuisine and in world cuisine in general.
In Tucson, a multicultural cuisine converges to confirm its position as the First Creative City of Gastronomy.
Jonathan Mabry stated for Smithsonian Magazine:
“It all starts with our deep and multicultural gastronomic history,” Mabry tells Smithsonian.com, “There is so much innovation in all parts of our food system, including sustainable agriculture and livestock, as well as the development of an innovative urban agriculture scene. For example, Tucson recently modified our land-use code to facilitate agriculture within city limits and the sale of those products.”
María Mazón is a chef born in Tucson but raised in Navojoa, Sonora. She has been nominated for the James Beard Awards and has been a participant on Top Chef USA. Her project Boca Tacos represents this eclectic cuisine representative of Tucson, where she proposes her “smoking tacos”, using chiltepines, Yavaros salt, and even mole. She also told Erika Rivera of Robb Report that Boca Tacos’ tables offer a dozen more daring-flavored sauces.
Other palate-pleasing options that have represented the gastronomic movement include the bread made by Barrio Bread, which uses white Sonoran wheat, a project led by Don Guerra. Por otra parte también existe El Whiskey del Bac, destilado en barricas de madera de mezquite.
Tucson and the added value of being the First Creative City of Gastronomy.
According to UNESCO, when Tucson was named the first Creative City of Gastronomy in the United States, the following was established:
“Establish the Center for Food Justice, Safety, and Innovation with the aim of increasing access to healthy food, improving sustainable local food production and distribution, and expanding job opportunities in the food industry.”
“Encourage cross-cutting approaches through the participation of Creative Cities of Gastronomy and Literature in the International Forum on Food and Farming Writing and Literature, focusing on promoting the consumption of healthy food.”
“Collaborate with other Creative Cities of Gastronomy in developing resources and strategies to conserve and promote heirloom crop varieties, as well as to promote the use of culturally appropriate and nutritious regional foods.”
“Exchange best practices on how to support local artisanal producers, the development of cooperatives and public markets, urban food production, preservation, and distribution.”
The flavors that Tucson, as the First Creative City of Gastronomy, has to offer, await us.
Sources: Unesco, Smithsonian Magazine, Robb Report Mx