El Expendio de Maíz, Mexico
The story of the Expendio de Maíz project started with a road trip between friends, the sort of trip when a Mexico City resident decides to leave the capital for a few days… to visit the countryside, to distance oneself from the trendy urban way of life, in search of the non-touristic villages where one can enjoy simple food and authentic moments just watching people going about their daily lives.
Very often when one travels by car in Mexico, it normal to drive for 7 to 8 hours straight, which means at some point one needs to stop and eat. Often this is simple Mexican food prepared by the side of the road, or in villages one passes by, and more often than not this is made by women in a very traditional way. It is usually simple but always delicious. The main product, the basis of everything in Mexican cuisine is corn. Every day one eats corn – this is what makes the Mexican tortilla.
During one such trip, the restaurants’ founders decided that the tortilla from the countryside to be superior to that of the capital, which they feel is made cheaply from industrialized corn. They were prompted to create a new venue in Mexico city, offering traditional, rural fare.
The architects drew inspiration from the fireplaces of rough countryside kitchens, where people traditionally cooked each day. The aim was to create a rural kitchen in the heart of the city to promote the idea of preserving and honoring the Mexican culinary tradition.
According to mythology, Cintéotl, god of corn, was one of the most respected deities; understandably, since in pre-Hispanic times corn was the main crop on which people survived, and it continues to very important today.
The idea behind this project was to treat corn with the same importance it received in pre-Columbian times; to treat it with all the delicacy and respect it deserves.
The architects decided to look at pre-Hispanic architecture to design the tortilleria (the tortilla bakery). It’s traditional, rustic appearance resembles the old guachimontones pyramids of Teuchitlán in modern day Jalisco, as well as the old baths of Nezahualcoyotl in the Aztec city of Texcoco. These were all made of volcanic stone, a material native to the Distrito Federal, and a stone which has stood as an enduring witness to the human endeavor since the time of the Aztecs and beyond.