Located in Southern Mexico in the State of Yucatán, Mérida is vibrant city, home to 800,000 people. Over the centuries, the city’s rich Mayan and colonial heritage created a deep rooted cosmological, linguistic, religious and technological basis that, together with the strong influxes from Europe and other regions, resulted in the visible interculturalism that represents and defines one of the most recognized and respected cuisines in Mexico today. The traditional gastronomy of Yucatán is a significant part of Mexico’s history, providing a sense of local and regional belonging. It is a cultural expression that has surpassed the test of time, combining natural and cultural traditions. For the city of Mérida, its gastronomy sector not only celebrates traditional heritage, but also provides economic and employment benefits within the local community by providing over 25,000 jobs. Furthermore, its tourism industry, assisted by the gastronomic sector, attracts more than 1.5 million visitors each year, generating substantial financial contributions to the region, approximately 8% of the State’s GDP.
Across Mérida, food is celebrated through a variety of festivals and events, many of which celebrate regional gastronomic professionals. The Mérida Gastronomy Festival and the Koobén Festival are both networking platforms, showcasing and supporting local chefs, as well as providing opportunities for culinary students to learn and develop within the field. Alongside these professional-focused events, the annual Chicharra Festival is a community-based celebration, helping to promote local gastronomic identity and the festivals delicacies.
To improve the socio-economic quality of its disadvantaged inhabitants, the local government has implemented a scheme that focuses on using indigenous gastronomy as driver for sustainable development and employment. By providing resources in the form of food and equipment, and empowering Mayan communities in rural and urban areas by offering financial support to family businesses within the supply chain, the city aims to reduce the poverty gap and enhance the gastronomic industry with traditional cuisine.
As a Creative City of Gastronomy, Mérida envisages:
- adopting a responsible and sustainable management model within the gastronomic sector, to support multi-ethnic groups and gender equality;
- building an International Centre for Sustainable Creative Gastronomy, and positioning it as a global hub, creating opportunities to educate and learn from each other in research and co-production schemes;
- implementing a creative destination approach based on gastronomy, aligned to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development;
- contributing to the creation and implementation of gastronomic creative brand as well as developing the city’s first strategy on Creative Tourism; and
- promoting Mexican gastronomy in international markets by collaborating with other Creative Cities of gastronomy.