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Lauren Rothman, our fantastic food intern and lover of Mexican foods, managed to dine on authentic Mayan dishes, catch a speech by Harrison Ford, and learn something about archaeology, all in one night. She reports:
Being a food intern at F&W has its perks: On Tuesday night, I got to attend the Archaeological Institute of America’s 130th Anniversary Gala held at the Chinatown event space Capitale. The dinner honored Harrison Ford, whose famous role in the Indiana Jones movie franchise, archaeologists at the event explained, inspired countless young men and women to join the field. Taking his inspiration from the exotic locales shown in the films, Capitale’s executive chef Jason Munger created a Mayan feast to celebrate the AIA, consulting with Mayan food archaeologist Patricio Balona. Having traveled—and eaten my way—across Mexico, I was excited to get a taste of the ancient foods that are the foundation for the country’s modern-day cuisine.
When I told friends that I was going to a Mayan dinner, a lot of them joked that I would be eating corn, corn, and more corn. I shrugged it off as a stereotype, but they were right about one thing: corn was central to the Mayan religion. In fact, Mayans believed that humans were created by maize gods out of a mix of the gods' own blood and corn flour. In light of this information, it doesn’t come as a surprise that the first course was a seared corn cake topped with sweet potato puree, roasted duck and tomatillo salsa. But the rest of the (amazing) meal was corn -free, including the dessert, a Mayan banana split. This south-of-the-border reworking of the classic featured soft, sweet fried plantains topped with three different sorbets--creamy coconut, spiced pumpkin and lush avocado--and was finished with crispy plantain chips.