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How a Cooking Class Transformed This Woman’s Life

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09.16.19

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Photo by Jillian Kim 

Photo by Jillian Kim 

Learning culinary skills in San Miguel de Allende helped this woman embrace her Mexican heritage.

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Sometimes, a travel experience moves us so much that it goes beyond enjoyment or inspiration and ends up transforming our lives. These experiences make for powerful stories, which is why here at AFAR, we created an entire “Travel Tales” program to celebrate those stories.

As part of that program, we asked readers to submit their own stories of transformation, and selected four of them to run on AFAR.com. Here’s one of our curated selections.

The Tale of Transformation
I discovered the true taste of my Mexican heritage after attending a cooking school in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. I learned about San Miguel de Allende after reading an intriguing article in a travel magazine, which referred to it as a Magic Town, due to its artistic beauty. We found that there were opportunities there for a cooking vacation, and my sisters and I were looking for an interesting experience that would also be a way to bond as sisters.

The cooking school taught us all kinds of delicious Mexican recipes that were traditional, authentic, and healthy. The town was also stunningly beautiful and offered lots of artistic and cultural experiences. San Miguel de Allende quickly became my heaven on earth.

I returned from the cooking vacation with a chest-pounding sense of pride in Mexican culture and my place within in. Within two years, I quit my corporate job and started my own travel company specializing in Mexican heritage trips, so that other Mexican Americans could have the same experience.

—Submitted by Rose Mendoza

Photo by Rose Mendoza

Do This Yourself
There’s a lot to love about this colonial-era town that’s a UNESCO World Heritage site. Set in Mexico’s central highlands, about 150 north of Mexico City, San Miguel has undergone its own transformation, from sleepy town to booming travel epicenter. Both international travelers and local weekenders come for the mesmerizing Spanish colonial architecture, cobblestone streets, artisanal crafts, and festivals.

San Miguel has also become a gastronomic haven, proving a magnet for travelers and chefs, who have flocked here to create all manner of gastronomic delight. Whether you’re looking to explore your own heritage or pick up some new skills, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to learn how to craft authentic Mexican dishes.

For example, you can get hands-on training in the bold flavors necessary to make regional dishes and seasonal concoctions at Belmond’s Casa de Sierra Nevada; its Sazón cooking school is housed in a magnificent 18th-century mansion. Or book a class at La Cocina, which takes a deep dive into heritage and history through a culinary lens. You can learn how to make traditional moles and adobes, as well as modern Mexican fusion cuisine. Or go all-in traditional at the Mexican Ancestry Cooking School, where Marilau Ricaud incorporates fresh local ingredients into family cooking techniques that have evolved over generations.

Whichever you choose, you’ll return home with a greater understanding of Mexican culture—and some new cooking skills to impress your friends.

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