Interview | Cristina Potters, or how to extol the treasure of simple things

Rita Girones

Passion and heart rule here. A Mexican citizen for 20 years, by right and conviction, Cristina was born in Chicago, but she has now lived in Mexico for 41 years. Her extraordinary charm for recounting experiences, dishes and artisan hands, makes her a natural anthropologist. She has been publishing a weekly report on her website for 16 years Mexico Cooks! more than 820 articles archived on its page on Mexican cuisine and culture. Between 6 and 7 million readers who have sought his high sensitivity in culinary matters. Not only does she value originality, presentation or flavor, Cristina goes further, she is guided by sensations, emotions and textures.

What did you want to be as a child?

archaeologist. When I was 7 or 8 years old, my parents gave me the book The 7 Wonders of the Ancient World. The chapter on antiquities found in Greece fascinated me and I thought: I would love to do this, I want to find something unknown to humanity!

What do you want to be now?

I am fortunate to want to do exactly what I am doing, especially since I am also discovering the cultural treasures of Mexico.

Why did you choose Michoacán?

I lived 4 and a half years in Tijuana, without knowing another part of the Republic. A friend invited me to visit her birthplace, Tancítaro, and after the adventure of 52 hours of travel, we arrived there: pines, oaks, wild orchids, ferns… and in August in the rainy season… and in every little needle of the pine trees, there was a droplet of water hanging! The sun rising and illuminating those droplets, I thought: where am I? is this a fairy land? I fell in love with Michoacán from the first moment.

How are food and life combined, beyond the biological fact?

It is certainly a spiritual act. In the Purépecha communities they have their umbrellas, the sacred space of the kitchen. Many of the women still have the habit of praying to the 4 cardinal points before starting to cook, or also the men in the milpa planting, go to the gods to hope for a good harvest. This was shocking to me. And also because it is an act that is done in community.

Do you cook normally?

Not as much as before, but yes!

What do you like to eat? Which dish would you like to be invited with?

(laughs) Few people invite me to eat! Maybe because they think I’m very demanding, and in reality I’m quite simple… I like whatever they offer me, the important thing is the honor of being invited.

Photo: Rita Girones

With which historical figure would you share a good after-dinner meal?

A thousand names come to my mind. With Elena Poniatowska, with the Mexican artist Humberto Spíndola, with Lázaro Cárdenas.

What three foods would you take to a deserted island?

Rice, my perón chile plant (laughs)and… tomato.

What do you prefer sweet or salty?


Did you learn your culinary knowledge from your mom?

Not so much, and we also lived far from our grandparents. My mom was an excellent cook, 1950s style, but I didn’t learn it there. My first apprenticeship was about Chinese food and I bought a book that I still have, for the simple pleasure of learning by doing. It then helped me get a job in Woodstock at a Chinese restaurant for two and a half years, and it was an incredible success! That was my first culinary adventure.

What do you prefer, the food of the Past, the Present or the Future?

I am traditional. I don’t particularly like fusion food. A friend of mine says it very clearly: you can’t deconstruct a saucer without knowing how to build it first. And now there are too many fusion places without essence.

What is Culture for you?

The first word that came to mind is tradition. Education, values, respect, in a certain way, manners. Precisely the word “cult” is part of the word “culture”. Value your ancestors, the learning of our ancestors, and have a way of thinking, not reject, but evaluate what is trendy in the present. Culture is combining the heart, mind and spirituality.

Photo: Rita Girones

Interview | Cristina Potters, or how to extol the treasure of simple things – La Voz de Michoacán