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La Cocina
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La Cocina

Every Tue., Wed., Thu., Fri. until May 14 @ Museo de las Americas
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Breaking bread in the kitchen is a major part of the human experience, wherever you live, but Museo de las Américas director Maruca Salazar thinks her own Mexican kitchen culture illustrates the importance of cooking in a particularly sensual way. So after much discussion within the Museo community, she put together La Cocina, a peasant paean to one of the most central pieces of community. The exhibit, which features traditional pottery from Tonala, Jalisco and Puebla, opens tonight, with a free reception from 6 to 9 p.m. that includes authentic tastes of Mexico.

“Why is every human being on the planet focused on the kitchen?” muses Salazar. “No matter who they are, they’re all going to the kitchen. What is that? No contemporary kitchen has a fire in it, yet it’s very much inside us — in our DNA. The kitchen is where the fire is, and that’s a sacred element that provides comfort and warmth.” La Cocina, she explains, “embraces anyone who is interested in eating and also in feeling comfortable and having a sense of belonging.”

A major part of the exhibit is a re-creation of an old hacienda kitchen from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, based on Salazar’s memory of her own grandmother’s haven, using authentic colors and designs. “I’m having an emotional time with it,” Salazar admits. “Even when I was a little girl, my grandmother still had that kitchen, except that she put in gas where the wood was before. Nothing changed, except now she had gas.
“The rules of the kitchen are like an order-of-the-universe thing,” she adds. “I think kitchens are magical, regardless of what culture you come from. They remind you and bring back your ancestry and allow you to be creative, to have your own domain, where you are the queen.”

La Cocina runs through January 12 at the Museo, 861 Santa Fe Drive, and a number of related events, lectures and workshops (including four Foods of Mesoamerican Cuisine tours at the Denver Botanic Gardens) are scheduled through the end of the year. For information, visit museo.org or call 303-571-4401.

— By Susan Froyd

Price: $5 museum admission

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