About this project
¡¡ FUNDED !!
THE SPECIAL PRICE OF $12 CAD/ $9(ish) USD APPLIES UNTIL THE END OF THE CAMPAIGN, after which the retail price will be approx $12.99 USD
ANNOUNCING THE STRETCH GOAL: Many people have asked me why not put this out in traditional PRINT. The reasons are too many to list. One is set-up cost; two, trees; three, retail price– to be useful, it has to be full-color and if you have bought a book lately, you know what they cost. Digital guides offer so much more possibility.
HOWEVER: with $1250 more pledged to the campaign: I can put out a handy mini-guide highlighting some of the most common and essential foods to try. Ultimately my objective is to see more people giving their pesos to the hard-working people who harvest and glean these foods that are the heart of their culture and their livelihoods. I'll distribute these guides to hotels, cafes etc - and make them available at cost to any organization or business that wants to put them out FOR FREE.
ALL CONTRIBUTORS WILL RECEIVE A PRINTED COPY IF WE ACHIEVE THAT GOAL
What it is
Download this full-color guide to your mobile device for help identifying, choosing and preparing the most unique of the indigenous and regional produce that makes the cuisine of Mexico so unique and varied.
I'm Margret Hefner. I researched, photographed, wrote, and am in the process of editing, all the content for this guide as well as contributing to the layout. And here's the story of WHY...
The importance of Mexican foods cannot be overstated. Mexican cuisine has been designated a UNESCO World Cultural Treasure. A deeper understanding of regional and local food gives us richer connection to a placeand its culture, and to those who grow, forage, harvest and sell it. Eating indigenous foods not only helps support the local community behind it, it ultimately preserves the taste of Mexico, its biodiversity and sustainable agricultural practices.
The Story Behind the Guide
When I arrived in Mexico six years ago, I most looked forward to the food. Travel articles, cookbooks, culinary magazines and blogs had me salivating at the promise of iconic dishes: Mole Oaxaqueño, Chiles en Nogada, tacos of all description.
For almost 10 years now, I have worked as a Personal Chef, always urging my clients to eat more plants, less meat. So, ultimately, it was the mercados – the local produce markets – that most opened my eyes to the social and cultural value of the food. And the variety! Amongst the familiar produce were countless fruits and vegetables I couldn’t identify.
In the streets, women and children walk along, offering seasonal produce in 10-peso bunches and bags. Vendors set up ‘shop’ in doorways and on corners, with gleanings from the nearby countryside or farms. This is where I found some of the most special of treats; a fragile fruit, like zapote blanco, in season for a mere few weeks of the year.
Then there's the tianguis. It's a weekly event in most towns and city neighbourhoods. Vendors from around the region take over an empty lot of a few blocks along a street and set up a traveling market – a sprawling succession of tarps creates one giant patchwork, shading a whirlwind of entrepreneurial activity. The tianguis is often the best place to find some of the most special and unique regional produce.
For me, these markets were heaven! I wanted to know more – to try everything!
No hablo español...
The problem: I spoke limited Spanish. Vendors speak little or no English. Clumsily, I cobbled together simple questions, enough to get basic answers regarding whichever fruit or vegetable I had picked up.
As I continued my explorations, I encountered other extranjeros (foreigners) – expats and travellers – puzzling over foods, just as I had. They were curious, but bewildered, and out of their comfort zones:
‘What is that strange, prehistoric-looking thing? A fruit?’
‘Cactus? Why would anybody want to eat cactus?!'
‘Is it even edible?”
Real people. Real questions!
When I offered tips or recommended something to them to try, the response? Gratitude, first, and then more questions – they genuinely wanted to know more!
So, for visitors and expats who want to take part in this 'normal' activity of buying and eating local (but unfamiliar) produce, I realized there were significant barriers: of language, of familiarity, and of confidence.
Sure, many cookbooks include a glossary or a brief explanation of ingredients. And there’s no shortage of blog posts on the Internet exploring certain foods in depth. But I could not find a single, concise resource that would help the average person traveling through Mexico feel comfortable just exploring, digging in, and tasting these unfamiliar fresh fruits and vegetables.
This seemed like a worthwhile problem to solve!
The Field Guide
Two years ago I began to focus on this goal: to create the type of resource I had been needing – A guide to demystify the exotic and indigenous produce that makes the cuisine of Mexico so special. Not a cookbook (though it does contain recipes), but a field guide with just the essentials, intended for everyone who likes eating fresh produce and tasting the most authentic flavours of this country.
And who doesn’t like eating fresh!
Now, I present: 'Frutas y Verduras: Guide to the fresh tastes of Mexico'
I’ve scoured markets in various regions, photographed very many foods, and asked many questions of locals and professionals beyond consulting books and Internet resources. The research is now in the editing process.
Clients, friends and trusted mentors have reviewed the templates and provided feedback:
" I might have learned much faster … back in the first years I was making my way around the Caribbean and Latin markets... with a resource like Margret Hefner’s eBook 'Frutas y Verduras’. It promises to be a wonderful guide to navigating some of the most essential indigenous and exotic fruits and vegetables of Mexico. The rich image galleries and other interactive enhancements will guide you to choose, pronounce, prepare, and enjoy these very special foods."
— Norman Van Aken, James Beard Award-winning chef, author, and owner of Norman’s, Orlando, FL
Since tablets are increasingly more convenient and accessible for travellers, I opted for an interactive eBook format. it's simple at first look, therefore approachable, but within, it contains deeper layers of information should you want to delve in. The information will always be at your fingertips (no WiFi needed).
To bring my work to your device, I must hire technical and design assistance.
That’s where your funding comes in.
Interactive, enhanced eBook formats: iBooks (iPad, iPhone) and Kobo. It can also be read on a computer using the iBooks application or using a plugin for Chrome on PCs. A similar version (same content, less interactivity) will be prepared for Android – how soon depends on whether funding exceeds current goal.
- IDENTIFY: Slideshows of photos for automatic recognition
- PRONOUNCE: Learn how to say it with audio file
- SELECT for ripeness and freshness
- PREPARE "to peel or not to peel?"
- RECIPES: simple, requiring the ingredient at hand and few others NUTRITION and HEALTH BENEFITS: learn why to eat these foods
- .. and more: History, Interesting Facts, Anecdotes
- Present your palate with a greater variety of tastes.
- Have more authentic and culturally-connected experiences by interacting with vendors directly connected with the produce they offer.
- Notice how the regional recipes are shaped by local produce. Your appreciation of these defining variations will increase.
- Many of the indigenous ingredients are astoundingly rich in nutrients. Super-food status! Locals have known for many generations of their benefits and disease-fighting properties. Your body will thank you for putting some really good stuff into it.
GRACIAS! The Rewards...
Residents of San Miguel de Allende should notify me-- your rewards can be picked up locally and your shipping can be refunded.
• Special price for contributors to this campaign: The guide will be sold in the iBookstore for 14.99 USD. During the campaign you can pre-order it for a contribution of just $12 CDN (that's about $9 USD)
Mexican printmaker, Jainite Silvestre was inspired by indigenous Nahuatl tradition to create this design for the guide. I'm delighted to share it with supporters of the campaign.
Risks and challenges
Until now, all the work– Photography, research, writing, editing and design –have been on my own time and funds. The goal of this campaign is to bring in the necessary help to tighten up the design and add the interactive features so I can focus on editing the final content.
• $1000 USD – Interactivity designer
• $1600 USD – Graphic designer
• $400 USD*
*Additional funds will be spread between getting some extra help with the site where I will be adding additional resources: more recipes, recommended restaurants, links to external sites etc. Much of the work, I can do, but hiring some help would vastly improve my quality of life!
Should the campaign surpass the goal I will be able to move more quickly on converting the design to be appropriate for more devices.
***Overall funding goal factors in Kickstarter commission, cost of rewards and the costs of launching the campaign
Support this project
- (32 days)