Here, I am going to show from the roots of the city, the Aztec roots of the city, through its artistic wealth of history of muralism and street art, all the way up to the youngest generation of Chilangos, that are making this city one of the coolest in the world.
I love Latin American pre-colonial cultures. It’s such a different, incredible world and so artistic, creative, scientific, and almost completely wiped away by the arrival of the Spanish.
There’re seven layers of civilizations that were built here by the Aztecs before the Spanish arrived. And that was all done within 200 years, from founding the city to meeting the Spanish for the first time in the 1500s. And the crazy thing is that after the Spanish came, they literally destroyed all traces of the Aztec civilization. They used the stones to build the new cathedral, and the whole place was buried underground until they rediscovered this whole temple in the 1970s.
It was a big lake with a system of canals and little islands where they used to grow all sorts of food. Nowadays, Xochimilco is kind of a little party spot. People come here; they hop on these “trajineras” flat-bottomed boats. They’re polled around, like in Venice. There’s a lot of wildlife, a lot of birds.
You can see there a “Chinampa”, man-made islands where they’ve just kind of reclaimed some of the soil and made it into farmland. There, you will not that far geographically from the city, but it feels like you are miles and miles away. This place almost disappeared in the 1800s. They diverted a lot of water away from these canals, and it almost dried up. They made an effort to save this area as a nature reserve and cultural reserve, as well, because this way of life is thousands of years old.
Literally, the food available there has to be one of the most chill lunches of all time: quesadilla with blue corn tortillas and inside you have pumpkin flowers with mushrooms, these all food available here are cultivated here only. In the chinampa, Xochimilco means field of flowers, there’s a beautiful flower farm. You can found out about the “chapín” technique. They go into the canals, dig out the mud and plant seeds into these little cubes of mud. Once they start sprouting, they’ll break the cube into little plants and that are just individual plants. The interest in locally grown food in a traditional way, that’s really allowing this sort of production to survive on such a small scale. It’s just a cool thing to observe.
Chapultepec: Aztec for a hill of the grasshoppers. This was built for the Spanish viceroys, but it actually is famous for being the only occupied royal residence in the Americas.
Napoleon the third who was a French king, he put in a power guy named Maximillian the first, and Mexico was briefly ruled as a monarchy. If you’re American, you might recognize the words “the halls of Montezuma” from the U.S.Marines’ anthem, their hymn, and that refers to here, which was the final battle of the Mexican American war. The U.S. Marines stormed the place. A couple of teenage soldiers defended it. They died and became martyrs known as the “Niños Heroes” or the Children Heros.
Down here, they make cocktails using pre-Columbian ingredients. That means, before the arrival of Columbus to the New World from Europe 1492. Everything that happened before 1492 is Pre-Columbian. They’ve got a whole selection of cocktails: classics and also some that are seasonal.
This place is supposedly really good. It looks super cool. The United Nations says that insects are going to be one of the best protein sources for the world. This place is famous for insect food.