Anais Martinez: Gastronomic Extraordinaire
Anyone who knows me well knows how strongly I feel about food. Specifically eating. I cook often because I love to eat good. Imagine my delight when I discovered Anais Martinez’ website, The Curious Mexican, where she documents her adventures as a knowledgeable culinary tour guide in Mexico City. She makes a living by taking visitors on personalized ‘eatineraries’ — the best spots to eat and drink. From produce markets to street taco joints, to gourmet eateries, to mezcalerias, she gets paid to eat her way through CDMX. Let that sink in.
Anais studied Gastronomy where she learned about restaurant administration, food science, how to cook different types of cuisines, food history, the psychology of food (!!) and so on. Who knew food was so multifaceted! After graduating, she held a job in the restaurant industry for a few years. She quit that gig in favor of moving to Italy to pursue graphic design and food stylism. A woman after my own heart.
Where are you from?
I was born in Mexico City and currently enjoy living in my hometown again after spending some time in the UK and Florence, Italy where I studied graphic design and food stylism.
Describe the work you do
I’ve been giving culinary tours in Mexico City for the past 4 years which means I’ve had the chance to roam the streets and markets with people from all over the world, showcasing some of the best Mexican culinary dishes and street food. I do some consulting for different businesses and restaurants. And occasionally, I work as a recipe developer.
What’s the best thing about your job?
I get to know people from all around the world who are just as interested as I am in food and learning about its history. Also, I literally get paid to eat, I’m always surrounded by foodies and I get to brag about my country.
And the worst?
People who come to my country thinking they already know everything there is to know about Mexican food because “they have great Mexican restaurants in their country.” I do enjoy seeing them realize how little they truly know and how interesting and diverse our cuisine actually is.
How did you get into this profession?
Coming back from studying abroad, I didn’t know what I wanted to work in, I just knew I loved food but didn’t want to go back to the restaurant life. So I was browsing through the web when I bumped into a food tour company offering tours in my city and sent them my info and CV. I didn’t hear from them in 5 months, until one day they called and hired me on spot. I’ve been working with them ever since. The writing came naturally after that, I felt the need to showcase some of the basic recipes and traditions of my country, along with great foodie spots.
What’s the culinary/foodie scene like in Mexico City?
From the smallest street or market stand to the fancy and higher-end restaurants, the landscape is vibrant and diverse. It’s been really exciting to witness restaurants, chefs and brewers fulfill the growing demand for good food. And alongside, there’s also an increasing need of identity through food, so people also turned their interest towards our traditional regional cuisine, which just makes me eager to see what’s coming up.
What’s your favorite restaurant?
A very hard question, since there are so many places I love, but Maximo Bistrot and Rosetta are my top two places when I feel like splurging. If I feel like diving into a taco al Pastor I’d go to Vilsito, a place that works as a car workshop during daytime and a taco joint during nighttime and has the most amazing Pastor tacos in town, served on a warm tortilla with a thin slice of fresh pineapple and the exact amount of salsa — perfection in a taco.
And favorite food?
Another really hard question since it all depends on my mood. But the three things I couldn’t live without would be chocolate, craft beer and coffee, not necessarily together though.
If a friend is visiting Mexico City for the first time, where would you take them to eat and drink?
I would first take them for a guava pastry to Rosetta Bakery. Then I’d take them to a market to eat freshly made tlacoyos (oval-shaped patties stuffed with fava beans, really similar to a pupusa) and browse around the many different fruits and ingredients available. I’d finish up the day with a visit to Vilsito, my favorite taco joint.
Who’s your hero (and why)?
That’s an easy one — Anthony Bourdain! He has the best life and the best job, I mean he gets paid to eat, drink and travel around the globe. That would definitely is my dream and goal in life.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Do something you love, it will definitely not give you any money at the beginning but if you’re consistent and you truly love it, money will eventually come. I’ve followed that advice and I can tell you, even though it hasn’t been easy all the time, it’s worth it.
What’s your definition of success?
I know it’s a chichè but I strongly believe that finding a job that you love so much you can’t believe you’re getting paid for it. And to be happy and proud of what you do every day of your life.