Cultural Heritage: Traditional Mexican Cuisine Across Time

In 2010, Traditional Mexican Cuisine was inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.  Intangible cultural heritage represents inherited traditions from the past as well as contemporary practices. In this unit, students will learn about the cultural importance of Mexican cuisine across time by studying Pre-columbian Maya artifacts, colonial codices, contemporary posters, street art and other primary sources. Indigenous ethnic diversity, combined with the infusion of Old World foods upon the arrival of the Europeans in the 16th century, has created a cuisine worthy of a place on UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. This unit is in English for use in Art or Social Studies classes and can be adapted to the proficiency level of the Spanish language learners. Many of the online sources recommended in this unit are available in English and Spanish. 


Lesson 1 Cultural Heritage
Focus: cultural identity, cultural heritage, and food

Lesson 2 Using Ancient Maya Artifacts to Learn About Indigenous Contributions to Mexican Cuisine
Focus: tangible history, analysis of ancient objects, object based observations- activities, digital archive search for ancient Americas objects

Lesson 3 Tracing Mexican Cuisine During the Colonial Period
Focus: digital archive search for Colonial documents

Lesson 4 Threats to Traditional Mexican Cuisine
Focus: genetically-modified foods and NAFTA; street art and contemporary expression

Note to Teachers
Some resources may become inactive. If you need a resource and cannot access it, please email

Web Designers and Research Assistants
Jason Hackett, Joshua Josephy-Zack, Mia Josephy-Zack
Branford High School, Class of 2020