In 2015, Tucson was designated a World City of Gastronomy by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), becoming the first city in the United States to receive the designation. How did it earn such an honor? The Sonoran Desert (over which we here in Phoenix have just as strong a claim) has the longest agricultural history of any area in North America, spanning over 4,000 years, with early civilizations cultivating cactus, mesquite, tepary beans, corn, sunflowers, and squash. In modern times, the Native Seeds nonprofit has been collecting and creating a seed library of local desert flora for over 30 years, effectively preserving many of the native plants of the Sonoran. So a trip down south to celebrate Tucson's UNESCO designation is really just a celebration of Arizona's unique culinary heritage. And hey, it's a great excuse for a Labor Day mini road trip.
On Sunday, September 3, the Heritage Foods Festival is being hosted by Hacienda Del Sol Guest Ranch Resort. There will be a panel discussion about UNESCO culinary heritage and a tour given by the staff in the Dr. Andrew Weil botanical garden to discuss what’s grown and used by the culinary team.
The dinner will feature native ingredients, including tamales, chile Colorado, pozole, roasted pig pibil, fry bread, cornmeal pudding, white menudo, raspados, and Mexican cookies.
There will also be a mini farmers market where local vendors will be selling native ingredients and handicrafts, as well as stalls offering tastings of local wine, beer, and spirits.
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All events and tastings are included in the $55 ticket price, and can be booked through the resort.