Estudios sociales (Hermosillo, Son.)
Print version ISSN 0188-4557
VILLEGAS DE GANTE, Abraham and CERVANTES ESCOTO, Fernando. Genuineness and typicity in the revalorization of artisanal Mexican cheeses. Estud. soc [online]. 2011, vol.19, n.38, pp.145-164. ISSN 0188-4557.
In this essay two key concepts for the revalorization of artisanal Mexican cheeses are discussed: genuineness and typicity. Firstly, taking the definition of cheese, the authenticity of the product, which is the result of various factors in the region where it is made, is emphasized; in addition, the products currently sold in Mexico are contrasted with those produced some decades ago. Subsequently, the issue of real cheeses and cheese-like products (imitations) is addressed, a classifications system for cheeses and imitations is proposed, and the importance of the artisanal cheese industry is underscored. Then, the concept of genuineness is discussed; the term is equivalent to authentic and original, according to the geographic origin of the product and its attachment to tradition. Genuine is synonymous of pure and legitimate; false is the opposite of genuine; false cheeses are the opposite of genuine; false cheeses are the cheese imitations. The essential traits of genuine cheeses are noted, and it is pointed out that about 40 varieties have been identified, among which some of them, such as asadero, Chihuahua and Cotija, are highlighted. Then the concept of typicity is considered along with their dimensions: the product itself, the process of making it, and its socio-cultural representation. The product/region link (terroir), the tradition and its history as a source of typicity are signaled out. Finally, the importance of revalorizing genuine Mexican cheeses is underscored and justified on the basis that they form part of our cultural heritage and contribute to local development. The characterization of these products, highlighting their genuineness and typicity, may help to create a protective economic device such as a collective regional brand or a designation of origin (DO) which may ensure sustainable production of these cheeses and their preservation.
Keywords : artisanal mexican cheese; genuineness; typicity.