Sometimes you have to create what you want to see, and this restaurateur did just that.
Tiara Darnell is the owner of Blaxicocina, the only soul food restaurant in Mexico City, Mexico, according to DCist. Hailing from Mitchellville, MD, and having family from Washington, D.C., Darnell was missing flavors from home while living in Mexico City. Ahead of opening Blaxicocina — located in the Navarte neighborhood — she even had her mother bring what she could of Old Bay seasoning, which is a Maryland staple and important ingredient that she couldn’t find in Mexico.
Now, her first restaurant’s menu features fried chicken, Old Bay seasoned french fries, fried green tomatoes, cornbread, carrot cake, sweet tea, and more. The soul food made in Blaxicocina’s kitchen is comprised of Darnell’s family recipes.
“Things like that are foundational to soul food as we Black Americans know it,” Darnell told the outlet. “Pretty much every recipe that’s on the menu. These are all things that I made with my mom.”
In order to bring her vision to life, Darnell and her team work with local farmers to source ingredients, the outlet notes. In addition, the majority of her vendors, contractors, and staff members are from Mexico to ensure that the profit from the business is being poured back into the community.
Along with such collaborations, Darnell’s restaurant is helping to build a safe space for Black Americans who have moved to Mexico City, which she didn’t feel she had in the United States.
“We could stay in the U.S. and try to make things better — and there are people who do that and I commend them for doing that — but I think I just came to the realization that my life is so short and so precious, and I’m not going to spend it trying to fix a system that wasn’t created for me,” she said.