Beatriz Lopez Gargallo has been working for the Mexican Foreign Service since 1976. She’s lived and represented for her homeland in the United States, the Hellenic Republic and Honduras, and as a result, she’s seen many incarnations (and bastardisations) of her native culture. So how well does Melbourne do Mexican? And why are we suddenly so obsessed?
“It’s a combination of factors”, she tells us during one of her regular pit stops in Melbourne, “Mexico is a destination for a lot of tourists, and there is so much communication these days with the internet, film and Twitter, I think Australians have been inspired by what they have seen of our culture.”
Being Melbourne, most of that inspiration has been expressed through food. And kangaroo burritos and Tex-Mex aside, Gargallo reckons we’re on the right track. “You mostly understand our food, especially with the restaurants opening lately. It’s different to what you see at home but I see you enjoy the colour; the mix of the sweet with the spice, and through that you are enjoying our culture.”
For expats after more than a taco the Mexican Association (MexVic) along with the multicultural commission organize everything from film festivals to the Johnston Street Hispanic Festival. “They do very good work. Recently they even held a temescal bath (similar to a sweat lodge) which is an ancient tradition.”
But we're not ready to fly the tri-colours yet. “Some more art exhibition would be welcome, and Danzón! It is a very rhythmic type of dance that came from Cuba – I haven’t seen it in Melbourne."