Having gained Unesco city of gastronomy recognition, Tucson’s new wave of downtown restaurants are making the most of the area’s unusual desert foods
The desert surrounding Tucson, Arizona, is filled with soaring Saguaro cactus, their bright red fruits long a delicacy here. The abundance of this native food is one reason why, last December, Tucson became America’s first Unesco city of gastronomy, joining just 18 others worldwide, despite having fewer fancy restaurants than many US cities, and being one of its poorest.
“It’s a city whose food heritage is a big part of its identity,” says Gary Nabhan, director of the University of Arizona’s Center for Regional Food Studies. “Yes we have award-winning chefs, but the vitality of our farm-to-table food system is a key reason why we were recognised.”