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Reading recipes is fine, watching cooking shows is good, but ya gotta have the smells for a complete culinary experience. Tonight, acclaimed Mexican-born chef Zarela Martinez, who has pursued a career in the States, opening a restaurant in New York, and publishing books on her native cuisine, presents “Mexican Gastronomy: A Culinary Journey Through Mexican Culture,” a lecture and cooking demonstration that’s sure to be full of heady scents. She’ll discuss the rich history and traditions of Mexican food and prepare dishes including pure de papas, camarones rancheros, and mole verde. Don’t refuse the mole; it’s an insult to do so. It’s served on special occasions, such as weddings and religious celebrations, and holds a sacred place in Mexican culture. Following the demonstration will be a reception featuring some of Martinez’s favorite antojitos. So forget the burrito at lunch today; instead, enrich your cultural knowledge and pleasure your palate tonight at 7 p.m. at the Mexican Cultural Institute, 2829 16th St. NW. $20. For reservations call (202) 728-1675. (Liz Eckstein)