Latin American Gastronomy: Mexican Food

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Mexican cuisine
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Everyone loves a bit of Mexican food every now and then and if you don’t, then maybe we can change your mind. The main reason people are against Mexican food is that they think that it’s too spicy... this does not have to be the case. Authentic Mexican cuisine is a taste explosion of different flavors, spices, salsas and textures, but do we really know the authentic form of all of the typical dishes? Or perhaps the more obscure dishes that exist in Mexico today? Well, we’re about to find out... And if you're looking for the perfect guacamole recipe or want to know how a true Mexican taco is made, then sign up for our cooking class in Mexico!

Mexican food

Typical Mexican street food is the type of food that we associate with Tex-Mex. This is not necessarily a bad thing, however these dishes have been often poorly replicated in other countries and changed form, so we may have a slightly different perception of these dishes to what we would actually find in the real Mexico itself.

The main ingredients of Mexican cuisine would be corn, beans and chili, due to farming, which are included in many of their meals. The standard tacos, burritos, chimichangas, enchiladas, fajitas, and quesadillas do indeed exist in Mexico; but they are not designed to be as filling as they are in other restaurants where we might find imitations. Copious amounts of cheese and sour cream is an addition to the dishes by U.S.A restaurants; the dishes in Mexico will appear a lot fresher, healthier, and more natural, with fresh fruit and vegetables, fresh herbs, and chunky homemade salsa.

  • Taco - a folded crisp tortilla filled with meat, salad and cheese
  • Burrito - a flour tortilla wrapped around what is normally just ground meat, refried beans, and Mexican rice. They are much smaller than their Tex-Mex counterparts, as many more ingredients are often added.
  • Chimichanga- this is basically a deep fried burrito; very popular in Tex-Mex cuisine, and the Mexican areas of Sinaloa and Sonora.
  • Enchilada - a corn tortilla usually wrapped around meat, vegetables, and cheese, and baked in the oven topped with chili pepper sauce and cheese.
  • Quesadilla - In most parts of Mexico, the “tortilla” which is in this case cooked corn masa(dough) is filled with Oaxaca cheese, folded in half, and cooked in the oven until the cheese has melted. Other ingredients can be used to add flavor to the cheese.

The ever-popular Tex-Mex dishes covered, these are not all the dishes that Mexico has to offer. There are many different variations of these particular dishes, all of which have a different name in Mexico, for example, the sincronizada and the gringa are both similar to the quesadilla, and are often confused by tourists. The main differences just being the way they are folded, the slight adjustment in ingredients, and the type of tortilla. Mexico boasts such an ample cuisine and such a range of dishes, that unless you’ve been there, you may never have even heard of them...

Mexican food Pozole

Soups are quite surprisingly a big part of Mexican cuisine. Pozole is a traditional pre-Colombian soup in Mexico normally consisting of a pork, chili, and chicken broth. Extra ingredients are often added; fideo (noodles), albóndigas (meatballs) and even bits of tortilla, just as people put bread in their soup. Main Mexican courses often involve meat and sauces. Mole is the main sauce in Mexico, and can be used to describe almost everything, as there are so many versions of it; it can be red, black, yellow and green…so widely used that 99% of people in Mexico have tried it. Here are a few random Mexican specialties:

  • Bírria- A spicy Mexican meat stew, often with goat, lamb or mutton, and served around times of celebration, i.e. Christmas. Served with tortillas and garnish, this dish can also be consumed as a soup once the meat has been eaten.
  • Barbeque - Many meats are barbequed in the indigenous fashion. Barbacoa de cabeza is quite a famous specialty; a slow-cooked head of a cow. The rule with a Mexican barbeque is that no sauces or marinates are used until the meat is completely cooked. After the Spanish introduced the modern day meat from cattle, pigs, and other farmyard animals, this was the traditional way to cook them.
  • Chicharrón - fried pork rinds, seasoned and deep fried, eaten in Mexico with tacos and salsa (green). 
  • Escamoles - For those more adventurous among you, this is basically ant larvae. Just as we have caviar, this is considered a delicacy in many parts of Mexico. Apparently it has the texture of cream cheese, with the taste of nutty butter. Err, lovely… well, it’s there for you to try!

Seafood isn’t a food many people would associate with Mexico, but regions of the country by the coast, fish and seafood play a massive role in the diet. Shrimp are very common; in the usual Mexican manner of coating them in spices and putting them under the grill, or as a simple shrimp cocktail. Whole fish, cooked with fresh vegetables, herbs and lime, is also common, not forgetting that fish can also be used in tacos.

Cuisine

Hopefully now you can see there is more than meets the eye with Mexican cuisine. For such a diverse country, with an abundance of natural resources to take advantage of, these are only a very few examples. If you go there you can explore the cuisine for yourself. It really will be worth it; Mexican cuisine was added to UNESCO’S List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2010.