The Flavor of Latin America
Everyone loves a bit of Mexican food every now and then. If you think otherwise, maybe we can change your mind. The main reason some people get nervous about Mexican food is that they think that it’s too spicy... but this does not have to be the case. You can opt for a cheesy quesadilla or chicken with sweet chocolate mole sauce! Authentic Mexican cuisine boasts a rich variety of flavors, spices, salsas, and textures, so there's something for everyone. Want to learn about some obscure dishes that exist in Mexico today? Well, we’re about to find out... And if you're like what you read, sign up for our cooking courses in Mexico and learn how to prepare the perfect guacamole!
Street Food vs Real 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 sometimes been poorly replicated in other countries and changed form, so we may have a slightly different perception of these dishes than what we would actually find in the real Mexico itself. For streets full of markets and street food stands, we recommend you visit the city of Guanajuato.
The Ingredients of Mexican Cuisine
The main ingredients of Mexican cuisine are corn, beans, and chilis, 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 countries where we might find imitations.
Restaurants in the U.S. add copious amounts of cheese and sour cream to many dishes; the food you'll find in Mexico will be a lot fresher, healthier, and more natural, with fresh fruit and vegetables, fresh herbs, and chunky homemade salsa.
Most Popular Mexican Dishes
Problems with Spanish food vocabulary? We've got you covered for your next trip to Mexico with this comprehensive list:
- Taco - a folded 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.
- 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 a wide range of dishes that unless you’ve been there, you may never have even heard of them... Here goes a tip for cheese lovers: Oaxaca is the land of a soft white cheese that will drive you crazy.
Soups, Mole, and Other Specialties
Soups are quite surprisingly a big part of Mexican cuisine. Pozole is a traditional pre-Columbian dish in Mexico normally consisting of a pork, chili, and chicken broth. Extra ingredients are often added, like 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 a typical sauce in Mexico with many versions and flavors; it can be red, black, yellow, or green… try them all to find your favorite. Here are a few more 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 following indigenous traditions. Barbacoa de cabeza, the slow-cooked head of a cow, is quite a famous specialty.
- Chicharrón - fried pork rinds, seasoned and deep fried, eaten in Mexico with tacos and salsa (green).
- Escamoles - For the adventurous eater, 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!
A Taste Fresh From the Sea
Seafood isn’t a food many people would associate with Mexico, but in certain cities by the coast, like Playa del Carmen, fish and seafood play a massive role in the diet. Shrimp are very common, you can usually find them either coated in spices and grilled or in a simple shrimp cocktail. Whole fish, cooked with fresh vegetables, herbs, and lime, is also common. Fish and shrimp can also be used in tacos!
Hopefully now you can see there is more to Mexican cuisine than meets the eye. For such a diverse country, with an abundance of natural resources to take advantage of, these are only a very few examples. Mexican cuisine was added to UNESCO’S List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2010, so when you travel to Mexico, dig in!