When we mention the term “Mexican cuisine”, several associations will first come to mind: hot, tortillas, corn, beans, sauces, chili. And indeed, all of the above forms the basis of numerous Mexican food recipes. If you’re planning a trip to this country, you will have the opportunity to experience all the fullness of the taste of this traditional cuisine, whether you enjoy it on a Sunday lunch with a local family or in a small night bar after a merry outing.
What are the dishes that make up the backbone of its cuisine? Well, definitely all those that include tortillas. Many of these dishes are thousands of years old and date back to the time of the ancient Aztecs.
Since there are so many interesting things about this cuisine, we’ve decided to gather them all in this article. Read below what we have prepared.
1. It’s almost ancient
Did you know that people from this country were the first to grow avocados and corn around 7000 BC? Talk about ancient recipes… Shortly afterward, the table was enriched with domestic turkey, musk duck, venison, quail, pigeons, fish, crabs, and shellfish. Chocolate was also born there.
These foods, along with potatoes, chili, pumpkin, tomatoes, and beans, formed the basis of the diet of these areas when the Spaniards overran the Mayan and Aztec civilizations in the early 16th century.
The conquistadors brought with them all European products, and thanks to their trade links, exotic foods such as rice from India. Particularly popular were citrus fruits, which allowed the coastal population to develop seviche, a technique of marinating fish in citrus juice until it is “cooked” from acid. Equally popular became pork, mainly because it added fat to the hitherto almost fat-free diet.
2. It’s all about corn and fruits
Corn is the most commonly used food in this cuisine. Whole grains are cooked in hearty soups. The grains are ground into coarse flour from which tamales are made, packets filled with meat or vegetables that are steamed wrapped in a corn husk or a banana leaf.
This cuisine is also characterized by fresh fruits and vegetables. Thanks to the diverse topography of these areas, almost every edible plant can be grown somewhere at a certain time of year. The choice is great, ranging from avocados and mangoes to cactus branches (prickly pear).
Poultry and beef are plentiful. The meat is usually stewed or grilled as in carne asada a la Tampiguena, a famous restaurant dish that can be found all over the country. Pork is the juiciest meat used and is used in many traditional dishes.
Seafood is also important in their cuisine. No wonder, since the coast is 9000 km long. Giant shrimp, shark, and rye are just some of the many exotic species that can be tasted, usually grilled with pepper and garlic.
3. Everything is cooked in special pots
It definitely wouldn’t be so authentic and delicious if it wasn’t for the special clay pots, used for cooking. A traditional cuisine like this would not be the same without olla de Barro pots. Many cultures worldwide have similar dishes for cooking, however, this one is also used for making chocolate. They come hand-painted, which makes them utterly decorative as well. Click here for more info about these pots.
4. Breakfast is served twice
A typical day begins with an early breakfast consisting of coffee, sweet bread, and pastries inherited from Spain. Fruit is often eaten for breakfast. It is important to point out that breakfast differs significantly in larger cities and on farms. So, farmers, for instance, start their day with heavy, fatty meals like stuffed peppers with cheese or even pork.
The second breakfast is eaten around noon and usually consists of a more hearty dish of fried eggs and fried bean puree, and fresh chili sauce. Only after you’ve had your two breakfasts, you can move on to the next meal, which is of course a regular lunch.
5. Almost every meal contains paprika
This cuisine experience is distinctly visual, and the plate is rich in colors derived from vegetables, fruits, and spices. For most people, this kind of food has a very spicy taste, and chili and paprika are found in almost every dish. For example, the combination of pineapple and chili is not strange for locals.
It is interesting to watch gentlemen in posh restaurants pulling their chili wrapped in a napkin from their jacket pockets during a meal and sprinkling it on their food.
6. Caesar salad was invented there
Most people would say that it is from the USA or Italy, but no. This famous dish was actually invented in Mexico. The story behind the dish speaks of an Italian guy, named Caesar, who immigrated to Tijuana. He owned a restaurant there and actually made this salad to attract as many foreign customers as he could. It was the lack of ingredients that made him invent it.
7. It’s the birthland of tomatoes
As was the case in the previous point, here we have an ingredient people think originates from Italy. Although used very much in their cuisine as well, tomatoes are actually a Mexican vegetable. They were brought to Europe in the sixteenth century.
Food is a big part of their tradition. These are the people who like to host each other, gather their family members at one table, eat together, and socialize.
Mexicans are people who enjoy sharing. Their women often bring out a table in front of their houses and offer the lunch they cooked that day to passers-by who get to eat delicious and cheap food. This is especially interesting to foreigners. The quality of the food prepared on the street and in the markets is a fresh and exceptional aroma, and everything is prepared before the eyes of the consumer.