by Kirsten Hawkins
Just south of the United States and bordering the Gulf of
Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, Mexico is quickly advancing both
culturally and economically. The devaluation of the peso in
1994 threw the Mexican economy into a frenzy, lowering their
per capita income to a mere quarter of that of the United
States. Through repeated social and economic turmoil, the rich
cultures of the original Yucatan civilizations has remained,
though somewhat jaded after their emersion from under Spanish
rule in the 19th century.
It isn't hard to research the rich history of Mexican cuisine.
When the Spaniards first landed in Tenochtitlan (present-day
Mexico City) they carefully chronicled every aspect of life
there in Mexico, especially the food and cooking techniques of
the natives. During their observations, they noticed that the
Mexicans had a lot of corn-based foods. This was due to the
fact that maize was Mexico's chief crop at the time. A lot of
these notes have carefully been preserved in the name of
history--not that that is necessary. The Mexican culture has
continued to live on through food, if through nothing else at
Be warned: Mexican food is not for the faint of stomach.
Consisting of such rich, heavy foods as tortillas, chili
peppers, and beans, many bodies cannot take the richness and
spiciness of Mexican cuisine.
Mexican food is one cuisine that will always have a taste and
sabor (flavor) all its own. Present-day Mexican food is a
mixture of original Mayan and Aztec cuisine combined with the
influence of the culture of the Spanish conquistadores. While
Tex-Mex and local "authentic" Mexican restaurants have become
very skilled in mastering the style of Mexican cooking, there
is no comparison between the Americanized "restaurant" version
and the real thing. Mexican food is known for its wealth of
spices and intense, deep flavoring.
Tortillas are the staple of Mexican cuisine. Tortillas are made
by curing maize in lime water, kneading the mixture into a
dough, and cooking the thin patties on a flat grill. The most
common tortillas in the United States' version of Mexican food
are made of corn, although this version of the corn tortilla is
quite unlike the original, authentic version. Authentic corn
tortillas are made by hand on a flat grill (called a comal).
The corn is ground by hand, resulting in thick tasty tortillas
that the grocery store versions pale in comparison to. Flour
tortillas were implemented only after the Spaniards introduced
wheat to the Mexican region.
Chiles are another staple in traditional Mexican cuisine,
adding color and dimension to many traditional Mexican dishes.
Bell peppers, tabasco peppers, and paprika peppers add the
color and the flavor kick that Mexican food is so known for.
It is also important to take into consideration that Mexican
cuisine varies in reference to the region it is coming from or
being made in. Northern-style Mexican food normally consists of
dishes with a lot of beef, while southern-style Mexican cuisine
consists more of chicken and vegetables such as bell pepper,
radishes, and broccoli, more than anything else. Veracruz is
also another common style of Mexican food, coming from the
coastal areas in Mexico. Veracruz cuisine, which was named
after a state in Mexico and its largest city, consists of
seafood such as fish and shrimp. More indigenous areas have
even been known to incorporate spider monkey and iguana into
their meals. Especially while in Mexico, "Mexican Food" does
not always imply tacos and burritos.
Authentic Mexican cuisine is not to be confused with the
Americanized Tex-Mex or New Mexican food (versions of Mexican
food in Texas and New Mexico).
About The Author: Kirsten Hawkins is a food and nutrition
expert specializing the Mexican, Chinese, and Italian food.
Visit http://www.food-and-nutrition.com/ for more information
on cooking delicious and healthy meals.