Morelia Travel Blog› entry 1 of 5 › view all entries
It is believed that authentic Mexican food, might have been derived from the Mayan indians, who were traditionally nomadic hunters and gatherers. The corn tortillas with bean paste were a very common thing in their every day diet. They also used to eat some tropical fruits and fish. When the Aztec empire took place around the 1300's chili peppers, honey, salt and chocolate found its way into their cooking. In 1521 when Spain conquered Mexico, food coming from that country made a big influence on Mexican cuisine. In this way, they introduced new livestock such as sheep, pigs, cows, also garlic with many different herbs, wheat and new spices as well. Due to this, Mexican food comprises a great variety of food, yet dishes varies from region to region.
Generally speaking the basic ingredients of Mexican cuisine are typically corn and beans. The first one has a very important role as a principal part of a number of dishes. Most of times is used to make "masa" (a dough for tamales, tortillas, gorditas, sopes and many other corn based foods). Chocolate plays a especial role as well, it is served in a wide array of dishes from savory dishes such as "chicken mole" to traditional Mexican style hot chocolate. We also have a wide variety of chilies that are commonly combined with several herbs such as cumin, oregano, coriander, wormseed, cinnamon, different vegetables such as tomates, onion, potatoes, carrots and lot of other more.
Mexican food varies by region because of local climate, geography, and ethnic differences.
Now we need to mention particularly "Tex- Mex food" this term describes a especial type of food coming from Spanish/Mexican recipes combined with Anglo fare. The cuisine has spread from border states such as Texas and all those situated on the Southwestern United States.
Just for cutural information it is mentioned here what we called " Prehispanic Mexican food" because this was the food our ancestors used to have before Spain conquered Mexico, which consists on exotic dishes cooked with ingredients ranging from deer, rattlesnake, monkey, snake, and even a variety of insects like grasshoppers.
Finally due to the fact that Mexican food is considered a cultural thing or legacy for all Mexicans and of course this is something very appreciated and famous in lot parts of the world. Here you are, more info, sort of a basic glossary about the most popular dishes you are having in a Mexican restaurant. Sometimes, you will find this food at the menu with the name of "Antojitos Mexicanos" So, I hope the next info, may be interesting and useful for travelers who likes Mexican food or are coming to visit Mexico.
Enchiladas: Tortillas coated in a tomato and chili sauce, stuffed with boiled vegetables like carrots, potatoes, lettuce, chicken folded and baked, covered with pieces of onion, cream and fresh cheese. There is also a variety named "Enchiladas Suizas" (topped with sour cream, and a especial gratinated cheese).
Mole: A very rich sauce, made of chocolate, peanuts, chilies and other spices which color can be from a green to a red one or even a dark brown depending on type of chili. The most popular are "Mole Poblano" and "Mole Oaxaqueño" these names are related to the place they were originally coming. In this case Puebla or Oaxaca state. The last one is sweeter and darker comparing to the first one.
Pozole: A hot white or red soup ( when is added a special chili pepper) made of corn with meat usually pork, chicken or turkey and other seasonings and garnish. This is very popular to have in special occasions. Is usually served with lettuce, radish, onion, oregano and some chili.
Tacos dorados: A crispy fried tortilla, served with different fillings like chicken, beef, beans topped with sour cream, lettuce, fresh cheese, and a spicy red or green sauce.
Tacos al Pastor: A tortilla served with pork cooked in a special fire device that is rolling constantly (sometimes can be beef rather tha pork) is served with pieces of onion, coriander, pineapple, and spicy sauce.
Gorditas: A very thick rounded fried, little tortilla cut into two parts where is put a filling made of beef, chicken or beans covered with vegetables (potatoe, and carrot previously boiled) Sometimes topped with sour cream, lettuce or cabbage and sauce. There is a variety that is just simple sweet gordita as well.
Sopes: A variety of thick fried tortilla, that contains like a little hollow in the middle, made of similar filling mentioned previously in the gorditas description.
Tostadas: Thin and crisp tortilla, served loaded with guacamole (avocado, generally mixed with tomatoe and onion) other times contains chicken, or beef, and finally can be made of even ham and a thin layer of beans in this last case is topped with carrots, potatoes sour cream, cheese and lettuce.
Tamales: A big and long piece of cooked corn pastry or cake which can be sweet or salty (when is salty is red or green filled with chicken, pork or beef) This a very popular and cheap food that you will see that is even sold it on the streets and people usually have it with atole.
Uchepos: These are very famous here in my state Michoacan. They are sort of a variety of tamales, but the difference between these and common tamales is that uchepos are directly made of sweetcorn and can be served with green or red sauce, cheese, sour cream, and little slices of poblano chili. Depending on the topping can be served as a sweet or salty dish.
Corundas: Another typical dish from Michoacan, they are like little hot triangle pieces of corn cooked, topped with sour cream, cheese, spicy sauce some chilie slices and pork.
Atole: A hot sweet drink corn beverage made of different flavors such as cinnamom, chocolate, vanilla, blackberry, strawberry, coconut, or even sometimes from regional fruits like (guava, tamarindo, quince).
Quesadillas: Tortilla stuffed with cheese, folded and grilled served with guacamole, beans or salad, sometimes comes topped with a green or a red sauce. Quesadillas can be stuffed with beef, mushrooms, or other things).
Chilaquiles: Tortilla cut into little pieces, sometimes is combined with scramble eggs, or chicken sour cream, onion, cheese or red or green sauce.
Chocolate: A hot beverage made of choclolate and milk.
Buñuelos: A very big thin crispy and sweet piece of flour, corn and other ingredients usually served with atole or some hot beverage.
Bon appetit!... enjoy it!