If you live or were raised in the United States, the chances are good that you have tried Mexican food at some point during your life. It has been estimated that at least 10% of all restaurants across the country serve some Mexican dishes, making Mexican cuisine the most popular international cuisine in the nation. Moreover, more than 70% of all households have authentic Mexican ingredients for when they want to have some great food without having to go to a Mexican restaurant.
USA Today has put out a new piece on this delicious food and what people may not know when they go to their local Mexican restaurant.
Today’s Mexican food combines a number of foods from a variety of places.
Mexico is a fairly large place. The foods there, as happens elsewhere, include dishes that have been impacted by where they were developed, the climate conditions, and what traders from other places brought with them. Many people may not be surprised by the influence Spanish cuisine had on the local Mexican food but that was not the only foreign influence. In addition to current Mexican cuisine being a fusion of Mayan, Aztec, and Spanish culinary ways, it also has taken aspects from West-African and Carribean cooking.
Now, many of the main ingredients used in Mexican restaurants and homes were developed by the Aztecs. These include tortilla, tamales, salsa, and chocolate. They have been credited with opening Mexico’s first street vending operations.
There are some dishes that are true classics in the world of Mexican cuisine. If you have never had these, the next time you head over to the best Mexican place near you, consider trying the following”
- Mole sauce: Like salsa, there are a number of kinds of mole sauce to choose from. Mole sauce combines chocolate and savory spices. The best known of the mole sauces is Mole Poblana. It has a long ingredient list that includes tomatoes, nuts, seeds, cinnamon, and spices. If you want something different and are having poultry, you should get a mole that has chili peppers predominantly featured.
- Pozole: This stew was developed by the Aztecs. It is often served for holiday festivities and when people are celebrating. Basically, it has meat with hominy, which are then covered in a variety of vegetables.
- Birria: This is another stew used to celebrate. Its base is goat meat that has been marinated and then topped with roasted peppers. Tortilla strips are used as a garnish along with lime.
- Mexico’s national meal is chiles en nogada. The ingredients needed to make it are in season in September when the nation celebrates its Independence Day, which is not Cinco de Mayo, they celebrate independence on September 16th. When making this, people use foods that match the colors on the Mexican flag. Green chilies are filled with some kind of spicy meat, a white walnut sauce is used to top it off and then red pomegranate seeds are added for color.
- Mexican bakes goods: There are a number of baked delicacies you can find at Mexican restaurants and bakeries. Many of these use techniques that came from the Spanish and the French but people in Mexico used their magic to create their own fantastic sweet delights, which are referred to as pan dulces. Conchas look like shells, orejas are flaky and thin pastries, mantecedas are similar to muffins but are more spongey and buttery. The list is too long to include here but if you are at a Mexican restaurant, it is worth giving their pastries a try.
Street food in Mexico is divine. Here are some dishes to try if you find yourself south of the border.
- Barbacoa tacos: They have been sold on Mexican streets for centuries, with good reason They are the descendants of the Aztec variety that were sold at outdoor markets. These should be made of slow roasted lamb, places in a soft tortilla, and served with salsa.
- Tamales: These are a favorite for just about every meal. Corn masa dough is rolled and filled with chicken, pork, cheese, or something else. The whole thing is then wrapped in a corn husk and steamed.
Regardless of where you get it, Mexican foods offer a large number of delightful options and flavors.