Mexican cuisine is inherited from pre-Hispanic times, and it is very colorful, extravagant, creative, and exotic. Furthermore, we’re actually talking about a great collective of culinary traditions, full of variety and diversity. These are just a few of the many reasons why Mexican food is now considered to be Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. Of course, no such title is needed to enjoy such a delicious and rich cuisine. It demands to be appreciated to its fullest, without Tex-Mex dishes trying to pass as Mexican. The key is to stay away from touristy places and eat like a local.
What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Mexican food? I’m sure your mouth is watering just thinking about tacos, burritos, enchiladas, and spicy food. But did you know that the taco is not even the most popular Mexican dish? And actually, tacos in Mexico are never hard and crunchy (tostadas and tacos dorados, however, are quite crunchy!)
Mexicans are tough critics about a great taco. I personally define tacos as the perfect trilogy of a soft corn tortilla, a filling, and salsa. If you replace one of these, this is no longer a taco. So, if you come to Mexico do not expect to find a hard taco like they prepare at Taco Bell, because it does not exist in Mexico. Just enjoy the street food and be open to new things when it comes to food.
Chillies, alongside beans and corn, are the foundation of Mexican cuisine and found in most Mexican dishes, so it’s not surprising to find them in most recipes! Some extra chilli and a few sweat drops will not kill you. However, not all chillies are spicy and not all Mexican dishes have chilli in them. Because not all Mexicans tolerate spicy food. Salsas are a tasty and fun way to eat your meat or chicken. If you aren’t prepared to spicy food, it can be easy to feel as if you’ve been set on fire, mouth first.
On the other hand, Mexico offers a wide array of dishes for our palates that Mexicans are very proud of. Great-looking and great-tasting delicacies wait for you when you travel to this amazing country.
Mole is a thick sauce is typically made from various chiles (red, green, black poblano, etc) with any number of other ingredients including almonds or other nuts, bread, raisins, plantains, chocolate, cloves, cinnamon, pepper, cumin, and other. There are over three hundred moles prepared in different towns of Puebla state, each with its special variation. Recipes are closely held family secrets and passed down through the generations.
Cochinita is made with slow-roasted suckling pig seasoned with achiote paste (a bright-red seed native to Mexico), bitter oranges, onion, cumin, and other spices. The heat level depends on whether the chef uses habanero peppers in the mix. It is claimed that Habaneros are the hottest peppers on earth, and you will know their fury if you just pop a few in your mouth without thinking. Even if your cochinita ends up being mild and slightly sweet (like most versions) there is always a tiny bowl of sliced red onions and habaneros on the table that have been soaking in lime. Sprinkle a little bit of that on your taco and watch the smoke come out of your ears.
Chilaquiles, Mexico’s most beloved breakfast dish, has a basic look to it. The dish consists of deep-fried day tortilla slices bathed in a red or green sauce and covered with dollops of fresh cream, slices of raw onion, shredded cheese and then usually shredded chicken breast or a fried egg. Sounds delicious, right? It is! But it can also be blow-your-brains-out hot. This all depends on the salsa and the chilli. Always ask at a restaurant which is hotter (if it matters to you), as they usually have an option for those who like it hot, and those who don’t.
Served on Sinaloa state, this spicy snack has to be served with an ice-cold beer or you might never finish it. Aguachile is a kind of Mexican ceviche, that famous Peruvian dish made of raw fish and onions cooked in lime. This variation is made with raw shrimp, which are also “cooked” by lime juice but also mixed with fresh ground chilli peppers or a fresh green chilli. The chillies are ground with a little bit of water to make a sauce, giving the dish its name: agua (water) chile (pepper). This dish will make a day at the beach even hotter, but it’s so delicious.
For dessert, these are a must-try: tres leches (a kind of cake), cajeta, cochinito de piloncillo (these look like cookies), and of course, you have to have the authentic Mexican churro!
Be sure to try these dishes on your visit. I hope you savor them soon!