Mexican Cuisine and Recipes
Information about Mexican Food, Recipes and cooking
by Country - December 2002
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most of its borders being coastline, you can expect Mexico's cuisine to
heavily feature fresh fish and seafood. But with good grazing areas in the
north, fertile agricultural land to the south and a climate suitable for
the growing of tropical plants, Mexican cooking uses a wealth of
fresh ingredients to create a dynamic cuisine.
Times, history and Influences on Mexican cooking
Mexican food is thought to have derived from the Mayan Indians who were
traditionally nomadic hunter-gatherers occupying the Yucatan area in
subsisted on wild game, including rabbit, deer and turkey as well as fish,
tropical fruit, beans and corn. It is interesting to note that corn and beans
have "complimentary" amino acids. That is to say that eaten together
they provide the full complement of amino acids which is imperative to the
body in order to produce protein, without which the body performs at a
diminished level or ceases to function altogether. Corn tortillas spread with
bean paste was a common food.
the mid 1300's The Aztec Empire was thriving. Whilst the traditional
Mayan ingredients above were still staples, cacao (chocolate), vanilla, honey,
salt and chili peppers gained prominence in cooking and the wild
turkey and duck were now domesticated.
was, however, the conquest of Mexico by Spain in 1521 which had the most
influence on Mexican cuisine. Not only did they introduce new livestock to
the area, such as pigs, cows and sheep, but they also introduced dairy products
such as cheese as well as garlic, many herbs, including coriander,
an abundance of spices and wheat. Talking of wheat, the traditional Tortilla
was, and still is, made from Cornmeal (maize) NOT wheat! It was only in
the north where the Spanish ranches and mines were mostly situated, that wheat
prevailed as a staple.
"colonial" period also saw the assimilation many other cuisines and
ingredients including French, Portuguese, Caribbean (particularly in the
Veracruz area in the southeast), West African and South American.
Day Mexican Cuisine
one would expect from its varied culinary history, Mexican cuisine today
is diverse , daring and delicious. Whilst beans, chocolate, corn, squash, tomatoes,
chocolate, avocado, vanilla, spices, and of course, chili peppers
are still popular ingredients throughout Mexico, dishes do vary from
region to region.
some recipes which are thought of as traditionally Mexican by
non-Mexicans, are totally unknown in certain parts of Mexico.
example is the Burrito which is basically a stuffed wheat tortilla -
popular in the North but unheard of in the South where corn is still king.
is the name given to the mix of Northern Mexican and Southern
US (Texan) cooking. Traditional dishes have been changed to create
this cuisine and whilst some of the ingredients used are to be
found in Mexican cuisine, often ingredients unused in Mexico are added.