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Mexican Cuisine and Recipes

Information about Mexican Food, Recipes and cooking

Cooking by Country - December 2002



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Go to:-   Mexico Speciality Dish  |  Mexico Featured Ingredient  |  Cooking by Country Main Page



With 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.





Ancient Times, history and Influences on Mexican cooking


Authentic Mexican food is thought to have derived from the Mayan Indians who  were traditionally nomadic  hunter-gatherers occupying the Yucatan area in Southeast Mexico.


They 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.


By 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.


It 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.


This "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.



Current Day Mexican Cuisine


As 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.


Indeed,  some recipes which are thought of  as  traditionally Mexican by non-Mexicans,  are totally unknown in certain parts of Mexico. One 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.


Tex-mex cuisine

Tex-Mex 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. 


Recipes from Mexico - Click here for lots of Mexican Recipes

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