It is claimed that Mexico has the most vast and varied cuisine in the world, after Chinese, which might be something of a shock to Mexican fast food fiends who thought that burritos and tacos were the only kinds of food Mexicans eat. Every area of Mexico has its own recipes and the Yucatan fare is especially flavorsome, with its Caribbean, Mexican, Mayan and Lebanese recipe influences.
Not all Mexican foods are spicy but some are and chili peppers are widely used in Mexican dishes. There are many kinds of chili peppers including jalapeo, pasilla, habanero, poblano, serrano and more. Mexicans eat a varied diet of fresh fish, meat, seafood, poultry, grains, fruit, and vegetables. Sauces, stews, and soups are common fare and Mexican cooking methods include slow roasting, deep-frying, and baking.
Most of the produce consumed is fresh and never more than two days old. Herbicide and pesticide are not used much, because of the cost, and fruit and vegetables are picked ripe. Mexicans prefer seasonal produce to imported fruit and vegetables and nearly everything grown is eaten locally, except in Mexico City where the goods which are unlikely to sell locally are exported.
Favorite Mexican Dishes
Tortillas are so much a Mexican food staple that the price in controlled by the government and kept at five pesos a kilo! A tortilla is a ball of masa, or corn dough, which is flattened into a thin disc. They are traditionally made of corn and supermarkets make them fresh all day. Tortillas are used to make traditional Mexican tacos. Authentic tacos are soft, not like the rigid U-shaped Taco Bell variety.
Corn is used to make tacos and tamales, as well as tortillas. Beans are included in many stews and soup and include fava beans, lentils, and kidney beans. Tomatoes are used in a lot of Mexican sauce recipes and they feature in salsa Mexicana.
Fruit is popular in Mexico and is eaten fresh or used in desserts and sauces. Papaya, coconut, mango, and pineapple are all favorites. Nopales, which are prickly pear cactus paddles, are sauted and eaten like a vegetable. You can also get them sweetened and used in Mexican dessert recipes.
Condiments and Salsas
A lot of people enhance their Mexican dishes with salsa, lime, or sour cream. In an authentic Mexican restaurant you will be served little bowls containing fresh cilantro, chopped onion, salsa Mexicana, lime, a hot chili salsa and a mild chili salsa. Salsa Mexicana contains onion, fresh tomatoes, cilantro and habanero chili. Guacamole, an avocado and lime dip, is a popular condiment. You might also get charred green onions mixed with limejuice and Worcestershire sauce.
Mexican food is rich in color and flavor and fresh produce is very important. There are probably more myths about Mexican food than any other cuisine, with people confusing Tex Mex and Mexican style fast food for the real thing but real Mexican cuisine is a real joy.