Mexican Cuisine

Sometimes spicy, always tasty: Mexico Cuisine

Introduction

Undoubtedly an important part of Mexican culture is its varied cuisine. When Christopher Columbus started his search for valuable species in 1492, instead of arriving in India, he found America, sparking off the conquest of countries which like México opened the world to new culinary horizons with its universal donation of vanilla, avocado, corn, tomato and chocolate, among others.

Mexican food is popular throughout the world. But the kind you're probably used to - tacos with guacamole, quesadillas, enchiladas and carnitas - is only a small part of this country's culinary repertoire. With its variety of indigenous civilisations, each region in México is marked by a distinct aroma, taste and texture.

In central México you'll find a blend of Aztec and Spanish. Typical is the centuries old 'mole poblano', a thick, dark sauce made with dried chiles, nuts, seeds, spices, cocoa and other ingredients.

Southern México, with its variety of dried peppers, is famous for its savoury herbed stews and sauces.

Seafood, garnished with tomatoes and herbs followed by rich coffee is the basic meal along the Pacific Coast. And in the Yucatán Peninsula, dinner is likely to be a Mayan delicacy like 'pork pibil' cooked in banana leaves with the famed 'achiote' sauce.

In food, as in everything else, the Mexican people have found a way to raise the everyday basics to an art form.

It is also pertinent to point out that the fundamental Mexican food is based on corn, black beans and Chile. With these considerations in mind, some easy recipes for Mexican food are presented.

Mexican Cuisine and its Origin

The richness of our cuisine flows from our concern for the sensory experience of eating, for we know that the taste, smell, and look of food can enrich an inspire the spirit. It is often said that 'cuisine is culture' and, to understand the development of Mexican cuisine, it is important to know something of the history of Mexico. In the pre-Colombian period, the diet of Mexican ancestors was purely native, with nutrition based on the great product of Mexican agriculture, corn. When thrashed and boiled into a 'pozole', the corn could be made into flavorful tortillas and tamales, or rendered into flour for other variations.

The diet of corn was supplemented with vegetables and meat. A great variety of spices, known as 'chile,' could be combined with sweet potato, beans, squash, 'chayote', and 'jicama'. Early mexicans also relied on herbs such as 'los quelites', 'quintoniles', 'huazontles', and a wide range of mushrooms. Indigenous wildlife such as deer, rabbits, armadillos, raccoons, 'tepezcuintles' and birds such as turkeys, pigeons, and quails could also be served. Even turtles, snakes and frogs could be made to complement the native American plate.

Some of the greatest innovations in Mexican cuisine came from the inspiration of nuns, among whose activities were to cook for the monks and priests. In great feasts held in the honor of the Viceroy, the nuns of the famous convents in Puebla, Michoacan and Oaxaca attained brilliance in traditional bakery. The nuns developed many new pastries and covered sweets, including 'natillas', 'jamoncillos', 'cajetas', and 'buòuelos'. The most famous of the nuns creations is the spicy 'mole poblano' sauce born from the 'mulli' a typical sauce of the 'nahuas' which combines a variety of 'chiles'. For a dinner to receive a new archbishop, one of the nuns of the Convento de Santa Rosa de Puebla decided to alter the 'mulli' by adding other seasonings such as chocolate, peanuts, sesame and cinnamon just to reduce its overwhelming spicyness.

During the 19th century, mexican woman played a profound role in domestic life. To be a good women in Mexico means to have a profound knowledge and great skill in preparing the cuisine. The imagination, talent and gift for improvisation of the women of that period contributed much to the recipes which have been handed down to us. The demand for their delicious dishes around the world is a testament to them.

Mexicans are very proud of their cuisine; to them, it gives a sense of unity and identity around the world.

 



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