A Look at Modern Mexican Food Culture
In order to understand modern Mexican food culture it is necessary to go back to the time of the Mayans living in the Yucatan region. These nomadic hunter-gatherers lived off rabbits, armadillos, birds, deer, and other wildlife. They would even eat frogs, turtles, and snakes. Beans, corn, tropical fruit, and fish were also eaten in those times. Bean paste spread on a corn tortilla was a popular snack at the time. Early Mexicans also used mushrooms and herbs to liven up their Mexican recipes.
Typical Mexican Food Ingredients
Before there was any European influence in Mexico, the diet was completely native and heavily based on corn, which was the main agricultural product. Corn was made into flour, tamales, and tortillas, which were enjoyed with vegetables, sweet potatoes, beans, meat, squash, and spices including chili peppers.
After the Spanish conquistadors had settled in the area, the Mexican cuisine had been heavily influenced with livestock such as cows, sheep, and pigs, with dairy products, wheat, new spices and herbs and garlic. Olives, wine, barley, rice, beef, and exotic fruits gained a place in the Mexican diet.
Many Spanish stapes, such as wheat, vines, pigs and olives, did not flourish especially well in the Mexican climate though, apart from in the very north and very south. The Spanish did not alter Mexican food. Rather they added a luster to what was already there by providing new ingredients to experiment with and enhance the existing Mexican foods.
Contemporary Mexican food is diverse and tasty as the result of these earlier influences. A lot of the traditional Mexican ingredients, such as chocolate, squash, beans, corn, tomatoes, vanilla, avocado, spics, and chilies are still very popular and are found in many different Mexican dishes.
Mexican dishes vary widely from region to region and some dishes, which people think of as being Mexican, are actually unheard of in parts of Mexico. An example is the burrito, which is a stuffed wheat tortilla. Burritos are eaten in the north of Mexico but are not known in the south where corn tortillas rule and wheat is not used much.
Mexican Food Introduced to the World
The biggest Mexican influence to appear widespread in the United States was Taco Bell, which first appeared in 1962. Taco Bell offered tacos which were fried tortillas, bent into a rigid and uniform shape, stuffed carelessly with crumbled beef, grated cheese, a mild or hot red sauce and shredded lettuce. When Taco Bell appeared, it seemed to announce that these generic prefab tacos were all there was to Mexican cuisine, which left a lot of people uninterested in pursuing Mexican food any further.
Another influence appeared in 1972. This was Diana Kennedy who was passionate about Mexico and Mexican food. She awakened many people to the joys of Mexican cookery and proved that there was more to Mexican cuisine than Taco Bell had offered. Nowadays, many people are experimenting with Mexican food recipes and delighting in the results.
The interesting phases in Mexican food culture and the immense variety of Mexican recipes are responsible for the popularity of Mexican cuisine all over the world.
Perhaps the best cooking pot is time because, although Mexican food has been enriched by Spanish, French, Caribbean, African, Oriental and Indian influences amongst others, it is the native Mexican ingredients which shine out in every authentic Mexican recipe to give Mexican food its own special and unique quality.
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