If you live outside of Mexico or the Southwest United States, you may be wondering “what exactly is authentic Mexican cuisine.”
Historically, Mexican food is a combination of indigenous native foods combined with those of the Spanish conquistadors. When the Spanish arrived in Mexico, they found the diet of the natives consisted of dishes made mainly of corn, chiles, and herbs and served with beans and tomatoes. The Spanish added meat and rice and other seasonings. They took it a step further by using the fruits and vegetables that were native to the country. These food combinations became the basis of what is now Mexican cuisine.
The dishes in Mexican cuisine vary by region. The food depends on the climate and geography of the area as well as ethnic differences. Meat dishes are popular in Northern Mexico while vegetables and chicken are the most common ingredients in Southern Mexico dishes. Along the Gulf of Mexico in Veracruz, there is a Caribbean influence and the food is spicier. Each area does have dishes that can be claimed as authentic by that region. There are also a number of dishes and drinks that are common to the country as a whole.
Contrary to public belief, the true cuisine of Mexico is not unhealthy nor is the food heavy. Authentic Mexican dishes are rich in vitamins and minerals. Fresh ingredients such as tomatoes, peppers, and onions are important to an authentic Mexican dish. In fact, the Americanized versions added more fat to the dishes.
There are some restaurants in the United States which serve authentic Mexican food, particularly in California, New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, and Florida where there is a concentration of Mexican Americans. The restaurants of the Southwest are more true to the Mexican cuisine than those found in other parts of the U. S. Most restaurants have Americanized the dishes to suit the palette of their customers. When you dine in a Mexican restaurant, you expect to see your dishes covered with cheese and sour cream.
In the different regions of the United States, you will that Mexican food is prepared differently. There is a Tex-Mex cuisine and a New Mexico Cuisine. The cuisine of Southwestern Arizona is similar to that of New Mexico. Although the food does not taste exactly the same, the dishes of New Mexico are closer to the more authentic dishes of Mexico with Native American influences. The flavor of California’s Mexican dishes is different from those of Texas, New Mexico, and Southwestern Arizona.
Preparing authentic Mexican dishes is not difficult. But like learning Spanish, it can be intimidating at first. Once you start and you keep the ingredients you need on hand, it will become second nature.
Mexico has a rich cultural history. By studying the various regions of the country, you can learn a lot about its history. An important by-product is that you will also learn about its cuisine.