Read and write a 500 word paragraph giving your opinion about Mexican Food.
To read … about a country’s cuisine isn’t simply to go looking for ‘good things’; it is also to better know by means of the recipes – the customs and the richness or poverty of a place, and the spirit of those who inhabit it. It is, above all, to participate in the symbolic celebration of the shared repast. ~ Ginette Olivesi-Lorenzias
Mexican food is one of the popular cuisines of the world with the famous Mexican tacos, nachos or the enchiladas – Mexican gastronomical delights have titillated the taste buds of food-lovers all over the world. Popular Mexican dishes are now available in multi-cuisine restaurants across the globe. However the Mexican cuisine is much more than the popular spicy salsa and the refreshing guacamole. Here is an attempt to fathom the various culinary influences that have led to the emergence of a rich and colorful cuisine.
Mexican Food History: Culinary Influences on the Mexican Cuisines
Mexican cuisine has a wide variety of influences owing to the colonization in the earlier period and later owing to the trade functions between people from various countries and colonies. The Mexican cuisine is thus a resultant of several, diverse culinary influences and hence is a concoction of diverse cooking styles and ingredients in various cultures.
Mayan Influence on the Mexican cuisine: Comida Prehispánica
One of the earliest influences on the Mexican food was the culinary influence of the Mayan Indians who were traditionally nomadic hunters and gatherers. The Mayan Indians lived in the Yucatan area in Southeast Mexico. Owing to the fact that the Mayan Indians were hunters, their food basically included wildlife animals like raccoons, deer, rabbits, armadillos, rattle snakes, iguanas, spider monkeys, pigeons, turtles, frogs, turkeys and even several insects. Other accompaniments included tropical fruits, beans and corn. Although some of the influences are still retained, this kind of food in the Mexican cuisine is now known as pre-Hispanic cuisine or comida prehispánica, which is considered to be a rather exotic cuisine in Mexico.
Mexican Cuisine in the Pre- Columbian Era
Yo soy como el chile verde, picante pero sabroso …(I am like the green chile, hot but tasty)
These are the lines borrowed from a famous folk song of Mexico. These lines very accurately describe the Mexican cuisine of the Pre-Columbian period. Before the influence of Europe, Mexican diet was quite simple and was limited to the locally grown agricultural products, especially corn, chilies and beans. Corn was the most popular and most widely used ingredient in the Mexican cuisine in this pre-Columbian period. Some of the popular cooking methods for consumption of corn ere corn tortillas and tamales, which included the inclusion of corn into various, flour preparations. In addition to this these corn products were often complemented with ingredients like tomatoes and chilies. Early Mexican cuisine also included a wide variety of herbs and mushrooms as well.
Spanish Influence on the Mexican Cuisine
The Spanish invasion in 1521, there was a prominent Spanish influence on the Mexican food, be it in terms of the ingredients used or the cooking methods. When the Spanish soldiers, arrived in the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan , they found that the people’s diet consisted largely of corn-based dishes with chilies and herbs which was usually accompanied by beans and tomatoes. The soldiers eventually combined their imported diet of rice, beef, pork, chicken, wine, garlic and onions with the native foods of pre-Columbian Mexico which included tomatoes, beans, chocolate, maize, vanilla, avocado, papaya, pineapple, chili peppers, squash, sweet potato, peanut, fish and turkey. Spanish influences lead to the emergence of dishes such as lomo en adobo (pork loin in a spicy sauce), chile rellenos (large, mild-flavored chilies stuffed with cheese, beef or pork), the quesadillas or the very popular guacamole which have been a part of the traditional Mexican food ever since.
French Influence on Mexican Cuisine: La Comida Afrancescada
When the French occupied Mexico, they introduced a wide variety of baked goods in the Mexican cuisine. The Mexican sweet breads and bolillo are some of the examples of French influences on the Mexican cuisine. It is believed that the French cooking techniques and the Mexican ingredients made an excellent gastronomic combination. Native Mexican ingredients like squash blossoms, and avocados were just perfect for the French style mousses, crepes and soups. The empire of Maximilian and the presidency of Porfirio Díaz were influential in promoting the French style of cooking in the Mexican cuisine. An interesting find about the French influence on Mexican cuisine is a menu dated March 29, 1865, which is written in French. It includes a five course meal including two soups, five fish and shellfish dishes, five meat dishes and side dishes, desserts, champagne and French, Hungarian and even Rhenish wines.
Other Minor Influences on the Mexican Cuisine
In due course of time, the Mexican cuisine experienced a wide range of culinary experiences starting from the Caribbean, the South American, the West African as well as the Portuguese, which led a to the emergence of a highly diverse cooking style which also varied from region to region. The Mexican cuisine also has a minor Filipino influence owing to the Manila-Acapulco galleon trade from 1565 to 1815.
Popularity of Mexican Cuisine in America: Tex-Mex
The popularity of the Mexican cuisine has led to emergence of several variations of this cuisine in other countries. The Tex-Mex cuisine evolved on the Texas-Mexico in the Southwest America and is a modification of the traditional Mexican cuisine with an unusual American touch to it. One of the best examples of the Tex-Mex cuisine is the ‘refried beans’ which is a term that has actually been coined in Texas and is the translation of the Mexican term Frijoles refritos. The Tex-Mex cuisines is however quite different from the original Mexican cuisine although it might include the same ingredients to a certain extent. Similarly there also exists a ‘New Mexican Cuisine”, which is type of regional cuisine originating in the state of New Mexico in USA and in southern Colorado and is a subset of Mexican-American cuisine.
Mexican Cuisine Today
The Mexican cuisine is a blend of all the above-mentioned influences, however there still exists diversity in the cuisine according to the regional differences in Mexico. Mexican food varies by region, and is influences by the local climate, geography and ethnic differences among the inhabitants. The northern Mexico is famous for its beef production and meat dishes, whereas southeastern Mexico, is known for its spicy vegetable and chicken-based preparations. On the other hand, seafood is commonly prepared in the states of Mexico, which border the Pacific Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico.