That feeling you get when you're sitting in a faraway land on a bench at a food stall, watching the locals and enjoying the smells and tastes of the previously unknown through your nose and tongue... relishing in all the spices, herbs and mixtures that won't taste as good anywhere else in the world! Some countries are worse off with their culinary arts and some are amazing. One of these countries is definitely Central American Mexico, whose cuisine has even been listed as a UNESCO Intangible World Heritage Site.
When the first white settlers arrived in the Americas, they discovered that the local population made extensive use of foods that were unknown to us in Europe back then. Beans, tomatoes, avocados. The staple ingredient of Mexican cuisine was corn, which adds sweetness to food and, in its processed form, can be found as a side dish with every meal. Another common ingredient is chilli, which adds spiciness to a dish.
Eventually wheat, rice, beef and pork were imported from Europe. This mix of raw materials and ingredients eventually gave rise to one of the world's most delicious cuisines in the 16th century, which continues to boldly spread its fame to this day.
The basis of all meals is the abundant use of vegetables, wheat or corn tortillas, meat, cheese, beans, all served with rice as a side dish. Another integral part are the dips, or hot sauces, salsas or quacamole. If you like spices, choose chilli, coriander and oregano.
You can almost always order a set of several sauces, more or less spicy, as a starter. These are called salsas, tomato or cheese sauce for dipping tortillas. A real treat is the guacamole, which is made with avocado, onions, coriander, tomatoes and lime juice.
If you go to a restaurant outside of Mexico that focuses on Mexican cuisine, there will usually be a mix of different dishes popular with tourists. In the United Mexican States itself, however, every state or region has its own specific food, made from local products.
Perhaps the most famous Mexican dish is the so-called tacos. Tortillas are filled with a mixture of meat, hot salsa, onion and lime. Tacos belong to the region north of Mexico City, the so-called Southern California region, now the state of Baja California.
Another well-known dish from Mexican cuisine is burritos. Rolled tortillas are filled with a mixture of beans, minced meat, cheese and peppers. All this can be baked. When you eat this dish, know that you are eating a specialty from the state of Chihuahua.
In the capital area of Ciudad de Mexico, the specialty is the quesadilla, a tortilla filled with cheese, salami, jalapeños and a mixture of spices. Personally, I can never pass up fajitas. A mixture of sautéed, sliced, onions, peppers and meat. All seasoned with a special blend of spices. It is served wrapped in a wheat tortilla with a dollop of sour cream.
All these dishes are somehow subconsciously familiar to us, but what do you get when you order meat in mole sauce? It'll probably happen in the state of Oaxaca, and you'll get a dish dipped in a sauce created from a mixture of spices and dark chocolate. If you have a taste for this dish, look for mole poblano on the menu.
This motto is also known in Mexico. This is how the local cerveza (beer) is drunk everywhere, often straight from the bottle into which a wedge of lime has been squeezed. All washed down with tequila, of course, but even better with mezcal. Both alcoholic drinks are made from the agave plant, but each with a different technological process.
Perhaps all of us who have been to Mexico remember the great cuisine there. Perhaps everyone could add here wherever they had something delicious. Whether at a stand on the street talking to the locals or in one of the many pubs or restaurants. But you can also have Mexico at home and reminisce a bit about your travels, or just prepare for a Mexican trip.
Cut the tomatoes and onion into small pieces. Mash the avocado with the other ingredients. Mix everything together. Serve with tortillas.