Mexican food is one of the world’s best and owing to the minimal immigration which this country has seen over the years, it has managed to retain its heritage and its culture around gastronomy. We see in many nations that their traditional meals have been replaced with fusions and modern twists thanks to the influence of others, this has happened slightly in Mexico but the cuisine on offer here is generally the same that they have been enjoying for centuries.
What I love most about gastronomy in Mexico is that each state offers something a little different, in the main Mexican food and dishes are the same throughout the country, but depending on where you are visiting will depend on what additional specialties there are. As long as you book in advance you can get flights to Mexico at a very low price from both the US and Canada, and when you get there here are the foods which you have to try.
Tacos are a staple of Mexican cuisine and in truth we could easily write an entire article about the types of tacos which you can buy throughout the country. Tacos in Mexico consist of a soft, corn tortilla, usually quite small in size, which is then loaded up with cilantro, onions, some spicy salsa, lime juice and then meat, although several vegan versions can be found made from things like seitan and tofu. The meats which the tacos are filled with could be
anything from pork to beef, lamb to mutton. Whilst the filling may change, the condiments rarely do.
Most countries have their own heart-warming stew and in Mexico that dish is called pozole. This is a dish which can be found throughout the country and it is a pork broth which is then filled with maize kernels and usually topped with shredded lettuce, radish, spicy sauce and plenty of lime juice. This is a filling meal which tastes absolutely delicious.
Contrary to popular belief the word quesadilla doesn’t come from the Spanish word queso which means cheese. The word comes from the ancient language Nahuatl and it simply means filling in a tortilla. Quesadillas in Mexico are simple, hand-made tortillas which are fried in hot oil and filled up with anything from cheese to shredded chicken. These are super cheap and a great snack for convenience which you can find on most street corners throughout the country.
Chilaquiles is a simple dish which is made with corn chips that are bathed in a slightly spicy green tomato sauce, which are then topped with sour cream and shredded white cheese. Optional extras include shredded chicken or beef, with or without a fried egg on top. This is a dish which is usually enjoyed as breakfast and has been known to help with a hangover, if you’ve overdone the mezcal the night before.
Technically speaking barbacoa should be under the taco section but it can also be considered as a standalone meal. In most states you’ll find this on offer on a weekend, but in its home state of Hidalgo you’ll find it sold all week long. Traditionally this is a dish which is made by slow cooking mutton in a fire pit until the meat is soft and tender. You can ask for different cuts of the mutton and enjoy it in a soft tortilla along with some soup which is made from the stock which the mutton has produced.
Gorditas are small, disc like snacks which are made using chicharron (fried pork rind). The gordita is hand-made using some corn dough, which is then mixed with the chicharron to form the thick Gordita. During cooking the Gordita is split through the middle and filled up with black beans and cheese, or in some states they fill it up with meat too. This is a very common snack which you’ll find from many street vendors.
Chiles en Nogada
This dish hails from the state of Puebla but you can find it throughout the country, as long as the chiles are in season. The dish consists of poblano chili (poblano means ‘from Puebla’) which are stuffed with a mixture made up of spices, fruits and shredded meat called picadillo. These chiles are then drenched in a creamy walnut sauce and then topped with pomegranate seeds. In most countries you can find dishes which are similar to those which you have enjoyed elsewhere but with this dish you’ll be hard pressed to find anything that comes close. The mixture of meat and cream combined with the sweetness of the fruits and the spice of the chili makes this a truly unique dish which the Mexicans love.
If you do manage to spend some time in Mexico then these are the dishes which you have to try during your time there, widely available and absolutely beautiful.