The 16th of September is celebrated by Mexicans everywhere as Independence Day, when this proud culture became its own nation separate from Spain. This independence has been an important role in shaping modern Mexican Culture.
Despite strong indigenous cultures, Mexican artists took the lead from movements in Europe until the early 1900s. While still accepting Spanish influences, Mexican artists now draw more heavily from their own country's rich cultural heritage and ancient cultures.
Mexican cooks, however, have always created meals inspired closer to home. Maybe it's because traditional ingredients are easier to find. Or maybe Mexicans have always known a good thing when they taste it. Whatever the case, reliance on local inspiration has resulted in each region of Mexico having its own unique taste.
Central Mexico is a mix of Spanish and Aztec cuisine such as the intricate mole poblano. Southern Mexico is well-known for dried chile peppers and the stews and sauces that use them. The Pacific Coast, of course, features fresh seafood, prepared with herbs and tomatoes.
Even with all this variety, the Mexican Cuisine that is famous around the world has a more generalized taste, featuring tacos, enchiladas, quesadillas and guacamole.
To expand your experience with Mexican food, try our fantastic recipes from many different regions of this diverse country.
Points of Interest
Before the Spanish arrived, meat was scarce. Beans and corn flavored with chiles were nutritional mainstays throughout the country, and are still a vital part of Mexico's diet. Dried corn is ground and mixed with liquids or fats to make tortillas and masa. Fresh corn is often combined with other vegetables in tasty dishes, such as Calabacitas y Elotes a la Crema (zucchini and corn in cream).
There are over 100 varieties of chiles in Mexico, ranging from mild to searingly hot, each with its own unique characteristics. The same chiles often have different names depending upon its region of origin and form. For example, smoked, dried jalapeños are called chipotle chiles. Fresh chiles are often roasted to produce unique flavors and serve as the sauce base for a variety of dishes, such as Pechugas en Salsa Poblana, chicken breasts in a poblano sauce.
Mexican cuisine is a fusion of the indigenous Mayan and Aztec cultures with Spanish, French, and Arab influences. It's a rich mosaic of native foods: avocados, chilies, corn, squash, turkey, seafood, beans, tomatoes, vanilla, and chocolate blended with foreign imports of beef, lamb, pork, cheese, wheat, rice, cilantro, and sugar.
Frothy hot chocolate (Champurrado), cinnamon-scented coffee (Cafe de Olla), porridge-like Atole and the refreshing rice and almond Horchata are just a few traditional Mexican beverages. When it comes to cocktails, margaritas are the popular choice. This tequila-based drink has a host of variations, including our uniquely delightful Creamy Margaritas Carnation. Mexican desserts run the gamut from puddings, like Maicilla de Mango, and to cakes, like Pastel Tres Leches.
Regional dishes vary greatly due to what grows well in each region. For example, flour tortillas are used in the north where the Spanish planted wheat, while corn tortillas prevail in the south. And along Mexico's 5,000 miles of coastline, fish- and seafood-anchored dishes are delicious and plentiful.