In 2010 traditional Mexican food was declared Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. Due to its variety, tradition and unique techniques, Mexican cuisine is very complex and delicious. At the same time, there are tons of myths to be busted about Mexican food.
Who better than us, Italians, know how hard can be explaining that we never mix chicken with pasta? That Fettuccine Alfredo is not part of our diet? That Italian seasoning doesn’t exist at all in Italy? Well, dear Mexican people, we are sympathetic to that 🇮🇹 🇲🇽
And you, reader, probably you’ve never eaten real Mexican food in your entire life.
We collected a few myths and legends about Mexican food. And this list is probably not enough since this cuisine has been reinterpreted a lot all over the world.
MYTHS AND LEGENDS ABOUT MEXICAN FOOD
HARD SHELL TACO 🌮
Thinking about Mexican food, the first thing that comes to your mind is the taco. That crunchy corn shell, filled with sour cream, cheddar cheese, lettuce, guacamole and a sprinkle of fresh onion. Well…totally WRONG. In Mexico is almost impossible to find a self-respecting taco stand that would allow all these ingredients together. Even more importantly the corn tortilla is soft. And often double layered.
Taco is an institution in Mexico, way more than just a dish, it’s a solid part of the culture.
WHEAT FLOUR TORTILLAS
Flour tortillas are more typical in Argentina, while in Mexico almost all of them are made with corn. There are just a few exceptions, like Gringas for examples, but these are just exceptions.
It is easy to find tortilla made with a different variety of corn and the result is a colored tortilla. The corn can be white, blue, red or the most common yellow. Doesn’t matter the color, tortillas are the main ingredient of Mexican food. It is also important to say that nowadays wheat flour tortillas are becoming more popular especially in the Northern regions of Mexico. If you have to choose, go with corn, not only because is more traditional but also because is more tasty and healthy at the same time.
Pretty sure the burrito you have in your mind it’s not traditional Mexican food. In the United States, burrito fillings may include a large combination of ingredients such as rice, beans, lettuce, salsa, meat, guacamole, cheese, sour cream, and various other vegetables. While in Mexico meat and fried beans are frequently the only fillings. Obviously also the size is very different, Mexican burritos are a lot smaller. Although burritos are very popular among Mexican cuisine outside of Mexico, they are only popular in the northern part of the country. In almost two months of Mexico, we never saw a burrito, and we definitely tried a lot of Mexican food.
This snack was originated in Mexico, exactly in the city of Piedras Negras, Coahuila. The story of its origin is pretty interesting, Nachos its born from the few ingredients available in Ignacio Anaya’s kitchen: tortillas, cheese, and jalapeños. Ignacio “nacho” cut the tortillas into triangles, fried them, added shredded cheddar cheese, quickly heated them, added sliced pickled jalapeño peppers, and served them.
Despite its Mexican origins, Nachos are more popular among Tex Mex cuisine, they are hard to find in the central and south regions of Mexico. Anyway triangular pieces of crunchy tortillas are easy to find, but they’re called Totopos!
WHAT TO ORDER WHEN IN MEXICO
It is very hard to write a list of traditional Mexican dishes and mention them all. This cuisine is very complex and varied. But if you want to eat real Mexican food you have at least to try one of this.
Mole, Pozole, Elote, Esquite, Chiles en nogada (only in September), Chicharron, Tacos al Pastor (plural is because the minimum order is 5, never ask for just one or two), Gringa, Tamal, Cochinita Pibil… This is just to mention some of them, the list can go on and on.
Check them all and… Provecho!
Ps. speaking about hot sauce, watch out… even the not spicy one is hot. And it’s not a matter of color: if the red sauce is usually bearable, the green one is fire 🔥