Sunny, Sunny Mexico
Historically, it is long-believed that Mexican food originated as early as 7000 BCE, before the Spanish colonized the nation in 1521. Indigenous people survived as capable hunter-gatherers, and by creating corn tortillas and bean paste for protein, as meat was scarce in the area. Since the Spanish invasion, many cultures have influenced Mexico’s cuisine, including the French when they intervened with Spain in the 1900s.
Unique Flavors And Methods
As one of the most bio-diverse countries in the world, Mexico has benefitted from a strong history of agricultural production. Rice, beans, corn, tomatoes, cacao, avocado, and (most importantly) chili peppers have been staples in Mexican diets since the dawn of time. When the Spanish invaded, they introduced their own ingredients to the indigenous people, including meat from livestock, dairy, olive oil and herbs including coriander, cinnamon, and the beloved garlic. As Mexican’s began to adopt the use of meat and dairy in their everyday diets, most meals were served with meat and cheese. A good source of protein with a unique flavor, insects such as grasshoppers, crickets, larvae, and stink bug eggs have been enjoyed enthusiastically in this region since before the Spanish conquests. Even the fauna, like the cactus (nopales) is a delicacy in Mexico, popular for the tart, citrus-forward palate.
Before civilization invented ovens, people had to be crafty to cook their meals. Ceramic bowls or cast iron skillets were (and still are) used to heat food over an open fire, cooking the food quicker and more evenly than slow-roasting. Meat can also be steamed, wrapped in banana leaves or cactus wraps and placed over boiling water to make breads and other foods softer and moister. Frying is popular, as well, as evident in tortilla chips, churros, and taco shells.
Speaking of taco shells, it’s no secret that the taco is one of the most popular dishes in Mexico, and it’s popularity has spread even into other countries. But what would a taco be without the most iconic accompaniment– salsa? Created by the Mayan and Aztec people, this blend of diced tomatoes, chili peppers, and other vegetables and spices has surpassed even ketchup as the most popular condiment in America. Salsa acts as the perfect side to everyone’s favorite appetizer. Around the year 1950, a waiter named Ignacio Anaya (nicknamed “Nacho” by his friends) served adventurous guests a plate of tortilla chips, melted cheese, and jalapeños, thus creating the nachos. Mexican food has become so popular in the US, there is even a variation on Mexican cuisine known as “Tex Mex”. This fusion of two cultures has led to the invention of queso, fajita bowls, and more.