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Real Mexican Food - It May Be Different From What You Expect

Nov 15, 2007
Everyone in the US has spent many enjoyable meals in the local Mexican restaurants in their town or city, but if you live in Mexico or make an extended visit, you'll find some delightfully tasty dishes you never experienced back home.

As you would expect, the national cuisine is flavorful, colorful, and contains lots of spices. If you're adventurous and willing to take part in the local culture, you'll find many dishes that never make their way into Mexican restaurants up north, and you'll enjoy experimenting with new tastes and ingredients.

Many of the items you'll find in grocery stores and in restaurants are an ingenious combination of the original Aztec and Maya ingredients of corn, chilies, squash and beans, usually with a Spanish twist. Many of the foods we now consider staples in our own households in the US, Canada and Europe were originally found in the land that became Mexico and Central America.

You'll notice many differences in the way food is prepared - sometimes an item that you think you know will be different in Mexico. For instance, quesadillas, a flour or corn tortilla filled with cheese, may have cheddar or jack cheese when found in a US restaurant, but in Mexico it is likely to be filled with a soft farmer's cheese like Queso Fresco. You can find this cheese in some larger US groceries if you'd like to see what it's like. Add some shredded pork or chicken and a chili sauce, for a special treat.

If you find yourself in the Mexican interior, or if you are just more adventurous than most tourists, you might find dishes made the way the original people of the area cooked, before the Spanish conquest. If you look hard, you might be able to taste such unusual ingredients as rattlesnake, monkey, lizard and even some kinds of insects. These dishes are unlikely to be found in the more popular tourist hot-spots like Cancun or Puerto Vallarta, and are not for the faint of heart.

Just like in the United States, the food changes from one area to the next. The culture of Mexico is diverse and interesting, and the food reflects the differences in climate, culture and tastes.

One item you'll find served in many Mexican restaurants and homes is the traditional enchilada. This dish is made from a corn tortilla (often hand-made on the spot) that has been briefly softened in hot oil and then dipped in enchilada sauce. The tortillas are then filled with a variety of ingredients, such as chicken, vegetables, pork or beef, and even eggs or bananas. In some areas a filling made of potatoes and cheese is popular.

After being rolled up they are placed together in a dish, and more sauce is spooned on top, along with other ingredients like cheese, onions and olives. The sauce is almost always spicy, and will contain the traditional chili peppers and other seasonings. Mole sauce, made with chili peppers, ground nuts or seeds, and unsweetened chocolate is also common and worth trying.

Another very simple dish you may find in your travels is the "sope", a traditional dish originating in the city of Guadalajara, Jalisco. It is considered a snack or "street food" in Mexico.

Sopes are made by placing refried beans and crumbled cheese, onions, red or green salsa and sour cream on top of fried masa. Masa is the specially prepared ground corn that is also used to make the thinner tortillas that most of us are familiar with.

Another item you'll find in some areas of Mexico, but which is rarely on a US menu, is chilorio, a pork dish popular in the Mexican State of Sinaloa. This dish can be prepared in a number of different ways, but most recipes include tender pork that is fried in a chili sauce. To make the pork tender it is slowly simmered for hours. It is then broken into small pieces and fried in lard, and then cooked again in chili sauce. The ingredients in the sauce usually include onions, cumin and garlic.

If you have a chance to live in Mexico or visit for an extended time, be sure to sample the varied and delicious traditional dishes. Visit the markets and experience the incredible variety of vegetables, spices and meats that make up the traditional Mexican cuisine. You'll discover that this nation has far more to offer in the way of variety and tastes than you'll ever find in a Mexican restaurant back home in the States.
About the Author
Thinking about buying a house in Mexico for a second home or retirement? Find local real estate experts to help you find the perfect Mexican home, and to help you make your purchase safely and legally. Visit http://www.find-real-estate-in-mexico.com
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