It All Started With The Tortilla:
Discovering Authentic Mexican Cuisine At Its Best
233.28 million Americans were eating Mexican food or using Mexican
ingredients in their kitchens as depicted by a statistic published by U.S.
Census data and Simmons National Consumer Survey (NHCS). Interestingly, the
trend has only grown. It is worthwhile to note that with a day dedicated to its
gastronomy and UNESCO declaring its cuisine an Intangible Cultural Heritage of
Humanity, Mexico must have a special food culture that makes it so popular.
Interestingly, the more famous Mexican dishes use one common ingredient,
tortilla - a versatile flatbread usually made from corn and sometimes from
wheat. In other words, tacos, enchiladas, nachos, chimichangas, burritos,
quesadillas - you name it, are all
famous Mexican delicacies born out of tortillas.
Eating out in Mexico is loads of fun, especially
when you are a taco fan. Tacos are sold in every street corner of the country.
However, they hardly resemble Taco Bells’ hard-shelled taco that comes with
shredded lettuce. In Mexico, tacos are soft corn tortillas with meat and
vegetable stuffing served with cilantro, onion, beans, and salsa.
Taco stands or
‘taquerias’ in Mexico prepare a steak taco by first cooking and chopping steaks
and then lightly frying corn tortillas on the same griddle as the steak to
absorb flavors. Finally, they serve the warm tacos filled with onion, cilantro
and chopped steak and a spicy salsa drizzle on top.
Burritos or burritas, as they are often called in some parts of Mexico are
popular roadside foods hailing from Ciudad Juárez, a northern Mexican city.
Authentic burritos are small and thin flour tortillas containing a simple
filling of only one or two ingredients like meat, fish, rice, asadero cheese,
beans, chile rajas or chile relleno, beans or potato and come in several
variations. A typical beef burrito is made by cooking ground beef with diced
onions and seasoning it with garlic, oregano, cumin, salt, and pepper. Beans are
boiled and fried with onions and coarsely pureed. Tortillas are warmed and
topped with ground meat, beans and other toppings of choice, folded to a wrap
and served with lettuce, tomato, onion and asadero cheese.
Enchiladas are corn tortilla rolls filled with meat, vegetables, cheese, potato, seafood or beans or a combination of these ingredients. They are served
with a topping of fiery salsa, sour cream, lettuce, olives, cheese, cilantro,
and onions. First mentioned in a 1931 book called “El Cocinero Mexicano,” today
these Mexican delicacies are found in several variations like enmoladas served
with mole sauce and enchiladas poblanas filled with poblano peppers and chicken
and served with Oaxaca cheese. One recipe which is far more common is red
enchilada. For it, a red sauce is first prepared by roasting and pureeing Ancho
and Guajillo peppers along with a seasoning of garlic and oregano. Next, corn
tortillas are fried, dipped in the sauce and refried and finally, rolled with
shredded meat and vegetables before being served with cream and white cheese.
The real joy of discovering Mexican food lies in the realization that a
basic flatbread and a simple combination of fresh ingredients are potent enough
to create a rich assortment of delicacies capable enough to take the world food
scene by storm.