By Jon Griffin

Pescado a la Veracruzana
Pescado a la Veracruzana

Mexican food is popular everywhere you go, and for good reason. There is an almost infinite combination of Mexican dishes and ingredients. You probably have never had many of the food combinations before unless you live in an area that has a big Mexican influence. I consider Mexican cuisine similar to the traditions of the cuisine of India, a deep appreciation and knowledge of using all types of spice to create both popular and family style Mexican foods. Mexican food thrills your taste buds, the aromas excite your mind, and the appearance pleases your eyes, enriching and inspiring your soul.

Bugs, Iguanas, And Snakes

Most modern Mexican foods are based on long ago recipes from both the Aztecs and Mayas ancient culinary traditions. Historically there were many exotic dishes that aren’t eaten by many in this day and age, but some purists are reviving these historic recipes. These alien recipes included iguana, spider monkeys, and rattlesnakes.

Once the Spanish colonists arrived in Mexico the food evolved again. The chili pepper is one ingredient that has not changed in importance over time, and some Mexicans say that the earth tastes like chili in Mexico. There are other influences you may encounter depending where you are in Mexico. In the Mexican states of Veracruz and the Yucatan, a Caribbean influence is evident. You can also find French influence in Central Mexico, (Cinco de Mayo anyone). The bread roll know as bolillos or teleras has definite French influence, albeit with a Mexican twist.

Iguana (wikimedia)

Mexican Food Is Healthy Food

Mexican food can have many health benefits. Once you start making regional specialties you will be eating foods that are rich in both vitamins and minerals, with low calories and fat. Just remember, Taco Bell is not authentic Mexican food, and neither is your average Mexican chain restaurant. Most of these “Mexican” restaurants are heavily influenced by our high fat American tastes, and don’t contain all the nutrients you would eat if you ate in Mexico. Most Mexican recipes contain fresh ingredients bought that day at the store. Tomatoes, peppers, onions and other vegetables are very healthy for your body and play a prominent role in Mexican cuisine.

Mexico Has Many Regions

Different regions of Mexico have completely different recipes and menus. These differences vary based on the climate and geography of the region, as well as ethnic differences, notably the indigenous populations . Northern Mexico, being cattle country, is known for dishes that contain lots of meat, while the dishes of Southern Mexico feature vegetables and chicken. Seafood, while served in much of Mexico, is commonly served in the Mexican state of Veracruz. Veracruz is a unique Mexican state since it is very long and tropical with lowlands that run up and down the Gulf of Mexico. It is extremely easy to get fish such as red snapper, snook, grouper, and mojarra (a perch-like fish). Mojarra is extremely prized in the Veracruz area. Crab, lobsters, and oysters are are also very prevalent.

Veracruz isn’t just an ocean state, it has more than 40 rivers running through it. This endless supply of water creates a haven for freshwater fish and shellfish. The fish is prepared in a way that reflects the uniqueness of Veracruz state. Seafood and fish is very healthy and preparing them in a Mexican style can liven up your normal recipes.

There is much history and many interesting facts about Mexican food if you are ambitious, and you could spend a lifetime studying just one region in depth. If you want to get a good idea of the differences in Mexican cuisine, simply try new recipes from different regions. With the rich cultural history of Mexico, it is nice to learn not only the techniques of cooking, but also the history of the foods and recipes. Once have gained the knowledge of the dishes it is even more enjoyable to cook and eat.

¡Buen provecho!