History of Mexican Food

If you have any interest at all in cuisine that has roots and influences all over the world but retains its own unique sensibility when it comes to unique flavor, then you owe it to yourself to get acquainted with Mexican food! Despite many misconceptions that Mexican cuisine is too spicy and monotonous, nothing could be further from the truth. The history of Mexican cuisine has brought those lucky enough to partake in it a wildly flavorful taste experience.

The history of Mexican food brings together the influence of the Spanish conquistadors as well as the local staples of Mayan Indians of the Yucatan Peninsula. Prior to the arrival of the Spanish, the primary foods of the area that would come to be known as Mexico were fish, beans, corn, tropical fruit and a variety of wild meats, like rabbit and turkey. One of the staples of the people of the Yucatan was corn tortillas topped with bean paste, which is still a commonly eaten food today. In the north, you’ll find corn tortillas replaced with wheat, reflecting that area’s heavy Spanish settlement.

During the fourteenth century, during the heyday of the Aztec empire, food became even more varied with things like cacao (where we presently get chocolate) vanilla, honey and chile peppers entering the local cuisine. It was from this influx of ingredients from South America that gives Mexican food its reputation for spiciness and sweetness that it still retains to this day.

The Spanish arrived in Mexico in the early 1520s, and with them, they brought new livestock, like sheep and cows, but also the process of cheese making. On top of that, they also added garlic and the now-ubiquitous coriander to Mexican cuisine. The Spanish were a far-traveling people and along with their own native ingredients, they also brought along ingredients and recipes from the France and Portugal. With the advent of the Spanish, Mexican cuisine become a good deal richer.

Today, Mexican cuisine is most often influenced by region. In the north, where the wheat imported by the Spanish took the best, you’ll find more wheat dishes as well strongly spiced beef and pork. To the south, you will find many flavorful recipes that are entirely vegetarian or cooked with roasted chicken. On the coast, of course, you’ll find some of the finest seafood in the world.

The history of Mexican food encompasses three continents and Mexican cuisine in general has benefited from this. With such a wide and varied background, it is easy to see why Mexican cuisine is considered the most varied and unique in the world!

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