Mexicans begin their day with a plentiful breakfast, continue with a late lunch (comida) and then conclude with dinner (over sena).
Before the Spanish conquistadors arrived in Mexico, the Aztecs and Mayans enjoyed fresh fish, tropical fruit, corn, chocolate, chilli and tomato sauces.
Estados Unidos Mexicanos or Mexico is located in North America, and the capital city is Mexico City. In the north, it borders with the United States of America, and in the south, it borders with Guatemala and Belize. The ground varies from rocky deserts in the north to tropic rainforests in the south, and the climate ranges from continental to subtropical.
With the discovery of America in 1492, Mexico and other newly discovered countries opened new culinary horizons to the world presenting them with vanilla, avocado, corn, tomato, chocolate… Mexico fell under Spanish rule in 1519, three centuries before its final independence in 1810. Most of today’s Mexican cuisine is based on a mix between indigenous traditions (Aztecs, Mayans…) with culinary trends brought over by Spanish colonialists.
Characteristics of the cuisine
Before the conquistadors arrived in Mexico, the Aztecs and Mayans enjoyed fresh fish, tropical fruit, corn, chocolate, chilli and red and green tomato sauces. The food was prepared on a barbeque or under a baking lid. In ancient Mexico, papayas, pineapples, olives, avocados, peanuts, beans, peppers, Tabasco, vanilla, honey, fish and wild game were sold. With the arrival of the Spaniards in Mexico, new ingredients arrived, including animal species, and Mediterranean and Oriental spices.
Most of today’s Mexican cuisine is based on a mix between indigenous traditions and culinary trends which were brought over by Spanish colonialists.
Mexican cuisine today differs by region, due to a diverse climate, geographic position and ethnic differences. One thing is common everywhere though. Mexicans begin their day with a plentiful breakfast, continue with a late lunch (comida) and conclude with dinner (la sena).
High quality ingredients are part of every successful cuisine, as is the case with Mexican. Key ingredients of Mexican cuisine are:
- chilli, originally from Mexico. There are about 100 different types of chilli peppers in Mexico alone. The hottest and most aromatic peppers are: jalapeño, habanero, guajillo, poblano, serrano, ancho, cascabel, chipotle...
- flor de calabaza, a secret ingredient which is used in everything from soups to sauces
- heutlacoche, small, dark, very creamy and tasty mushrooms.
Mexico, for food lovers, is one of the most interesting parts of the world.
Mexican cuisine is well known for its intense and diverse tastes, colourful decorations and rich spices. Focusing on the offer of modern restaurants, one would think that it is made up exclusively of tacos, quesadilla, enchiladaand carnitas, but there are many other star dishes.
For example, the century old mole poblano is a dark and thick sauce made of dried chilli, peanuts, edible seeds, spices, cocoa, and other ingredients; chimichanga (burritodeep fried in oil); salsa (sauce made of tomatoes, onions and chilli); tostadas (corn tortilla chips); guacamole (avocado sauce); tortillas (corn/wheat wraps); burrito (white tortilla with meat, beans and cheese); atole (thick hot corn mash); chorizo (spicy pork sausages with garlic and red chilli); fajita (grilled steak or chicken in a tortilla); empanada (stuffed fruit dough).
Mexican drinks are also well known, such as the mescal and the popular tequila, which is made from the agave plant. There are many different types of beer, and wine lovers will not be left thirsty. In Mexico, one should try the margarita, especially the Tamarindo y mango, Flor de Jamaica or Grand Marnier with lemon. There are good liquors made of coffee, corn and palms, punches and fermented fruit drinks. Agave juice, fresh fruit juice, cacao and coffee are good choices for non-alcohol beverages.
- The perfect travel time to Mexico is from mid September to mid May.
- Average daytime temperatures range from 23 to 32°C, and night temperatures from 15 to 27°C.
- If you travel to Mexico City, bring a pullover because, due to the altitude, the temperature in the morning is around 0°C, while the daytime temperature increase to over 22°C.
- Mexico is a great place to shop – you can buy silver, jewellery, antiques, and art.
- Do not drink water from the faucet; only drink bottled water which is cheap in Mexico.
- The Mexican currency is the peso ($100 pesos ≈ US $10)
- It is wiser to carry credit cards than a large amount of cash.
- Avoid food which is left standing for a long time, as well as food which has not been heat treated.
- When you visit larger cities, avoid wearing expensive jewellery and expensive clothing.
- The official language is Spanish, even though English is spoken in almost all tourist areas.
- If you want to tip the bus driver, return the bus ticket to him.
- When hungry, select restaurant bars which have a smorgasbord and for 65 pesos (around $7 US), you can eat as much as you want.
- You will require an adaptor in Mexico because the electricity is 110 V.