|A Taste of Mexico: What Is Authentic Mexican Cuisine?
Stephanie Cardenas - ABC ActionNews
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September 21, 2022
This Chef Keeps the Flavors of Ancient Mexico Alive (Great Big Story)
Mexican food is one of the top three ethnic cuisines in the U.S., along with Chinese and Italian food. Mexico is also one of the few nations to have its cuisine recognized by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage.
The size of the nation, as well as the history of its colonial and immigrant past, are some of the reasons why and how Mexico's cuisine came to be so distinctive.
Mexico has a long history that can be traced back to ancient indigenous peoples like the Mayans, who domesticated corn to create "maize," which had a profound impact on Mexican cuisine.
The tortilla, a staple of the Mexican diet, was created by the Mayans using the nixtamalization method, which involves heating corn in limewater before grinding and drying it to generate masa flour.
Mexico was exposed to a wide range of new foods as a result of the Spanish colonization, reflecting a wide range of influences from throughout the world.
The Spanish brought slaves with them, who introduced elements of African cuisine to Mexico.
Sesame seeds for pipianes, rice, plantains, coffee, tamarind, Jamaica for Aguas Frescas, and coffee. Even ingredients, such as yams and watermelons, came from Africa.
The domestication of animals, which the Spanish introduced, led to a large increase in the consumption of protein in the form of cheese and meat and when multiple waves of immigrants started to arrive in Mexico in the 19th century, the Lebanese who invented shawarma made the famous tacos al pastor a new element in Mexico’s cuisine.
More recently, the United States, Mexico's 2,000-mile border neighbor to the north, has started to have an impact on Mexican street cuisine as well.
American stereotypes have impacted what "authentic" Mexican food looks like when talking about the cultural influences on Mexican cuisine.
Few people in Mexico eat burritos built with wheat tortillas and taco shells that frequently pass for Mexican cuisine in the United States, much as chop suey and pepperoni pizza are not typical Chinese and Italian dishes. Mexican cuisine differs significantly from cuisine produced in the United States.
Although the huge burritos and hard-shell tacos with meat are wonderful, they are not traditional Mexican food and are instead a fusion of food between Texas and Mexico called ‘Tex-Mex.’
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