Mexican cuisine has so many layers of diversity in its flavours, colours and textures.
The variations in climate across Mexico have an influence, due to their effect on locally available ingredients. Add to this the impact of Spanish culinary preferences and you get one delicious, interesting and sometimes surprising cuisine.
Mexican cuisine has so many variations you’re highly likely to find something unique, interesting and delicious. Try something new on your Mexican holiday, you never know – it might become your all-time favourite.
Climatic influences on Mexican cuisine
Mexico is one of the most bio-diverse countries in the world, which helps provide an abundance of ingredients to cook with.
There are more than 200 types of chillies for example – some of which are naturally sweet. There are also varieties of sweetcorn in a range of colours, including red, white, blue and black. Additionally, wild herbs and exotic fruits, that you may never have heard of, grow here in a rainbow of hues.
This explains why there are hundreds of types of Mole dip in Mexico, not just the mainly avocado Guacamole that many of us are familiar with. In one popular version – Mole negro – chocolate, almonds, chillies, plantains and cloves are just a few of its many ingredients. Imagine how complex a flavour that is.
The level of hot spice and chillies in dishes also varies depending on the region. South-eastern areas such as Yucatan prefer quite mild tastes with more of a quiet suggestion of spicy ingredients.
The east and west coasts offer variations of dishes too. Caribbean east coast areas such as Cancun, Playacar and Riviera Maya will feature local fish such as red snapper, which is not available on the Pacific west coast.
The overall effect of climate and bio-diversity has a huge influence in creating the diversity of Mexican cuisine. This means that for every area of Mexico you visit, there will be a whole new combination of tastes and flavours to explore.
The influence of Spanish cuisine
The Spanish discovery of Mexico brought with it new ingredients and a different approach to cooking and dining. This was gradually absorbed into existing recipes and added yet more diversity to help create the variety of dishes we see today.
The introduction of chickens, cattle, pigs and sugar were the biggest changes.
Before that time there was no cooking oil, no beef, no pork, no milk and no cheese. Frying foods, combining oil with dry ingredients and adding sugary sweetness to recipes, added a further layer of flavour combinations to an already interesting mix.
Chocolate had been used in Mexican cooking for centuries, but was regarded as sacred and only eaten on special occasions. The Spanish loved this new-found sweet food and so did everyone else. Chocolate and sugar are now used frequently in both sweet and savoury dishes, with chocolate being a common ingredient in meat stews and savoury Moles.
The diversity of Tequila
Tequila is named after the city of Tequila, a traditional centre of the liquor’s production.
It has a different flavour depending on where the blue agave plant that it’s made from is grown. Agaves grown high in the mountains, for example, produce a different flavour to those grown at lower altitudes. Tequila also tastes different depending on how long it’s been aged for, just like whisky.
There are so many different tastes to be explored, the saying goes that if you don’t like Tequila, it’s simply because you haven’t yet found the right one.