Mexican cuisine… When you think about it, what’s the first thing that comes o your mind? Quesadillas, nachos, chili con carne or burritos? Some of these are right, some have more to do with tex-mex cooking from United States than with real Mexican cuisine that you can try in little places on Yucatan and in picturesque mountains in Chiapas state.
So, what will you find in Mexico and what will you not?
You will surely find a lot of nachos! You will eat more than you can imagine! That’s because nachos serve the purpose of bread in Mexico. In Europe we eat some bread and butter before lunch. Italians dip it in olive oil and thick aceto balsamico. The Mexicans eat nachos that usually arrive on the table while you wait for your food. They taste different than the ones you buy in packets before a party or a football match, different than those you buy at the cinema. They have different shapes, are crispy and tasty and usually homemade – fried from tortillas (thin cornmeal pastries). Be sure not to confuse tortilla mexicana with tortilla espanola that is prepared mainly from potatoes and eggs).
Tortilla is a culinary foundation in Mexico and without it, nothing would be possible… Most of Mexican dishes (enchiladas, quesadillas, flautas, tacos, chilaquiles, salbutes) include some kind of tortilla! You’ll see it for yourself! 🙂
Burritos or chili con carne? That’s more tex-mex! You won’t find chili con carne in Mexico – at least we didn’t find any during our 2-3 week long trip! You better do it at home as it is also a simple dish that tastes great rolled into a warm tortilla… Burritos? You may find them in some places in Mexico – usually in areas visited by American tourists (on Yucatan in Tulum areas, Cancun or Playa del Carmen). Anywhere else it’s tacos that rule. Little tortillas with chicken, pork, beef, coriander, onions and avocado. You can treat it as a snack, starter or eat it for breakfast!When it comes to dishes that are familiar and liked in Poland, but not only in Mexican restaurants, quesadilla should ring a bell. It’s two folded tortillas with hot, melted cheese inside. It’s one of my favourite Mexican dishes and I often order it when we visited Mexican restaurants – e.g. with chicken and avocado dip! Delicious! It’s also easy to make at home – just take a tortilla, put some cheese on it, add salami, ham and hot peppers, cover it with another tortilla and put it into the oven! A party snack that’s ready in 5 minutes!:) Try it! 🙂 In Mexico, the best quesadilla is served without too many ingredients, prepared on a remote burner, eaten with hands. The vibe makes you remember its taste for a few years!
When it comes to breakfast chilaquiles verdes or chilaquiles rojos con pollo are also quite popular.
I still remember the first time I tried chilaquiles. That’s because they were prepared by my Mexican friend with whom I spend time in Spain on Erasmus programme. She prepared nachos, boiled chicken, cream, onion and ready-made salsa verde – a Mexican sauce made from tomatillos, onions, coriander, lime and chili (you can make it yourself or buy it – sometimes even in Poland). I got a bit terrified when she placed nachos, bits of boiled chicken, raw onions and cream on the cake tin. What a mix! Onions and cream? But after she baked it with the salsa verde it turned out to be delicious! In Mexico, chilaquiles were everywhere! And usually they served it for breakfast! At first it was a bit heavy for us as for a breakfast, but then we got used to it, as we did with pho soup in Vietnam! 🙂
Salbutes is another of my Mexican favourites. It’s tortilla again – this time served with salad, chicken, tomatoes and red onions. Salbutes are small, crispy and perfect as a snack during sightseeing. Łukasz (the one that’s more adventurous) also tried queso relleno (cheese stuffed with minced meat, floating in white, corn flour sauce) but I wasn’t sure about it!
But Mexico is not only about tortillas and chicken (and beans:)). On Yucatan you can try some delicious fish and seafood. Grilled, stewed and fried. You can choose from calamari, fish, sometimes even an octopus. I really liked ceviche mixto (a mix of marinated seafood in lime, onion, tomato and coriander sauce) that we tried in some tiny restaurant on a pretty deserted beach. On the other hand I loved grilled octopus served in one of most elegant restaurants in Cancun. If you like shrimps and coconut you may like the exotic combination from Campeche.
ceviche – with fish or shrimps – refreshing and perfect for heat
coconut shrimps in Campeche
Coconut. It’s quite popular in Mexico as well as in Thailand. It’s a perfect and refreshing drink. And you can eat the pulp for the dessert! If you prefer something sweeter, try marquesitas, that are hard to miss in most cities and towns as they are prepared outside and the sellers shout loud about it. Marquesitas is sort of a Mexican version of Polish crispy pastry rolls with cream. The seller pours some of the pancake pastry on the pan as if he tries to fry a pancake. Then he stuffs the roll (or a pancake) with e.g. Nutella and rolls it. We get a crispy waffle with desired filling that’s still hot. Quite a tasty snack, especially during an evening walk (also available with cheese and a spicy sauce).
What do Mexicans eat? 🙂 They love their cuisine and it’s a great honour if they let you try something homemade! 🙂 Sometimes these are traditional Mexican meals (like chilaquiles) and on other occasions you may be surprised how similar to Polish cooking their meals are. Our Mexican friend also served us something similar to our zapiekankas or toasts! The only difference was that instead of ham and mushrooms under the cheese, there was frijoles refritos, boiled and grated beans! And yes, it was tasty!
In bigger cities you can also find lots of food chains and restaurants serving food from all around the world. Something for everybody – McDonald’s, pizza, sushi etc. But you know that we try to taste local cuisine as much as we can! We leave the world restaurants to the locals! Mexicans also like to order takeaway food online. It’s not a surprise that Mexican tacos are the most popular for online takeaways. But the second most popular thing is the world familiar pizza! Sushi is also getting more and more popular in Mexico – it’s the third most popular online takeaway. It is slowly becoming more popular than traditional food when it comes to takeaways. What doesn’t change is the Mexicans’ nature – they are still family oriented and outgoing and they always order food in company of friends and family whether it is tacos or pizza. We also order food online from time to time and we may be a bit similar to Mexicans as it is usually pizza, sushi or Oriental food :). You can order food here for instance.
PS. Don’t ask us what Maks was eating in Mexico as he was 7 months old then and ate “jar” food instead of restaurant specialties 🙂 He didn’t have the opportunity to fall in love with tortilla or nachos. But he still has time! 🙂
PS2. You should definitely try some Mexican food! At home or in the restaurant, or maybe on the Yucatan itself? You don’t have to go all the way and fly on your own. Browse the net and find yourself an attractive organised trip – on Fly.pl for instance.
*The entry was written in cooperation with Pizzaportal.pl