Culture

21 Facts About Mexican Dishes You Definitely Didn’t Know

Mexican food is popular all over the world for its bold flavors. Tacos can be found on almost every continent of the world, and many Americans consider Mexican food to be a comfort food. The tradition of Mexican cooking is rich with culture and heritage, and it is an art that’s preserved in many families. Learn more about the history of Mexican food in this article, as well as some fun facts. See what makes Mexican food some of the tastiest and most interesting cuisine on the planet.

1. Where Tomatoes Were First Grown

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Tomatoes originated in Mexico. It’s a common ingredient in foods from all over the world. Its wild ancestor, the Solanum pimpinellifolium grew in Peru and Ecuador. It was cultivated by the Aztecs, and the seeds were brought over to Spain. Little wild tomatoes can be found all over the region.

2. Tamales Go Way Back

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Tamales are more than 8,000 years old. It is a traditional Indian recipe that cooks the food in corn husks. Vendors each have different recipes, based on the time of year and what they have on hand. The word comes from the Nahuatl word tamalii, which translates to steamed corn dough. El zacahui is a giant 3 foot tamale that weighs 150 pounds, found on the state of San Luis Potosi.

3. Who Was Margarita?

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The margarita is a drink that’s said to have been created for a showgirl named Marjorie King. The owner of the restaurant Rancho La Gloria named Carlos “Danny” Herrera served her the drink in the 1930’s. Later, a German ambassador’s daughter who was named Margarita Henkel was served the drink by a bartender named Don Carlos Orozco.

4. True World Cuisine

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Mexican food is multicultural blend of Native American, European, African, and Caribbean influences. These include plantains from the Caribbean, spices from Africa, and confectionery creations like pan or dulches from Europe. Many dishes used animals bred and domesticated in Europe, as well as rice which is from Asia.

5. Holiday Traditions

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Most holidays have special bakery items that Mexicans eat. For Christmas, a tradition is to eat circular shaped butter cookies with red and green sprinkles made to look like wreaths. On Cinco de Mayo, a popular snack is churros with coconut sauce.

6. World Heritage Cuisine

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Did you know UNESCO only recognizes 3 cuisines in the world on its intangible heritage lists, and Mexico is one of the three, with the other two being Mediterranean and French. It is a cuisine that is recognized all over the world as delicious.

7. The Legend Of The Nacho

Nachos were invented by the owner of a restaurant named Ignacio “Nacho” Araya. Nacho is a nickname of Ignacio that is common in Mexico. He is said to have made it in 1949 for a late night group that came. He invented the dish on the spot, using ingredients he could find in the kitchen and calling it Nacho’s Especialies, later shortened to nachos.

8. Where did Fajitas Come From?

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Fajitas were first spotted in a print recipe in 1975. The tradition of using skirt steak come from the ranchers who would use the cuts. In the 1930’s, “fajita” was used to describe that cut of steak. Marinated steak grilled with vegetables was served and called bontanzas, which means appetizer. The restaurant Nifa’s in Houston was the first to feature it on a menu.

9. Unique Ingredients

Some traditional recipes use exotic or unusual animals in preparing them. There are recipes that include dessert dwellers like rattlesnakes or iguanas. Other recipes have frogs and salamanders. Another traditional ingredient that native people would eat is insects. Western society discouraged this tradition, but there are still vendors who will cook with insects or their eggs. Daring foodies might want to explore this culinary tradition.

10. Eat Flowers

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Did you know that many traditional recipes use flowers? Squash blossom soup is a favorite. The yellow flower has a sweet taste that is milder than spinach. Other recipes use cactus, also known as nopal, and it’s thought to help balance blood sugar levels.

11. Kitchen Tools

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Mexican cuisine has its own unique tools for cooking. There are special utensils to make chocolate maker called molinillo. There is also a mortal and pestle that is used in the kitchen called the molcajete to grind spices.

13. Regional Varieties

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In the North of Mexico, meat dishes are the speciality while in the south vegetables and chicken are more widely used. Fish is common in areas that are around the sea such as the state of Vera Cruz.

14. Full of Healthy Ingredients

 

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Authentic Mexican food is actually a health food. Full of fresh vegetables and spices, there are many antioxidants in it. The traditional mixture of rice and beans makes for the perfect combination of carbs and protein. Mexican food is low fat and full of vitamins and minerals It’s a balance of all the food groups: seeds, beans meat, dairy, grains, and vegetables.

15. Chilis are the Favorite Peppers

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Chili is one of the most common traditional ingredients. In Mexico, there are more than 100 different kinds of chilies.  Even desserts have chili in them.

16. Mexican Milkshake Medicine

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Mocatezuma is known as the creator of the milkshake. He would drink a blended beverage with chocolate and honey, and Spaniards learned the recipe in 1521. Chocolate was mixed with vanilla for a beverage that was supposed to have medicinal properties. ‘

17.  Canned Tortillas

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Canned Mexican food has been available in grocery stores since the 1940’s. There were even canned tortillas. This is in part because of the success of Mexican American women  who worked in canneries to unionize.

18.Origin of Chocolate

 

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Chocolate comes from the cacao plant. The Aztecs had their own chocolate goddess. According to myth, she was married to Ek Chunh, the god of commerce. Cacao beans were once used as a form of currency. It was traditionally used as a beverage called chocolatl.

19. Mole Can Be Many Flavors

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Mole is a term for many different sauces. There are sweet varieties of mole made with chocolate or cinnamon. There is also spicy mole made with chili peppers. Regions have their own specialty moles. The region of Puebla is known for its poblano mole, which is one of the most famous kinds.

20. Vanilla Growers

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Did you know the Aztecs also grew and cultivated vanilla?  The Totonecs were a tribe in the eastern part of Mexican, and they grew the exotic orchid for its vanilla bean, which the Aztecs called Tlilxochitl. Hernan Cortes brought it to Western Europe. Vanilla is the second most expensive flavor in the world, behind saffron.

21. One of the World’s Happiest Countries

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Mexico is the world’s largest beer exporter. They’re famous for Coronas, Tecate, Modelo, Pacifico, Indio, Victoria, Sol, and Indio as well as other brands. It’s also the birthplace of tequila and mezcal. Mexico is also known as the second happiest country in the world, behind Costa Rica.

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America Ferrera Celebrates 20th Anniversary Of Working On ‘Gotta Kick It Up’ With Sweet IG Post

Entertainment

America Ferrera Celebrates 20th Anniversary Of Working On ‘Gotta Kick It Up’ With Sweet IG Post

It has been 20 years since America Ferrera’s dream of becoming an actor back true. She took to Instagram to reflect on the moment that her dream started to come true and it is a sweet reminder that anyone can chase their dreams.

America Ferrera shared a sweet post reflecting on the 20th anniversary of working on “Gotta Kick It Up!”

“Gotta Kick It Up!” was one of the earliest examples of Latino representation so many of us remember. The movie follows a school dance team trying to be the very best they could possibly be. The team was down on their luck but a new teacher introduces them to a different kind of music to get them going again.

After being introduced to Latin beats, the dance team is renewed. It taps into a cultural moment for the Latinas on the team and the authenticity of the music makes their performances some of the best.

While the movie meant so much to Latino children seeing their culture represented for the first time, the work was a major moment for Ferrera. In the Instagram post, she gushes over the celebrities she saw on the lot she was working on. Of course, anyone would be excited to see Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt hanging out. Yet, what stands out the most is Ferrera’s own excitement to realize that she can make money doing what she loves most.

“I wish I could go back and tell this little baby America that the next 20 years of her life will be filled with unbelievable opportunity to express her talent and plenty of challenges that will allow her to grow into a person, actress, producer, director, activist that she is very proud and grateful to be. We did it baby girl. I’m proud of us,” Ferrera reflects.

Watch the trailer for “Gotta Kick It Up!” here.

READ: America Ferrera’s “Superstore” Is Going To Get A Spanish-Language Adaptation In A Win For Inclusion

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This Artist Has Been Breaking Barriers As A Non-Traditional Mariachi

Entertainment

This Artist Has Been Breaking Barriers As A Non-Traditional Mariachi

On a recent episode of ABC’s game show To Tell The Truth, three celebrity panelists were tasked to uncover the identity of a real mariachi singer.

Each contender embodied “non-traditional” attributes of mariachi culture either through physical appearance or language barriers, leaving the panelists stumped.

When it came time for the big reveal, with a humble smile 53-year-old Timoteo “El Charro Negro” stood up wowing everyone. Marveled by his talents, Timoteo was asked to perform unveiling his smooth baritone voice.

While not a household name in the U.S., his career spans over 25 years thriving on the catharsis of music.

Timoteo “El Charro Negro” performing “Chiquilla Linda” on Dante Night Show in 2017.

Originally from Dallas, Texas, Timoteo, born Timothy Pollard, moved to Long Beach, California with his family when he was eight years old. The move to California exposed Pollard to Latin culture, as the only Black family in a Mexican neighborhood.

As a child, he recalled watching Cantinflas because he reminded him of comedian Jerry Lewis, but musically he “got exposed to the legends by chance.”

“I was bombarded by all the 1960s, ’70s, and ’50s ranchera music,” Timoteo recalls to mitú.

The unequivocal passion mariachi artists like Javier Solis and Vicente Fernandez possessed heavily resonated with him.

“[The neighbors] always played nostalgic music, oldies but goodies, and that’s one thing I noticed about Mexicans,” Timoteo says. “They can be in their 20s but because they’ve grown up listening to the oldies it’s still very dear to them. That’s how they party.”

For as long as he can remember, Pollard “was born with the genetic disposition to love music,” knowing that his future would align with the arts.

After hearing Vicente Fernandez sing “Lástima Que Seas Ajena,” an awakening occurred in Pollard. While genres like hip-hop and rap were on the rise, Pollard’s passion for ranchera music grew. It was a moment when he realized that this genre best suited his big voice.

Enamored, Pollard began to pursue a career as a Spanish-language vocalist.

El Charro Negro
Photo courtesy of Timothy Pollard.

At 28, Timoteo began learning Spanish by listening and singing along to those artists he adored in his youth.

“When I decided that I wanted to be a mariachi, I didn’t think it was fair to exploit the culture and not understand the language,” he says. “If I’m going to sing, I need to be able to communicate with my audience and engage with them. I need to understand what I’m saying because it was about honor and respect.”

Pollard began performing local gigs after picking up the language in a matter of months. He soon attracted the attention of “Big Boy” Radio that adorned him the name Timoteo “El Charro Negro.”

Embellishing his sound to highlight his Black heritage, Pollard included African instruments like congas and bongos in his orchestra. Faintly putting his own spin on a niche genre, Pollard avoided over-saturating the genre’s sound early in his career.

Embraced by his community as a beloved mariachi, “El Charro Negro” still encountered race-related obstacles as a Black man in the genre.

“There are those [in the industry] who are not in the least bit thrilled to this day. They won’t answer my phone calls, my emails, my text messages I’ve sent,” he says. “The public at large hasn’t a problem with it, but a lot of the time it’s those at the helm of decision making who want to keep [the genre] exclusively Mexican.”

“El Charro Negro” persisted, slowly attracting fans worldwide while promoting a message of harmony through his music.

In 2007, 12 years into his career, Pollard received a golden ticket opportunity.

El Charro Negro
Pollard (left) seen with legendary Mexican artist Vicente Fernandez (right) in 2007. Photo courtesy of Timothy Pollard.

In a by-chance encounter with a stagehand working on Fernandez’s tour, Pollard was offered the chance to perform onstage. The singer was skeptical that the offer was legit. After all, what are the chances?

The next day Pollard went to his day job at the time and said, “a voice in my head, which I believe was God said, ‘wear your blue velvet traje tonight.'”

That evening Pollard went to a sold-out Stockton Area where he met his idol. As he walked on the stage, Pollard recalls Fernandez insisting that he use his personal mic and band to perform “De Que Manera Te Olvido.”

“[Fernandez] said he did not even want to join me,” he recollects about the show. “He just was kind and generous enough to let me sing that song on his stage with his audience.”

The crowd applauded thunderously, which for Pollard was a sign of good things to come.

El Charro Negro
Timoteo “El Charro Negro” with Don Francisco on Don Francisco Presenta in 2011. Photo courtesy of Timothy Pollard.

In 2010, he released his debut album “Me Regalo Contigo.” In perfect Spanish, Pollard sings with great conviction replicating the soft tones of old-school boleros.

Unraveling the rollercoaster of relationships, heart-wrenchingly beautiful ballads like “Me Regalo Contigo” and “Celos” are his most streamed songs. One hidden gem that has caught the listener’s attention is “El Medio Morir.”

As soon as the track begins it is unlike the others. Timoteo delivers a ’90s R&B love ballad in Spanish, singing with gumption as his riffs and belts encapsulate his unique sound and story.

Having appeared on shows like Sabado Gigante, Don Francisco Presenta, and Caso Cerrado in 2011, Timoteo’s career prospered.

Timoteo hasn’t released an album since 2010 but he keeps his passion alive. The singer has continued to perform, even during the Covid pandemic. He has high hopes for future success and original releases, choosing to not slow down from his destined musical journey.

“If God is with me, who can be against me? It may not happen in a quick period of time, but God will make my enemies my footstool,” he said.

“I’ve continued to be successful and do some of the things I want to do; maybe not in a particular way or in particular events, but I live in a very happy and fulfilled existence.”

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