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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Exclusive: Luis Fonsi Talks Working with Rauw Alejandro, Christina Aguilera, and Demi Lovato

Entertainment

Exclusive: Luis Fonsi Talks Working with Rauw Alejandro, Christina Aguilera, and Demi Lovato

Luis Fonsi is kicking off 2021 with a new single. The Puerto Rican superstar premiered the music video for “Vacío” on Feb. 18 featuring rising Boricua singer Rauw Alejandro. The guys put a new spin on the classic “A Puro Dolor” by Son By Four.

Luis Fonsi throws it back to his románticas.

“I called Omar Alfanno, the writer of ‘A Puro Dolo,’ who is a dear friend,” Fonsi tells Latido Music. “I told him what my idea was [with ‘Vacío’] and he loved it. He gave me his blessing, so I wrote a new song around a few of those lines from ‘A Puro Dolor’ to bring back that nostalgia of those old romantic tunes that have been a part of my career as well. It’s a fresh production. It sounds like today, but it has that DNA of a true, old-school ballad.”

The world got to know Fonsi through his global smash hit “Despacito” with Daddy Yankee in 2017. The remix with Canadian pop star Justin Bieber took the song to new heights. That was a big moment in Fonsi’s music career that spans over 20 years.

There’s more to Fonsi than “Despacito.”

Fonsi released his first album, the fittingly-titled Comenzaré, in 1998. While he was on the come-up, he got the opportunity of a lifetime to feature on Christina Aguilera’s debut Latin album Mi Reflejo in 2000. The two collaborated on “Si No Te Hubiera Conocido.” Fonsi scored multiple Billboard Hot Latin Songs No. 1s in the years that followed and one of the biggest hits was “No Me Doy Por Vencido” in 2008. That was his career-defining romantic ballad.

“Despacito” remains the second most-viewed music video on YouTube with over 7.2 billion views. The hits did not stop there. Later in 2017, he teamed up with Demi Lovato for “Échame La Culpa,” which sits impressively with over 2 billion views.

He’s also appearing on The Voice next month.

Not only is Fonsi working on his new album, but also he’s giving advice to music hopefuls for the new season of The Voice that’s premiering on March 1. Kelly Clarkson tapped him as her Battle Advisor. In an exclusive interview, Fonsi talked with us about “Vacío,” The Voice, and a few of his greatest hits.

What was the experience like to work with Rauw Alejandro for “Vacío”?

Rauw is cool. He’s got that fresh sound. Great artist. Very talented. Amazing onstage. He’s got that great tone and delivery. I thought he had the perfect voice to fit with my voice in this song. We had talked about working together for awhile and I thought that this was the perfect song. He really is such a star. What he’s done in the last couple of years has been amazing. I love what he brought to the table on this song.

Now I want to go through some of your greatest hits. Do you remember working with Christina Aguilera for her Spanish album?

How could you not remember working with her? She’s amazing. That was awhile back. That was like 1999 or something like that. We were both starting out and she was putting out her first Spanish album. I got to sing a beautiful ballad called “Si No Te Hubiera Conocido.” I got to work with her in the studio and see her sing in front of the mic, which was awesome. She’s great. One of the best voices out there still to this day.

What’s one of your favorite memories of “No Me Doy Por Vencido”?

“No Me Doy Por Vencido” is one of the biggest songs in my career. I think it’s tough to narrow it down just to one memory. I think in general the message of the song is what sticks with me. The song started out as a love song, but it turned into an anthem of hope. We’ve used the song for different important events and campaigns. To me, that song has such a powerful message. It’s bigger than just a love song. It’s bringing hope to people. It’s about not giving up. To be able to kind of give [people] hope through a song is a lot more powerful than I would’ve ever imagined. It’s a very special song.

I feel the message is very relevant to the COVID-19 pandemic we’re living through.

Oh yeah! I wrote that song a long time ago with Claudia Brant, and during the first or second month of the lockdown when we were all stuck at home, we did a virtual writing session and we rewrote “No Me Doy Por Vencido.” Changing the lyrics, kind of adjusting them to this situation that we’re living now. I haven’t recorded it. I’ll do something with it eventually. It’s really cool. It still talks about love. It talks about reuniting. Like the light at the end of the tunnel. It has the hope and love backbone, but it has to do a lot with what we’re going through now.

What do you think of the impact “Despacito” made on the industry?

It’s a blessing to be a part of something so big. Again, it’s just another song. We write these songs and the moment you write them, you don’t really know what’s going to happen with them. Or sometimes you run into these surprises like “Despacito” where it becomes a global phenomenon. It goes No. 1 in places where Spanish songs had never been played. I’m proud. I’m blessed. I’m grateful to have worked with amazing people like Daddy Yankee. Like Justin Bieber for the remix and everyone else involved in the song. My co-writer Erika Ender. The producers Mauricio Rengifo and Andrés Torres. It was really a team effort and it’s a song that obviously changed my career forever.

What was the experience like to work with Demi Lovato on “Echáme La Culpa”?

She’s awesome! One of the coolest recording sessions I’ve ever been a part of. She really wanted to sing in Spanish and she was so excited. We did the song in Spanish and English, but it was like she was more excited about the Spanish version. And she nailed it! She nailed it from the beginning. There was really not much for me to say to her. I probably corrected her once or twice in the pronunciation, but she came prepared and she brought it. She’s an amazing, amazing, amazing vocalist.

You’re going to be a battle advisor on The Voice. What was the experience like to work with Kelly Clarkson?

She’s awesome. What you see is what you get. She’s honest. She’s funny. She’s talented. She’s humble and she’s been very supportive of my career. She invited me to her show and it speaks a lot that she wanted me to be a part of her team as a Battle Advisor for the new season. She supports Latin music and I’m grateful for that. She’s everything you hope she would be. She’s the real deal, a true star, and just one of the coolest people on this planet.

What can we expect from you in 2021?

A lot of new music. Obviously, everything starts today with “Vacío.” This is literally the beginning of what this new album will be. I’ve done nothing but write and record during the last 10 months, so I have a bunch of songs. Great collaborations coming up. I really think the album will be out probably [in the] third or fourth quarter this year. The songs are there and I’m really eager for everybody to hear them.

Read: We Finally Have A Spanish-Language Song As The Most Streamed Song Of All Time

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Lifestyles Of The Rich And Dangerous: Cartels Are Using TikTok To Lure Young People

Things That Matter

Lifestyles Of The Rich And Dangerous: Cartels Are Using TikTok To Lure Young People

If you’ve ever wondered what someone with a bulletproof vest and an AR-15 would look like flossing — the dance, not the method of dental hygiene — apparently the answer to that question can be found on TikTok.

Unfortunately, it’s not as a part of some absurdist sketch comedy or surreal video art installation. Instead, it’s part of a growing trend of drug cartels in Mexico using TikTok as a marketing tool. Nevermind the fact that Mexico broke grim records last year for the number of homicides and cartel violence, the cartels have found an audience on TikTok and that’s a serious cause for concern.

Mexican cartels are using TikTok to gain power and new recruits.

Just a couple of months ago, a TikTok video showing a legit high-speed chase between police and drug traffickers went viral. Although it looked like a scene from Netflix’s Narcos series, this was a very real chase in the drug cartel wars and it was viewed by more than a million people.

Typing #CartelTikTok in the social media search bar brings up thousands of videos, most of them from people promoting a “cartel culture” – videos with narcocorridos, and presumed members bragging about money, fancy cars and a luxury lifestyle.

Viewers no longer see bodies hanging from bridges, disembodied heads on display, or highly produced videos with messages to their enemies. At least not on TikTok. The platform is being used mainly to promote a lifestyle and to generate a picture of luxury and glamour, to show the ‘benefits’ of joining the criminal activities.

According to security officials, the promotion of these videos is to entice young men who might be interested in joining the cartel with images of endless cash, parties, military-grade weapons and exotic pets like tiger cubs.

Cartels have long used social media to shock and intimidate their enemies.

And using social media to promote themselves has long been an effective strategy. But with Mexico yet again shattering murder records, experts on organized crime say Cartel TikTok is just the latest propaganda campaign designed to mask the blood bath and use the promise of infinite wealth to attract expendable young recruits.

“It’s narco-marketing,” said Alejandra León Olvera, an anthropologist at Spain’s University of Murcia, in a statement to the New York Times. The cartels “use these kinds of platforms for publicity, but of course it’s hedonistic publicity.”

Mexico used to be ground zero for this kind of activity, where researchers created a new discipline out of studying these narco posts. Now, gangs in Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, and the United States are also involved.

A search of the #CartelTikTok community and its related accounts shows people are responding. Public comments from users such as “Y’all hiring?” “Yall let gringos join?” “I need an application,” or “can I be a mule? My kids need Christmas presents,” are on some of the videos.

One of the accounts related to this cartel community publicly answered: “Of course, hay trabajo para todos,” “I’ll send the application ASAP.” “How much is the pound in your city?” “Follow me on Instagram to talk.” The post, showing two men with $100 bills and alcohol, had more than a hundred comments.

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