Culture

Here’s What These Top Mexican Chefs Have To Say About The Future Of Mexican Food In The US

Mexican food is one of most popular cuisines in the United States and for good reason. In 2017, CHD Expert estimated that there are more than 59,800 Mexican restaurants in the U.S. Mexican Menu foods are also more common in the U.S. than hamburgers or pizza. That’s why it’s no surprise that Mexican chefs are constantly re-inventing the iconic food and finding new ways to prepare timeless dishes.

Some of the top Mexican and Mexican-American chefs gathered for a panel about the future of Mexican cuisine in the U.S.

CREDIT: CREDIT: Javier Rojas/ mitú

Cacique, a leading brand of Mexican-style cheeses, curated a panel discussion with some of the world’s top Mexican and Mexican-American chefs to share their takes on what will impact the culinary world.

The panel was hosted by award-winning chef Aarón Sánchez and consisted of Chef Bricia Lopez of Guelaguetza in Los Angeles, Chef Richard Ampudia of La Esquina in New York City, Chef Santiago Gomez of Cantina La Veinte and Tacology in Miami and Chef Wes Avila of Guerrilla Tacos in Los Angeles. These are some of dishes and food trends they think you should look out for in the coming year.

Among the many food trends you should expect to see in 2019 are the return to local origin ingredients and handmade tortillas.

CREDIT: CREDIT: Javier Rojas/ mitú

In the world of food there are countless trends that come and go but when it comes to Mexican food what was once old is now new. When asked what we should look out for in Mexican food in 2019, Lopez said she sees the return to basics in terms of where chefs find their ingredients. She says there will be a localized understanding and appreciation of the ingredients that comes from Mexican cuisine.

“I think there will be a growing respect and appreciation for these types of ingredients that don’t necessarily come from the U.S. like chiles and pozole,” Lopez said. “Places like Oaxaca have some of the best ingredients and you can tell the difference just be a single ingredient.”

Avila uses handmade tortillas for all his food at his taco restaurant in LA. According to Avila, we should expect to see a growing appreciation for the ingredients and process used to make them.

“I think if you ask anyone that’s had a handmade tortilla they can taste the flour and the corn and there is a certain appreciation for the entire process,” Avila said. “It might take more time to make but that’s where the consumer needs to appreciate there is a lot of heart going into their dish.”

Open fire cooking will return as the top preparation style at restaurants.

CREDIT: CREDIT: Javier Rojas/ mitú

According to Avila and Lopez, open fire grilling isn’t only what’s next in Mexican cuisine it’s going to be part of a revolution in how many restaurants prepare their food. Open fire grilling is popular because of the slow cook burning taste that meats like barbacoa get when prepared over wood.

“It’s a unique taste when you bite into some barbacoa and can see the smokey flavors that went into preparing it,” Avila said.

Lopez says when she traveled to Oaxaca she saw many homes with no refrigerators or stoves just open fire cooking.

Vegan makeovers to Keto Diet-friendly versions of your favorite Mexican classics will be on menus.

CREDIT: CREDIT: Javier Rojas/ mitú

As more people switch to healthier and more plant based diets, Mexican dishes have adjusted as well. Ampudia says you may start to see full Mexican food menus catered to vegan and keto diets.

“Dishes like eggplant and squash will take the base of the meal instead of your traditional meats,” Ampudia says. “We are moving towards a new movement in Mexican food that is being influenced by mainstream dieting food trends.”

A fusion of Asian and Mexican techniques will be used when preparing and presenting dishes.

CREDIT: CREDIT: Javier Rojas/ mitú

Ampudia says that when traveling to Mexico City he has seen a growing population of Japanese chefs in the area that are creating Mexican-Asian fused dishes. He says the growing population of chefs are already influencing young Mexican chefs in the area who in return are traveling to the U.S and Europe with these new fresh ideas.

“Asian-Mexican fusion is here to stay and the dishes compliment each other so well with their flavors,” Ampudia says. “Umami and these different types of spices can be found in Mexico and in Asia which makes it easy to create these dishes.”

Los Angeles and Chicago will continue to grow as hotspots for Mexican food in the United States.

CREDIT: CREDIT: Javier Rojas/ mitú

Both LA and Chicago are home to some of the largest populations of Latinos in the country. Avila says LA is the mecca of Mexican food in the U.S. and says that that’s where the Mexican food future is. He says that because of California’s resources when it comes to ingredients which makes it easier to experiment and try out new dishes year round.

“All eyes are going to be on LA when it comes to the forefront of what’s next in Mexican food,” Avila said.

Gomez has also seen Miami grow not only as a Mexican community but a hot spot of new dishes because ingredients are becoming more available than ever before.

“Everyone down there is into the corn, frijoles and quesos which is paving the way for more dishes. It’s a difficult place because it has a lot of Latin influences but not Mexican,” Gomez says. “Were trying to show that Mexican food not only is making its mark in Miami but it has a home.”

As for things that need to change is the misconception that Mexican food is cheap street food.

CREDIT: CREDIT: Javier Rojas/ mitú

One of the biggest misconceptions when it comes to Mexican food is that it’s cheap and you shouldn’t pay as much for it compared to other dishes. All of the chefs agree that this stigma needs to change and it starts with Mexicans themselves who need to start appreciating their own food. That also applies to using the correct names when listing food items on menus instead of trying to create trendy new titles.

“I always hear people say ‘OMG I love Mexican food but when it’s too expensive I won’t pay for it’ and that needs to stop and start with us,” Lopez says. “The idea that it’s okay to pay $20 for a bowl of pasta but trip when they have to pay for a $20 bowl of mole is insane. As Mexicans and Mexican-American chefs we should be the first to give our food the respect it deserves.”


READ: These Restaurants Are Serving Up Some Of The Best Mexican Food From The West Coast To The East Coast

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It Could Be Time To Say Goodbye To Your Salsa Forever As Tomatoes And Chilies Are In Danger Of Going Extinct

Culture

It Could Be Time To Say Goodbye To Your Salsa Forever As Tomatoes And Chilies Are In Danger Of Going Extinct

Pixabay

Two of Latin America’s most important ingredients – staples of cuisines across the region – are in danger of possible extinction thanks to climate change. Tomatoes and chilies both make up a huge part of traditional recipes from Mexico to Brazil and Argentina to Cuba – and they’re close to disappearing from grocery stores everywhere.

We know that tomato and chili are two fundamental ingredients in Mexican cuisine. Due to the threats suffered by its main pollinator, the bumblebee, these basic ingredients could disappear forever.

Climate change is wreaking havoc on the planet. But one of the most at-risk species is the humble bumble bee. These often feared insects are a vital source of pollination for thousands of plant and flower species around the world – if they disappear so too do the species of plants that depend on them.

Pollinators are species of great importance for a healthy environment. They are responsible for the the diversity and health of various biomes. Across Latin America, the bumble bee is largely responsible for the pollination of modern agriculture and this could have a major impact on the production of tomatoes and chilis.

Unfortunately, bumblebees are currently threatened, resulting in the possible extinction of different vegetables, including tomatoes and chili.

But why does the tiny bumble bee matter at all?

The bumble bee belongs to the insect family Apidae, which includes hundeds of different species of bumblebees. In fact, the bumble bee can be found on every continent except Antarctica and plays an outsized role in agriculture. The insects are often larger than honey bees, come in black and white varieties and often feature white, yellow, or orange stripes. This genus belongs to the Apidae family that includes different species commonly known as bumblebees. They’re almost entirely covered by very silky hairs. An adult bumblebee reaches 20 millimeters or more and feeds primarily on nectar from flowering plants. A curious fact is that females have the ability to sting, while males do not.

Bumblebees are epic pollinators of the tomato and chili plantS. Together with different species, the bumblebee helps produce many staple foods that are part of healthy diets around the world. If these become extinct the eating habits of all Latinos would suffer drastic changes as several vegetables would disappear.

So why are bumblebees in danger?

The main threat of these insects is the pesticides used in modern agriculture. That is why it is necessary to avoid consuming food produced in this way. We can all help the bumblebee planting plants, protecting native species and especially not damaging their natural environment.

But climate change is also wreaking havoc on the breeding patters of bumblebees – leading to colony collapse. With fewer colonies there is less breeding and therefore fewer bees around the world to pollinate our global crops.

Can you imagine a world without tomatoes or chilies?

Salsa. Moles. Pico de gallo. Ketchup. Chiles rellenos. Picadillo. All of these iconic Latin American dishes would be in danger of going extinct along with the bumblebee – because what’s a mole without the rich, complex flavors of dried chilies?

Several groups are already working hard to help fund programs that would work to conserve the dwindling bumblebee populations. While others are working out solutions that could perhaps allow tomatoes and chilies to self-pollinate – much as other plants already do.

We Found The Best Latino Eats At Trader Joe’s So You Wouldn’t Have To

Culture

We Found The Best Latino Eats At Trader Joe’s So You Wouldn’t Have To

Trader Joe's

Trader Joe’s may not be the first name that comes to mind when you’re thinking of authentic Latin food. But surprisingly enough, this cult-favorite specialty store has a variety of foods from across Latinidad that (while they may not be as good as abuela’s) hit the spot when you’re in a pinch. 

From Frozen quesadillas to packaged plantain chips, Trader Joe’s has a ton of foods from Latin America to satisfy your wallet and your tastebuds. And who knows? Maybe even your abuela will approve. Take a look at 10 of the best Trader Joe’s Latin food options below! 

1. Southwest Chicken Quesadillas

via Trader Joe’s website

According to Reddit user u/gratefulem220, these treats fly woefully under the radar. “Southwest quesadillas are so good. They’re like southwest egg rolls from any chain restaurant but in quesadilla form”

2. Chili Spiced Dried Mango

via Trader Joe’s website

You may have grown out of your Vero Mango days, but Trader Joe’s offers a sweet and healthy alternative to the famous Mexican candy. According to Trader Joe’s, this dried fruit is lovingly coated in a “blend of paprika, cayenne, sugar, & salt”. What’s not to love?

3. Chicken Enchiladas Verde

via Trader Joe’s website

According to Trader Joe’s, their Chicken Enchiladas are filled with “chicken breast, Monterey jack cheese, and a special enchiladas verdes sauce made from crushed tomatillo, onion, green chili peppers, and diced poblanos.”  We know it’s hard to beat homemade, but Trader Joes usually comes through with yummy late night snacks.

4. Mini Chicken Tacos

via Trader Joe’s website

Sure, these aren’t your madre’s tacos, but these Mini Chicken Tacos haven’t become a fan-favorite for nothing. According to Trader Joe’s, these tacos are made with crispy yellow corn tortillas, and then “are filled with chunks of chicken leg and breast meat that’s been simmered in a tangy, green chile tomatillo sauce kicked up with a bit of jalapeño pepper”. Sounds delicious.

5. Cuban-Style Citrus Garlic Bowl

via Trader Joe’s website

Finally, a snack fit for the Cubanos out there. While Trader Joe’s may be famous for it’s iterations of Mexican food (it was founded in Southern California, after all), once in a while, they throw the rest of Latinidad a bone. This time, they tried their hand at a Cuban Style Citrus Garlic Bowl. According to TJ’s, the bowl is made of marinated chicken thighs, yellow rice, diced bell peppers and onions, black beans, plantains, and cilantro. And to make matters even better, it’s topped of with mojo criollo sauce.

6. Black Bean & Cheese Taquitos

via Trader Joe’s website

Taquitos are arguably the perfect snack food. If it’s gameday finger food or mouth-watering appetizers, taquitos always hit the spot. These ones are made with “seasoned black beans & Monterey Jack cheese”. You can’t go wrong with this tasty vegetarian snack option. 

7. Chicken Chilaquiles Rojo

via Trader Joe’s website

Chilaquiles are a breakfast staple in Mexico, and TJ’s has offered up it’s own version on this savory treat. If you really want to take this frozen food to the next level, don’t be afraid to experiment in the kitchen a bit. “We made this this weekend, topped with sour cream, avocado, a sunny side up egg and a dash of hot sauce,” said Reddit user u/Pepperpeople444.

8. Roasted Plantain Chips

via Trader Joe’s website

In many parts of Latinidad, plantains are as common to Latinos as apples are to North Americans. Those who miss their sweet banana snacks are in for a treat when they visit Trader Joe’s. “They’re just crispy, crunchy, starchy goodness!” says Reddit user u/Hazy_Cat. “There’s just a teeny-tiny hint of sweetness that makes them ultra addictive. The TJ ones are my favorite”.

9. Giant Peruvian Inca Corn

via Trader Joe’s website

If you’re in the mood for something salty and crunchy but know that potato chips won’t hit the spot, opt instead for a bag of Giant Peruvian Inca Corn. “For years of my life, my favorite go to snack was TJ’s giant Peruvian Inca Corn. It’s crunchy salty goodness got me through many nights of school and games. Satisfied me through many hungry afternoons,” says Reddit user u/Doombuggie41. “Corn nuts don’t do the same thing”.

10. Trader Joe’s Peruvian Style Chimichurri Rice

via Trader Joe’s website

According to Reddit user u/crazypterodactyl, there’s a million ways to use this delicious frozen rice: “We make ours into soup (they had it as a sample one time). One bag chimichurri rice, one can black beans, one carton black bean soup. I add garlic and lime juice, but that’s not necessary. Serve plain, or with cheese, sour cream, and/or cilantro. So good and so easy!”