food and drink

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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