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

Instagram @bccooking4you 

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

Instagram @sana.tortilla 

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?

Instagram @zapatasmexicanrestaurant 

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

Instagram @oscotijas 

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

Instagram @streetsmartsgt 

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

Instagram @leslievillelife 

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?

Instagram @thegraysonny

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

Instagram @mexico.1492 

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

Instagram @elpulposandiego 

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

Instagram @ chengel_illustration

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

 

Instagram @rdrxnutrition

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

Instagram @ sal_northborneo

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

Instagram @ginnatigerfern 

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

Instagram @diegosauthenticfoods 

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

 

Instagram @ somos_yaussa

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

Instagram @ omnivore27 

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

Instagram @enchantedveggiedgarden

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

Instagram @aquimequedobarmelgar 

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.

21 Delicious And Healthy Takes on Traditional Mexican Foods

food and drink

21 Delicious And Healthy Takes on Traditional Mexican Foods

Traditional Mexican food is rich with a variety of vegetables and lean proteins, all boasting big flavors! In many ways, it was the Americanization of Mexican food that has made it less healthy. Switching to lean ground poultry, adding beans to ground meat dishes, using less sour cream, or switching to low fat cheese can all add up to make any dish healthier.  Let’s look beyond the tacos and burritos and into the kitchens across the country where it can be easy to find delicious, healthy versions of Mexican favorites…in fact, I bet you won’t have to look too far.

Corn Tortilla

A simple swap, choose the corn tortilla next time you order a taco. This staple food is a whole grain, which packs more fiber and nutrients than its flour counterpart.  At least half our daily grains should be whole grains. This is a tasty way to meet that goal!

Carne Asada

Get your protein grilled, not fried. Grilled steak packs a protein punch with little to no added fat, since it’s cooked on a grill and not sautéed in oil or butter.

Credit: Carne Asada. Pixabay.   9/14/13.

Huitlacoche or Corn Smut

Corn what? This corn fungus, which is very similar to mushroom in flavor,  is considered black gold in some areas of Mexico. When rain droplets fall into the corn husk, the kernels of corn begin to rot and develop a fungus that turns the golden kernels into grey, stone-like blobs. The fungus adds proteins that aren’t found naturally in regular corn kernels. This makes it a great choice in tacos or quesadillas for vegans or vegetarians.

Credit: Quesadilla. Pixabay. 10/23/18.

Fruta

Seemingly so simple but let’s not forget this healthy version of a sweet treat, after all, fruit is twice as sweet in Mexico! Fruit is always a good choice because it is packed with antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

Credit: Melon. Pixabay. 6/15/2016.

Arroz rojo

This tasty staple, is simple to make and has all the elements of a comfort food; warm and flavorful. You can make a healthier version by swapping in brown rice for white rice.

Credit: Rice. Pixabay.  10/27/2016.

Mole de olla

This hearty soup is a steaming bowl of comfort (and nutrients!) on a gray day. This soup consists of broth with potatoes, tomatoes, green beans, zucchini, corn, and other vegetables that suit your taste. Preparing your soup with beef or pork? Trim the visible fat off the meat to reduce the amount of saturated fat in the recipe.

Credit: Chicken stew. Pixabay.  05/16/2016.

Tortilla soup

So much soup! Another bowl of steaming comfort, the chicken is baked, grilled, roasted, or poached making it a lean, low fat choice with a ton of protein! Instead of topping your soup with crumbled fried tortillas try baking your tortillas in the oven until crisp and then crumbling them.

Credit: Chicken soup. Pixabay.  11/27/2013.

Pescado

Another healthy Mexican dish, a whole grilled fish is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, the kind you get in fish oil supplements ,which are so good for your heart! Grilling the fish means little to no added fat. Using fresh herbs, such as cilantro, and citrus juice, such as lime, make the fish flavorful without any added salt!

Credit: Fish. Pixabay.  11/5/2016.

Pico de gallo

This fresh salsa is a great way to add a healthy boost to any dish. Fresh tomatoes, cilantro, lime, and onions provide flavor, fiber, and antioxidants.  It’s a juicy flavor boost in each bite!

Credit: Pico de gallo. Pixabay. 04/30/2017.

Tomatillo salsa

This vibrant green salsa is rich in vitamin C and vitamin K. It packs a flavorful punch on any fish or taco.

Credit: Salsa. Pixabay. 01/09/2015.

Goat Birria

A tomatillo broth with rich meatiness is another healthy Mexican dish, that will have you asking for seconds. When using goat (or pork) trim the visible fat and use a low sodium broth to make your soup.

Credit: Soup. Pixabay. 04/11/2018.

Carne adobada

Another alternative taco filling, pork or beef is roasted in chilies, garlic, onion, vinegar, and plenty of herbs and spices.  Though packed with flavor, making it at home means it is not packed with sodium.

Credit: Carne. Pixabay. 03/27/2018.

Guacamole

What’s a list without guacamole? This creamy fruit (yes, a fruit!) is a great option when topping a baked chip or taco. Just be mindful – 1/3 of an avocado is the recommended portion.

Credit: Guacamole. Pixabay.  07/08/2014.

Guisada al pollo

Chipotles in adobo are responsible for the flavor punch in this dish. Along with flavor from protein, carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, pineapples, and bell peppers it’s super nutritious without being super salty.

Credit: Chicken stew. Pixabay. 07/10/2012.

Ceviche

Fish is almost always a healthy choice and this is no exception. “Cooked” in citrus fruits and juice, this seafood dish is cured without adding the fat found in fried fish.

Credit: Ceviche. Pixabay. 12/31/2014.

Agua fresca

Homemade agua fresca is going to be a healthier version than store-bought, most of the time. You can add fresh or frozen fruit to your water to add subtle flavor. Try using less  sugar or simple syrup. You can also use agave, Splenda, or another calorie free sweetener to cut down on the amount of added sugars you consume from drinks.

Credit: Agua Fresca. Pixabay. 11/09/2018.

Empanadas

These pocket pies are filled with deliciousness, and when that crust breaks open to reveal a savory sauce or sweet fruit filling, it’s like heaven in your mouth! Baking your empanadas, instead of frying them, will make them a bit more heavenly with a lot less added fat.

Credit: Empanadas. Pixabay.  6/22/2014.

Sopa de poro y papa

This potato leek soup is another delicious dish. When adding the cream or sour cream, try a low fat version or try using plain Greek yogurt. By using plain yogurt, you‘ll be adding protein, calcium, probiotics, and cutting way back on saturated fat!

Credit: Potatoes. Pixabay. 05/26/2018.

Guiso de flor calabaza

This quick stew uses fresh squash blossoms from a summer squash plant.  It’s easy to prepare and quick to devour. Packed with cancer fighting antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fiber this stew is bright, beautiful, and as healthy as it comes.

Credit: Zucchini blossom. Pixabay. 07/25/2014.

Churros

A sweet treat! Traditionally fried then rolled in cinnamon and sugar, this tasty treat has soared in popularity – and for good reason, it’s delicious! It’s also loaded with added sugars and added fat. To make this treat a bit healthier, try piping your dough on a cookie sheet and baking it, to reduce the added fat.

Credit: Churros. Pixabay. 02/22/2015.

Salsa

Salsas are always a healthy topping for any dish or a great dip choice for baked chips. Salsas usually contain fruit and vegetables, such as tomatoes, tomatillos, mangoes, and even grapes! Some may even occasionally contain avocado, a source of healthy fats!

Credit: Salsa. Pixabay. 08/05/2016.

Paid Promoted Stories