Things That Matter

How Mexico’s Most Popular Dishes Came To Be

Mexican food is as diverse as it is delicious. Full of flavors, spices, special sauces and other fresh ingredients, it simply cannot be matched anywhere in the world. In fact, Mexican food is a complex cuisine with roots that go back to the Aztec and pre-Aztec civilizations that practiced advanced agriculture techniques and cultivated a wide variety of specialty crops. Later, influences from Europe and other parts of the globe also found their way into the Mexican mix. The result? Sabor sin igual!  Now that Mexican food has conquered the entire globe, let’s take a look at the history of some of the most popular dishes and learn some fun facts about each one!

Tacos

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While tacos are now the most famous of Mexican foods, they are actually newcomers. Taquerias were born in the working class neighborhoods of Mexico city in the 19th century as quick and cheap restaurants. The many varieties of taco are a result of the different flavors of different parts of the country coming together for the first time.

Twitter@DEATHBYTACOS

Fun Fact:

The taco itself was named after the folded paper explosives used in the silver mines of Mexico during that period. When you think about the spice punch that a good taco packs, that actually makes a lot of sense!

Enchiladas

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Historians believe that the art of making enchiladas dates back to Mayan times. By rolling a tortilla around a meat filling you can then add sauce to the top layer. Add cheese on top of that and you have created heaven on earth! Thanks Maya!

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Fun Fact: 

The word enchilada literary means to “add spice to” (enchilar). That’s because the original enchiladas were dipped entirely in chili sauce before being eaten! There are now more than a dozen specific kinds of enchiladas from across Mexico and the American Southwest.

Menudo

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The history of menudo goes back to the hacienda period of Spanish control of Mexico. When the rich landowners would throw a party, they would kill a cow, take the prime cuts of meat, and then throw out the organ meats. The peasants would often save these meats, especially the stomach (tripe) and have their own party!

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Fun Fact:

Menudo parties are still an integral part of modern Mexican culture. Births, Christmas and many other family gatherings are celebrated by cooking up a huge pot of menudo for all the guests! Yum!

Burritos

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The origin of the burrito is actually hotly contested. Some claim it was invented in the USA by Mexican immigrants (San Francisco’s Mission District to be exact) while others say it actually originated in northern Mexican as a traveling meal. In either case, it was definitely an immigrant staple and is actually one of the most recent of Mexican dishes (a 20th century invention).

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Fun Fact: 

 Burritos are much more popular in the USA than in Mexico. In fact, you really won’t find burritos at all in many parts of Mexico!

Guacamole

 

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Guacamole is one of those dishes that will never go out of style. In fact, the modern day recipe for guacamole is almost exactly the same as the one used by the Aztecs. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

Twitter@tacosdesvelado

Fun Fact:

Guacamole was actually believed to be a potent aphrodisiac by the Aztecs. With lots of garlic, chile, and lime, it does have everything you need to rev that circulation up!

Quesadillas

Twitter@tacosdesvelado

Quesadillas are a staple all over Mexico. But many don’t know that the stringy “Oaxacan” style cheese used in them was actually introduced by Dominican monks from Spain. Other ingredients, especially pork, were also introduced at later times.

Twitter@ElPelonTaqueria

Fun Fact: 

Quesadillas can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner, and also as an in between meals snack! While flour tortillas are more common in the USA, most parts of Mexico prefer corn tortillas.

Flan

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The history of Mexico’s most famous dessert actually goes all the way back to ancient Rome. A custard made from combining eggs and cream and cooking till thick, flan was actually popular all through the middle ages as well. Now a dessert staple in the New World, it’s safe to say that this simple but delicious dish is unstoppable!

Twitter@officialtacobus

Fun Fact: 

While most flans are now cooked in ovens, originally flans were cooked with a flaming paddle just like French Crème Brulee.

Chilaquiles 

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Everyone’s favorite Mexican breakfast dish goes all the way back to Aztec times. Named after “green chiles” in Nahuatl, chilaquiles went through many different transformations along the way through. Ingredients like olives and queso blanco were added later as part of the Colombian exchange – the period of the 1500s and 1600s when foods crossed back and forth between Europe and the New World.

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Fun Fact: 

Many people consider chilaquiles to be an excellent cure for hangover. Try it out and let us know!

Tres Leches

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Made with condensed milk, evaporated milk and heavy cream, tres leches is the decadent delicious dessert that sweet dreams are made of. Even though it’s now popular all over Latin America, nobody is really sure of where it came from. The recipe for this hit were first printed on a Nestle evaporated milk can back in the 1960s which is why it spread far and wide so quickly.

Twitter@sanmatteo

Fun Fact: Tres Leches cake is often topped with whipped cream and fresh fruit, especially strawberries.

Pozole

Twitter@Foodfaye

This hearty stew made with hominy corn also dates back to Aztec times. While it now comes in many different varieties, some sources claim that it was originally made out of the flesh of sacrificed victims! Don’t let that stop you from digging in though, pozole is a true Mexican flavor blast that takes “soup” to a whole other level!

Twitter@JarritoLocoT

Fun Fact:

Pozole comes in three main types: red, green and white. Each type has a very specific flavor and combination of ingredients, but are all based on hominy and are very filling in and of themselves without a main dish!

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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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