Wednesday, April 8, 2009

What is in a Typical Mexican Meal?

By KC Kudra

Mexican cuisine is known for its colorful presentation and healthy qualities. Home to the Aztecs, Mayans and Zapotecs, Mexico developed a strong agricultural civilization early. They grew many foods like avocados, peppers, beans, corn, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and squash. They hunted for deer, turkey, rabbit, and quail. Chocolate is grown in Mexico, and was originally served as a drink to Aztec royalty.

When the Spanish arrived in Mexico, they brought their favorite foods with them. Pork, beef, cheese, and cream were added and combined with the native foods. The Spanish brought sheep, chickens, wheat, and sugar. Three hundred years later when Spain finally gave up control of Mexico, their influence on Mexican food was well established.

A major component of the typical Mexican meal is corn. Masa, or cornmeal, is made into dough that is then used for empanadas, tamales, and tortillas. Corn is also used in stews, soups, and other traditional foods. In northern Mexico, tortillas are usually made of flour instead of corn. Chili peppers also are an important staple in the Mexican diet. They frequently choose jalapeno, Serrano and poblano chilies.

Beans are an important part of Mexican cuisine and it provides a lot of protein. Each region has their own favorite bean. For instance, pinto beans are favored in the north, while black beans are the bean of choice on the Yucatan. Beans are used in soups, as side dishes like frijoles, and as filling.

Other regional favorites in Mexico include beef in the north, due to the vast grazing lands; coffee and corn stew on the Pacific Coast; and seafood, fish and tropical fruits on the Gulf Coast. Central Mexico has the most Spanish influence due to the fact that this is where most of the Spanish settled. The Yucatan Peninsula is known for its shellfish, seafood, and black beans. Herbs are used all over Mexico.

If you want to try making an authentic Mexican meal at home, there are many recipes online to try. Mexican rice recipe are easy and delicious. They are a good dish to start out with. Once you have tried making rice (arroz in Mexico), you will find yourself adding it to your menu frequently.

Do not be afraid to experiment and try new things. A new variety of bean may add a different texture or flavor to your meal. Serve tortillas and salsa with a meal, or try something completely new like ceviche. Even the kids can get busy in the kitchen and make quesadillas or tacos.

For something different, try a Mexican breakfast. Mix some tropical fruit in a bowl for an easy meal. Scramble some eggs and salsa for heurvos rancheros. Alternatively, you can top a tortilla with an egg and add some bacon or ham, chilies, tomatoes and cheese. Serve it with some refried beans for a traditional breakfast.

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