Traditional Foods of Mexico
Chicken slowly simmered in chocolate sauce is just one of the gourmet dishes that is a part of ethnic Mexican cuisine.
Known as mole, this thick sauce is nothing like the traditional Mexican salsa as it is poured over turkey (traditional), chicken or beef to intensify the flavors. Mole is a very labor intensive dish and can contain over 30 ingredients such as chiles, garlic, onion, and nuts. Because of the amount of work required to make a good mole, including grinding up seeds, nuts, and chiles by hand, makes it hard to find, and almost unknown, outside of Mexico. Oaxaca has the reputation as Mexico’s best state for mole, and is called the “land of seven moles”, the most famous is mole negro, which uses pumpkin seeds, six kinds of chile, chile seeds, almonds, raisins, tomato, garlic, onions, plantains, chocolate, and a variety of spices and other ingredients. Puebla is another state famous for their version of mole. Mole Poblano de Guajolote (Puebla-Style Turkey Mole) is considered the National dish of Mexico. The village of San Pedro Atocpan near Mexico City has a Festival del Mole, the National Mole Fair, held each October and it is one of the most popular food events in the country.
How is the Mexican national dish of mole made?
Usually cooked for special occasions such as a birth or wedding, the sauce comes in different varieties according to its ingredients. For example, mole de cacahuete is simply made from peanuts and chilies, while Green mole is colored with tomatillos, green chiles and fresh herbs like cilantro.
However, mole is not the only choice for regional dishes to sample.
Central Mexico is known for its barbacoa, a whole sheep slow-roasted over an open fire, or the traditional way of roasting in a hole covered with maguey leaves. Also the soup menudo, made with cow stomach and a clear broth in which onions, cilantro, and lime are added. Try the birria (goat with spicy tomato sauce) in Jalisco, or the seafood prepared a la veracruzana in Southeastern Mexico.
Street food is another popular category of cuisine to try for the authentic Mexican experience.
Roasted peanuts sprinkled with lime juice and spices is a healthy snack loaded with protein. Corn in a cup or on the cob and dressed up with mayonnaise, chili powder, and limes is another street food delicacy. Then there is the chalupa, which is a deep fried tortilla with onions, flavored with a red and green sauce. And for dessert, a dish that is high on the list of street foods is the churro sweetened with sugar.
The person who likes to eat on the lighter side will also find plenty of food to choose from when traveling throughout Mexico. A chunky salsa chock full of tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and garlic, pico de gallo is a favorite among the vegetarian crowd.
And those who like the traditional taco can readily order one encased in either a flour or corn tortilla, and filled with anything from plain vegetables to seafood, chicken, turkey, beef, or carnitas.
A big appetite will certainly be satisfied when eating Mexican street food or national dishes, and don’t forget to try their tequila!