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g Mexican Food Site

BellaOnline's Mexican Food Editor

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Regional Specialities

Traditional Mexican dishes from all over the country

An insectivore in Oaxaca star
Oaxaca´s famed gastronomy is complex and varied, and the cooking and eating of insects dates back to pre-hispanic times: grasshoppers, caterpillars and ants´ eggs are some of the local specialities.

Breakfast in Mexico – Huevos Motuleños Recipe star
The “Eggs from Motul” always strike me as a strange dish, featuring some very disparate ingredients – but the end result, although it does look rather messy, is rich and savoury, breakfast or brunch at its best.

Broth from Tlalpan Recipe star
The pre-Hispanic village of Tlalpan has been gobbled up by Mexico City, becoming a suburb of the capital. It does however have a number of charms to recommend it and boasts a modest gastronomic standing, particularly for its nationally renowned Caldo Tlalpeño or broth from Tlalpan.

Cajeta - sweet, sickly and hopelessly calorific star
Cajeta is a delectable, utterly addictive, caramelised goat´s milk concoction, as Mexican as you can get, and while it may not benefit the waistline, its intensely deep, comforting sweetness is undoubtedly soothing to the soul!

Ceviche Recipe star
Raw fish marinated in citrus juice is a traditional way of preparing seafood, found all along the coast of Mexico, and Latin America generally. The sharp, acid fluid effectively “cooks” the flesh without ruining the soft, delicate texture.

Cookbook Review - Zarela´s Veracruz star
Zarela Martínez, chef, restaurateur and food writer, is highly skilled at bringing to life the spirit and magic of her native land. She writes about Mexico itself and its people with love, passion and boundless enthusiasm – and herein, for me, lie the great appeal and power of her cookery books.

From Poldark to Pachuca - a pasty´s journey star
The Cornish pasty is a stalwart of British gastronomy, steeped in tradition, history and folklore. However, it has travelled widely, following the Cornish tin miners across the globe, and in the 19th century, it reached Mexico and the silver mines of Pachuca and Mineral del Monte.

Green Pozole Recipe star
Pozole is a popular fiesta food, served at celebrations, but national holidays also provide an excellent excuse, particularly 5 de Mayo or 5th May, a date which commemorates the Battle of Puebla in 1862 when a small, poorly equipped, hopelessly outnumbered Mexican army routed the French invaders.

Jícama, the Mexican turnip star
Brown, bulbous and rather hirsute, Pachyrrhizus Erosus has little to offer in the way of glamour, but it is an important member of the Mexican larder, both ancient and modern.

Lenten cooking in Mexico - Chilpachole star
Chilpachole is a spicy stew or thick soup traditionally made with prawns or crab, eaten often during Lent or La Cuaresma. Although it is very typical of the cooking of Veracruz, it is served all along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico and ranges from utter simple to downright luxurious.

Lenten Cooking in Mexico - Gratin of Crab Recipe star
With the arrival of Lent, La Cuaresma, Mexican cooks’ focus turns towards fish and vegetables. Jaiba Gratinada, or gratin of crab, is a typical Veracruzano dish, and while it is very popular during the Lenten period, its savouriness and richness has nothing to do with abstinence!

Lenten Cooking in Mexico - Salt Cod Recipe star
Salt cod…. It does not sound appetising, nor does it look particularly attractive. But throughout the Christian world, it makes a regular appearance during Lent, and while it has a dubious reputation – hard, stringy, chewy, briny, horribly saline – when treated well it is utterly delicious.

Mackerel Veracruz style star
The bustling port of Veracruz on the Gulf of Mexico is a melting pot of culinary influences and much of its cuisine is based on the local fish, the most famous being Pescado a la Veracruzana, a perfect example of the blending of Old and New World ingredients.

Mexican Antojitos - Chilaquiles star
According to an old Mexican wives’ tale, chilaquiles are an excellent cure for a hangover, but excess consumption of tequila aside, chilaquiles are the most comforting of foods, satisfying, rib-sticking, deeply flavoured and very good for the soul.

Mexican Antojitos - Gorditas star
Gorditas: little plump ones.... The name alone evokes gastronomic comfort and joy and the endless delight of Mexican antojitos. There are many ways to prepare a gordita but its main characteristic is that it balloons and puffs up as it cooks, producing a wonderfully crisp crust.

Mexican Antojitos - Papadzules star
Papadzules are one of the specialities of the southern state of Yucatán, typically served at breakfast in the markets and on the streets. The word translates as “food of the lords”, a grand name indeed, but it is in fact a very simple dish with a subtle complexity of the flavours and textures.

Mexican Antojitos - Sopes star
The “sope” family is vast and convoluted, difficult to track, but whatever a sope’s origin, regional designation or topping may be, it is definitely a member of the clan. Name aside, it is simply a container or tartlet made of masa which acts as a base or plate for a delicious, savoury topping.

Mexican Antojitos - Tacos star
Tacos are perhaps the best known Mexican dish outside the country, and the simplest to prepare. The easiest way to describe them is as a corn tortilla wrapped around a filling – but this does not even begin to illustrate their diversity and exuberance, let alone their potential for complexity.

Mexican Antojitos - Yucatecan Codzitos Recipe star
To “codz” is to roll and the Yucatecan codzitos are to all intents and purposes what the rest of Mexico calls a taco, or more specifically a taco dorado, golden taco, one which has been fried until it is deeply coloured and wonderfully crunchy.

Mexican Meatballs Recipe star
Meatballs are a global favourite, and recipes for them abound. There are of course countless ways of making them, some very regional like the one below, some virtually international. Certain additions however do seem to be very Mexican, which contribute to their specific texture and flavours.

Mexican Rice with Chicken Recipe star
The rice came from the Far East, sailing across the Pacific aboard the Manila Galleons, while chickens arrived in Mexico from Europe, courtesy of the great Spanish Fleet. To these were added Mexican tomatoes and chillies, and today Arroz con Pollo is to be found throughout the country’s kitchens.

Mexican Salpicón of Beef Recipe star
A salad, a filling for tacos, quesadillas, poblano chillies or even empanadas, a topping for tostadas and a stuffing for large fish – the Mexican “salpicón” is versatile and multi-faceted, fresh, light, tangy and boldly flavoured.

Mexico´s Regional Gastronomies - Veracruz star
The “Jarochos” of Veracruz are as colourful as their cuisine and their turbulent history. Their territory is long, thin and faintly curved, rather like a green chilli; there are volcanoes, rainforests, steamy coastal plains, differing climates, tropical fruit plantations and smoke-dried chillies.

Mexico´s Regional Gastronomies - Yucatán star
The Yucatán´s early isolation noticeably influenced its culture and of course its food. It was not until the 20th century that real communication by rail and road was established with the Mexican capital, and the strongest commercial and cultural connections were created along sea routes.

Mexico´s Regional Gastronomy star
The roots of Mexico’s cuisine reach deep down into its ancient cultures and indigenous ingredients, and Mexican cookery in the 21st century is the result not only of the geography of the country itself but also of its rich and turbulent history, both pre- and post-Hispanic.

Mixiotes, a Mexican “en papillote” star
The name mixiote is derived from the Aztec Náhuatl language: metl, meaning maguey, and xiotl, skin of the arm, and applies both to the “envelope” and the dish itself. It is simple and very pre-Hispanic, consisting of meat slathered in a spicy sauce and wrapped in the afore-mentioned xiotl.

Oxtail in Oaxacan Coloradito Recipe star
Oaxaca’s Mole Coloradito is a splendid partner to braised oxtail – a rich, bold and spicy combination.

Peanut Brittle Recipe from Veracruz star
The Aztecs called the peanut tlalcacahuatl or cacao of the earth as it grows underground, and in the state of Veracruz, it makes an appearance in a variety of guises, Palanquetas de Cacahuate, or peanut brittle, among them.

Plantain Crisps Recipe star
Un tostón = fifty centavos. I do not believe that the tostón of my childhood still exists, but it was a lovely coin, with an Aztec head on one side and the Mexican eagle and snake on the reverse. My only experience of a tostón nowadays is not gastronomic, as the name of a Mexican Caribbean snack.

Prawn Turnovers Veracruz Style Recipe star
The word empanada translates as breaded and therefore implies the use of bread or at least a dough made of wheat. When it comes to the very Veracruzana Empanada de Camarón, however, a pre-Columbian dough made of corn (and a bit of post-Hispanic flour) provides the wrapping.

Prawns in Garlic Sauce Recipe star
There are versions of mojo throughout Latin America, and in Mexico, Mojo de Ajo or simply Garlic Sauce is very garlicky indeed, bright with lime juice and rich with butter. All along the coast, both Pacific and Gulf, it is a regular and oh so delicious partner to fresh prawns and shrimp.

Sweet Mexico - Piloncillo star
“Little pylon” or piloncillo is rich and dark, with a deep, seductive, almost chocolatey aroma of caramel which is utterly addictive. Inhale for longer and you pick up a faint smokiness as well as a floral syrupiness - it might also remind you of white sand beaches and brawny Caribbean rum!

Sweet Mexico - Poor Gentlemen Recipe star
The dashingly named Poor Gentlemen of Yucatán are close relatives of Eggy Bread, French Toast and Torrejas, and however they found their way into the gastronomy, their legacy is an excellent way to use up old bread and the overall sweetness, far from being off-putting, is downright addictive.

Tacos of Achiote-marinated Pork Carnitas Recipe star
Achiote, a spice blend based on annatto seeds, is one of the most recognizable flavours of southern Mexican cuisine and finds its way into countless regional dishes including Yucatecan pork carnitas: rich and succulent, hot, sweet and sharp, wrapped in a warm corn tortilla with a sparkling salsa.

Tacos of Oven-roasted Achiote Carnitas Recipe star
Achiote, a spice blend based on annatto seeds, is one of the most recognizable flavours of southern Mexican cuisine and finds its way into countless regional dishes including Yucatecan pork carnitas. Slow-roast belly of pork, basted with an achiote marinade, makes wonderfully succulent carnitas.

The Chillies of Mexico - El Habanero star
Mexican Food Site Isabel Hood BellaOnline´s Mexican Food Editor Culture and History The history of Mexican food - a melting pot of pre- and post- hispanic influences, ingredients and cooking methods A pot of beans No Mexican kitchen is ever without its bubbling earthenware cazuela of frijoles – beans are an integral part of everyday life and food. They are utterly earthy, true Mexican food for the soul, wholesome, soothing, satisfying. An Insectiv

The chillies of Mexico - El Pasilla star
Pasilla translates as “little raisin”, which is an obvious indicator of its flavour: faintly sweet and reminiscent of dried fruit, even of sun-dried tomatoes, quite earthy, even woodsy or herby, with a hint of sharpness and acidity in the background, and a lush, full aftertaste.

The Drinks of Mexico - Barley Water Recipe star
In the steamy, tropical climate of the Yucatán Peninsula, a chilled agua fresca or fresh water like the typical and regional Agua de Cebada or barley water is heaven in a glass.

The Drinks of Mexico - Fruit Cooler Recipes star
On a hot day, Mexico’s aguas frescas or fresh waters are a taste of heaven. They are not as dense and rich as an actual juice, as water is often added to give the required lightness and breezy zest and there are countless varieties on offer.

The herbs of Mexico - Epazote star
Epazote grows wild in Mexico and spread from there across America and eventually to southern Europe and beyond, but outside its homeland, it is seen as a weed rather than a culinary herb – only in central and southern Mexico does it play an essential role and find its way into the cooking pot.

The Sauces of Mexico - Mole star
The Aztecs called it “molli” or “mulli”. In their Náhuatl language, it simply meant sauce or mixture. For the Spaniards, who encountered it in its countless versions in the cooking pots of the great market place of Tenochtitlán, it became “mole”, the name which it still bears today.

The Sauces of Mexico - Oaxacan Coloradito star
Oaxaca’s Mole Coloradito is much bigger than its name which translates quite simply as Little Coloured Sauce, or Little Red Sauce. Habitually referred to as just Coloradito, it is life-sized and powerful, gutsy and spicy, rich and deep.

The sauces of Mexico - Recado star
The “recado”, like the ubiquitous “adobo”, is not really a sauce, but a spice and herb blend or paste used to flavour meat, fish or vegetables before cooking, and is a particular speciality of the Yucatán peninsula.

The Sauces of Mexico - Salsa Borracha Recipe star
The blue-grey maguey, with its wavy, fleshy arms spiked with sharp thorns, is an indelible feature of the Mexican landscape and the source of a mildly alcoholic, pre-Hispanic drink known as pulque. The sweet sap of the plant has been fermented for millennia to produce something akin to beer.

The Sauces of Mexico - Yucatecan Salsa Xnipec star
The Mayas’ nose of the dog has a rich sting, with the local habanero chilli providing unequivocal fire and brimstone. Salsa Xnipec is to the Yucatán Peninsula what Salsa Cruda is to the rest of the country: the most popular and traditional table sauce, served at virtually every meal.

The Sauces of Mexico - Yucatecan Sikil Paak star
Rich and creamy with pumpkin seeds, spicy with roasted chillies and fresh with the juice of the very local sour orange, naranja agria, the Mayas’ Sikil Paak is one of the Yucatán’s great specialities.

The Spanish Influence in Mexican Cuisine star
The discovery of the Americas resulted in the dissemination throughout Europe of a multitude of hitherto unknown crops. But just as many Mexican foodstuffs crossed the Atlantic and were introduced to Europe, so too did non-American ingredients make their way back in the opposite direction.

The Spices of Mexico - Achiote star
The talents and versatility of the Americas’ “poor man’s saffron” are manifold, from body paint and cosmetics to insect repellent and food colouring.

The spices of Mexico - Cumin star
“Comino” is one of the countless gastronomic immigrants which travelled to Mexico aboard the Spanish galleons and landed on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico - more likely than not in the port of Veracruz, where it made itself very much at home and was willingly absorbed into the local cuisine.

Tortas, part of every day Mexican life star
Tortas are an institution in Mexico, a part of every day life and an essential constituent of Mexican cuisine – there are even annual festivals in their honour. They are eaten by everybody at any time, and “torterías” are found on virtually every street corner.

Tostadas from Guadalajara Recipe star
Mexico’s second largest city, Guadalajara, is home to Los Tapatíos, as its residents are known. They are very keen on their food and the local cuisine is rich and savoury, with noticeable pre-Columbian and post-Hispanic roots.

Veracruz - Arroz a la Tumbada star
The Spaniards brought rice – most likely from Europe or perhaps from Asia aboard the legendary Manila Galleons – and the rich coast of Veracruz provided the seafood for one of the state’s most renowned dishes: Arroz a la Tumbada, Tumbled Rice

Veracruz - Black Gorditas Recipe star
The cafés around the Plaza de Armas in the port of Veracruz do a roaring trade at breakfast time, with the state’s famous Gorditas Negras flying out of the frying pan and onto the tables as fast as they can puff up.

Veracruz - Camarones Enchipotlados Recipe star
Langostinos or Camarones Enchipotlados are one of Veracruz’s most classical and typical seafood dishes, partnering the very “Jarocho” chipotle chilli with the fabulously seafood caught in the river waters as they flow into the sea.

Veracruz - Chicken Tlatonile Recipe star
Italian immigrants in the late 19th century undoubtedly left some kind of culinary legacy, but the gastronomy of the town of Huatusco is founded not on pasta and pizza but on ants and more particularly on the famous local “tlatonile”, a “mole” based on ancho chillies and sesame seeds.

Veracruz - El Torito Cocktail Recipe star
Little Bull, the Jarochos’ favourite tipple, packs a powerful punch. Based on heady fire water and tinned milk, both evaporated and condensed, El Torito is sweet and sickly, yet deeply refreshing – let alone hopelessly moreish and a thirst quencher redolent of warm tropical climes!

Veracruz - Huevos Tirados Recipe star
The “thrown eggs” from Veracruz, scrambled with black beans and topped with fresh cheese and fried plantains, are on offer in every restaurant and food stall in the state – and while they do not look wildly appetising, the texture and flavour more than make up for any shortcomings in appearance.

Veracruz - Mole de Xico star
Veracruz’s best known mole may not be as celebrated as those of other regions but it deserves a hearty accolade. Its flavours are nutty, rich and fruity – even steamy, lush and tropical – and the texture is thick and wonderfully jammy. It is not fast food but very manageable and worth the effort.

Veracruz - Mole de Xico Recipe star
Veracruz’s best known mole may not be as celebrated as those of other regions but it deserves a hearty accolade. Its flavours are nutty, rich and fruity – even steamy, lush and tropical – and the texture is thick and wonderfully jammy. It is not fast food but very manageable and worth the effort.

Veracruz - Molotes a la Veracruzana star
Plump, torpedo-shaped and decidedly carbohydrate rich, the molote’s main characteristic is its pastry, which is more often than not a mixture of pre-Hispanic masa harina or corn flour and post-Conquest wheat flour often with the addition of mashed potatoes or, in Veracruz, mashed cooked plantain.

Veracruz - Molotes a la Veracruzana Recipe star
Plump, torpedo-shaped and decidedly carbohydrate rich, the molote’s main characteristic is its pastry, which is more often than not a mixture of pre-Hispanic masa harina or corn flour and post-Conquest wheat flour often with the addition of mashed potatoes or, in Veracruz, mashed cooked plantain.

Veracruz - Pambazo Recipe star
Tortas, huge, satisfying and nourishing sandwiches, are an essential part of Mexican gastronomic culture. While the bread traditionally used is a flat roll with a good crust known as a telera, in Veracruz a soft doughy roll is preferred for the local and very regional torta, El Pambazo.

Veracruz - Picadas Recipe star
The Veracruzana Picada, like its sister, the Pellizcada, is a very regional member of the vast clan of Mexican antojitos – snacks based on corn, cooked, served and consumed mainly on the streets and in the markets.

Veracruz - Tortillas in Black Bean Sauce Recipe star
Enfrijoladas are a simple formula: stale corn tortillas bathed in a purée of whatever the local bean may be, red, black, white, speckled or tan – it is the food of the home, the market, the countryside, cheap, comforting, soulful - a favourite of street cooks, a truly pre-Hispanic antojito.

Veracruz - White Gorditas Recipe star
The gorditas - little plump ones - of Veracruz are utterly pre-Hispanic, despite being deep fried, and as typical of the state as it comes. The negras which incorporate the local black beans and perhaps some Veracruzano chillies, are the most popular but the blancas are just as time-honoured.

Yucatán - Beans with Pork Recipe star
Variations of pork with beans are found all over Latin America. In the Yucatán Peninsula, the indigenous black beans are used, as well as the fiery habanero chilli which notches up an impressive 10/10 on the heat scale and can cause painful damage if restraint and care are not applied.

Yucatán - Fish Tikin Xic Recipe star
Tikin Xic is an ancient Maya method of preparing fish, featuring local, pre-Hispanic ingredients like chillies, tomatoes and sour oranges, naranjas agrias. One can sometimes still find a truly authentic version, where the fish is wrapped in banana leaves and then baked in a pib or pit.

Yucatán - Kibbeh Recipe star
The late 19th and early 20th centuries saw an influx of Christian immigrants from the Middle East to the Yucatán Peninsula. Fleeing religious persecution under the Ottoman Empire, they brought traditional ingredients and dishes of their homelands which have been absorbed into Yucatecan cuisine.

Yucatán - Pollo Pibil Recipe star
The historical Mayan pib is a pit, dug deep in the earth; it acts as an oven, heated with hot stones and wood, both green and dead, and is an ancient method of cooking very typical of the Yucatán Peninsula. Anything cooked in it is described as pibil, meaning buried.

Yucatán - Yellow Rice Recipe star
Rice which has been dyed yellow by whatever means is popular throughout Latin America. The colouring medium is usually saffron or turmeric but the Yucatecos’ Arroz Amarillo or Yellow Rice is different in that it involves the very indigenous and even regional ingredient Annatto or Achiote.

Yucatán - Yucatecan Stuffed Cheese Recipe star
Legends abound concerning this Yucatecan speciality, but whatever Queso Relleno’s origin, it is a very peculiar dish indeed, almost gothic, the type of fusion food which is difficult to understand without tasting it. Nonetheless, the end result is balanced, comprehensible and utterly delicious.

Yucatán – Black Rice Recipe star
Sinister and rather sullen looking, the Yucatecans’ Arroz Negro is cooked in the broth of the local black beans, which gives it a wonderfully earthy, mellow flavour. The colour is frankly muddy rather than actual black but once you taste it, you will forget about its appearance.

Yucatán – Venison Salpicón Recipe star
The Maya hunted a small, red deer which they cooked with aromatic sauces boldly flavoured with chillies and often thickened with seeds or nuts – moles and pipianes. In modern times, domestication has enabled this species of venison to remain a traditional Yucatecan dish.

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