Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Cuisine of Mexico
Mexican cuisine is a style of food that originated in Mexico.
Mexican cuisine is known for its intense and varied flavors, colorful decoration, and the variety of spices that it has. Mexican gastronomy, in terms of diversity of appealing tastes and textures, is one of the richest in the world, rich in proteins, vitamins, and minerals, though some people characterize it as greasy and excessively spicy.
When Spanish conquistadores arrived in the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan (on the ruins of which Mexico City was built), they found that the local people's diet consisted of corn-based dishes with herbs, usually complemented with beans. Later on, the conquistadores added to the indigenous foods of pre-Columbian Mexico (including chocolate, maize, the tomato, and vanilla) the rice, beef, and wine that they brought with them from Spain. The totopo (a deep-fried chip of corn tortilla) may have been created as part of this cuisine.
Most of today's Mexican cuisine is based on Native American traditions, including the Aztecs and Maya, combined with culinary trends introduced by Spanish colonists. The famous quesadilla, for instance, is a corn tortilla with cheese, beef, chicken, pork, etc. The indigenous part of this and many other traditional foods is the chile pepper. Foods like these tend to be very colorful because of the rich variety of vegetables (among them red peppers, green peppers, chiles, broccoli, cauliflower, and radishes) and meats in Mexian food.
Mexican food varies by region, because of ethnic differences among the indigenous inhabitants and because these different populations were influenced by the Spaniards in varying degrees. The north of Mexico is known for its beef production and meat dishes; southeastern Mexico, on the other hand, is known for its spicy vegetable and chicken-based dishes.
Foods that are part of the Mexican culinary tradition include:
- aguas frescas
- atole or champurrado
- chicharrón and chicharrones
- chiles en nogada
- chiles rellenos
- cochinita pibil
- caldo de queso
- crema de trigo
- pico de gallo
- refried beans
- sopa azteca
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