With the plethora of Mexican restaurants in the U.S., particularly Tex-Mex, you may think you know Mexican cuisine. But the trend of Tex-Mex started in the 1950s, and it combined the flavors of northern Mexican dishes with those of Texas cowboy food. And dishes like fajitas and nachos? They’re things you won’t really find south of the border.
Contemporary Mexican cuisine in the US has seen a resurrection and reinvention, with such celebrity chefs as Rick Bayless, Aarón Sánchez, Enrique Olvera, and the late David Sterling introducing the world to high end, gourmet Mexican cuisine.
The cuisine of Mexico actually has a variety of influences, some that date back centuries, long before the 1950s. The food has been influenced by the likes of the Spainards and French, and looking even further back, the Aztecs.
Today, authentic Mexican dishes vary from region to region, but as with elsewhere in the world, there’s a big emphasis on fresh and simple local ingredients just about everywhere you go. Staples like corn, chiles, and beans are of course prevalent, and you’ll still find plenty of tacos – especially as street food – but travelers will also discover a whole other world of flavors during a Mexican cooking vacation. That’s in large part because of the spices used – especially cinnamon, clove, and cumin – as well as the herbs, particularly cilantro and epazote. Even with all those flavorings, and despite the stereotype, not all dishes are spicy and some can even be quite mild. Condiments, like a variety of salsas, can of course even add a further dimension of flavor.
Of course you’ll find recognizable dishes on the menu while in Mexico, like quesadillas (often ‘stuffed pockets’ packed with cheese among other ingredients), but you’ll find the more unusual too. Let’s just say grasshoppers (chapulines) are one. If your palate isn’t quite that adventurous, you’ll still find plenty to please your particular tastes, like a whole array of delicious moles, as well as plenty of seafood thanks to the miles of beautiful coastline.
Are you ready to discover the gourmet flavors of Mexico? We offer culinary vacations to the Yucatan – a mecca for Mexican gastronomy, the Riviera Maya, and the magical village of Tepoztlan in the state of Morelos.
What’s your favorite gourmet Mexican food dish?
Check out of our favorite Mexican recipes:
- Sopa de fijol negro
- Chiles en nogada
- Pozole rojo
- Chiltomate sauce
- Tacos de mariscos empanizados
- Chef Ana’s Flan
Ready to book your authentic cooking vacation in Mexico? Contact us to get started!
By Liz Hall
Sign up to receive our email newsletter, which includes travel tips, recipes, promotions, and information on our best cooking vacations.