There are very few of us who haven’t tried tacos, enchiladas, or nachos. After all, these tasty Mexican treats are readily available in most US neighborhoods. They are a mere tip of the iceberg, however, as Mexico has a huge number of dishes and ingredients, as well as preparation methods. In fact, Mexican cuisine has been recognized by UNESCO as a part of intangible cultural heritage. With this in mind, Here are some fascinating facts about Mexican cooking guaranteed to blow your mind.
It is said that Mexican cuisine originated with the Aztecs and Mayan Indians. As time went by, the cuisine incorporated local Mexican produce such as avocados, tomatoes and corn. Mexican cuisine also evolved with the Spanish colonization – the Spaniards infused Mexican cuisine with their own cooking styles and flavor preferences. In terms of ingredients, Mexican cuisine is a real blend of countries, continents and cultures, from African spices to rice, which is a staple in Asia.
It’s Good for You
This may come as a surprise to some, but authentic Mexican fare is actually healthy. “Rice, dairy, beans, vegetables and spices are all full of vitamins and minerals. Mexican fare also offers a healthy mix of carbs and protein,” says Food Expert from MONEDEROSMART Aline Moura. “Authentic Mexican dishes are also relatively low in fats and calories. It is important to remember that we are not talking about Tex-Mex cuisine, which has a bad rap due to not-so-healthy additions such as refried means, fried tortillas and melted cheese.”
An Oldie but a Goodie
Dating back over 8,000 years to the Aztecs and Mayans, tamales is one of Mexico’s oldest dishes. Tamales are made from masa or dough wrapped in a corn or banana leaf before being steamed. Since the masa or dough become firmer once steam, they are quite easy to eat on the go. Alternatively, the corn or banana leaf can be unwrapped and used as a make-shift plate.
The Story of Margarita
OK, so margaritas are not food. Nevertheless, they can be consumed, come from Mexico and have an interesting story. It is said that the first margarita was concocted in 1938 by Carlos “Danny” Herrera at his restaurant Rancho La Gloria in Baja California for a showgirl named Marjorie King who was allergic to most spirits other than tequila. The first margarita recipe was published in the Esquire in 1953, and called for an ounce of tequila, juice of half a lime or lemon and a dash of triple sec.
The Beginnings of Nachos
One of Mexico’s most beloved dishes, nachos were invented by Ignacio “Nacho” Araya who came up with the dish on the spot for a group of U.S. military wives at the Victory Club in Piedras Negras in 1949. As the restaurant had already closed for the day and the wives were hungry, Ignacio whipped up an impromptu meal using leftover ingredients in the kitchen and called his creation Nacho’s Especialies.