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HRM 204: International Cookery

MEXICAN CUISINE Group 5 BSHRM 3A

MEXICAN CUISINE
Mexico is a large country that connects United States and is the northern neighbor of Central America. Mexico stretches from the North to South more than 2000 miles and shares border with the USA that is almost 2200 miles long. The Gulf of Mexico extends along the eastern edge of Mexico until the Caribbean region on the eastern side of the Yucatan Peninsula. Majority of the ethnic group are Mestizos (60%) and Native American (30%).

Topography and Climate Mexico has had a limited agricultural productivity because of arid conditions and terrain that are not readily cultivated. Many farmers operate at subsistence level with corn, beans and some rice and wheat. At the higher elevations around the Mexico City are fertile lands suitable for growing many kinds of vegetables like chilies, tomatoes, potatoes and squash. Some livestock are raised in the north and sugarcane is grown successfully in low area along the Gulf of Mexico. Other produce in the tropical lowlands are avocados, guavas, limes, papaya, cacao beans and vanilla.

Religion Nearly 90% are Roman Catholics; many are devout followers who celebrate religious festivities with the family and community members. Mexican Christmas and Lenten season are the most important holidays.

Food Ways Food culture in many parts of the country are still Indian, despite the influence of the conquistadores who arrived in Mexico looking for gold and pepper in the 1500s. The Indians of Mexico were living on a diet composed largely of thin flat cornmeal bread, which the Spanish called tortillas (little cakes), a variety of beans and squashes and sauces made of tomatoes and chili peppers (Capsicum peppers). After its importation into Europe, the fresh tomato was integrated as a fundamental culinary element in many of the cuisines of Europe, the Mediterranean, and the Middle East.

HRM 204: International Cookery


MEXICAN CUISINE Group 5 BSHRM 3A

In addition to corn beans and squashes, tomato and peppers the settlers from the New World and Europe introduced chocolate, vanilla, peanuts, potatoes, avocadoes and turkey. The corn and beans forms the basis of the Mexican diet and they are eaten together at almost every meal, prepared in myriads of ways using various methods and seasonings.

Mexican Spices and Seasonings The chili pepper is still the cornerstone of Mexican seasoning practice. There are literally hundreds of varieties used with all kinds of dishes, from soups to nuts. Of the red, green, yellow and orange chilies, some are violently pungent, others are mild and sweet. They may be fresh, dried, powdered or pickled. There are also many varieties of tomatoes: eaten green, fresh, or cooked into sauce. Dried tomatoes are also popular. Of the many foods introduced by the Spanish to Mexico, the most widely accepted are wheat, rice, beef and dairy products, pork and chicken. The Spanish also brought with them the technique, apparently unknown to pre-Columbian Mexico, of rendering fat from meat, and of cooking food in fat or oil. This technique of frying was accepted enthusiastically by the Mexicans, who cooked primarily by slow stewing, or simmering in liquid. The major acid seasoning introduced by the Spanish as he family of citrus fruits like lemon, lime, grapefruit and orange. Two major flavor combinations in Mexican cuisine are: tomatoes-chili pepper and lime-chili. Either pair may be varied with the use of a number of seasoning ingredients: garlic, cinnamon, cumin, oregano, onion, saffron, achiote (annatto), and a variety of seeds and nuts. Fresh coriander leaf is very widely used as garnishing herbs. Culinary influences from Europe, the Caribbean, and South America gave rise to the unique combination or sour orange, and garlic and achiote. The principle is used frequently in Yucatan cuisine when cooking in the ancient earth pit.

Food Choices Staple Foods include corn, beans, rice and chilies. These typically are combined with spices, vegetables, and meats or fish. Some foods and dishes are regional, but others are common throughout the nation. Cornmeal or flour tortillas are eaten everywhere. Other common foods include tortas (hollow rolls stuffed with meat, cheese or beans), quesadillas (tortillas baked or fried with cheese), mole (spicy or sweet sauce served with meat), and tacos (folded tortillas with meat or other filling).

HRM 204: International Cookery


MEXICAN CUISINE Group 5 BSHRM 3A

Popular soups include posole (pork and corn soup), birria (goat soup), and menudo (spicy tripe soup). Enchiladas are tortillas filled with meat and covered in a chili sauce. Tamales are cornmeal dough stuffed with meat and cheese, fruit, or other filling; they are wrapped in corn husk or banana leaf and steamed. The fiery habanero is a specialty of Yucatan, whereas the poblano gets its name from the Puebla. Chillies are used in their dried and fresh states, and there are different names for each form: the dried Poblanos for example, is called chilli ancho. Dried chillies are often rehydrated and ground, for use in stews and thick, complex sauces, like moles, adobos and pipians.

MENU PLANNING Daily meals may consist of soup or salad, main dish, and dessert (postre) Urban professionals often eat meals at restaurants or street side stands Food purchased on the street usually is eaten at the stand where the item was bought It is inappropriate for adults to eat while walking on the streets Spicy food is called picante, while hot (temperature) food is called caliente Picante dishes are often eaten with bland foods such as bread, tortillas, or rice to relieve the burning sensation

PURCHASING FOOD: FONDAS Markets in Mexico are some of the most popular eating places. Among the colourful stalls selling all manner of produce are food stands called fondas Some sell simply drinks such as juice, agues frescas (fruit and water drinks), and frothy licuados (blended milk, sugar, and fruit drinks); other serve substantial cooked dishes, such as soups, roasted meats and beans and tortillas Still others might specialize in masa-based antojitos, such as tacos, enchiladas, and tamales In Puebla most of the fondas at one market are devoted to the local sandwich specialty, cemitas Other market stands sell nieves (ice cream) made with every fruit under the Mexican sun

FOOD WAYS The cuisine of Mexico is a varied as the cuisines of Italy and France. Yet, like French or Italian cooking, no matter what the regional differences are, the food has a national character, everywhere, it is distinctly Mexican It is a large country (about third size of the United States), with no long coastlines bordering on the Pacific to the west and the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean to the east and south With a land of high mountains, deserts, jungles, coastal plains, and plateaus, it is not surprising Mexico has many kinds of produce with a wide spectrum of flavours Together with meats the Spanish settlers brought in (cattle, chickens and hogs) and the Arab traditions that Spaniards inherited from the Moors, Mexican menus are versatile It is hard to imagine Mexican cuisine without the hog, every bit of which is important, from the lard used as a cooking fat, to the skin that is crisp fried and eaten as a snack. Frying is popular in Mexican cooking which is a Spanish legacy

HRM 204: International Cookery


MEXICAN CUISINE Group 5 BSHRM 3A

SIGNATURE DISHES Sopa de tortilla o A Mexican chicken soup topped with chillies, lime juice and cheese Pozole o This hominy soup is either verde (green), with pork, chicken and tomatillos and rojo (red) with pork and dried red chillies Frijoles de la olla o Cooked beans in broth Frijoles refritos o Refried beans are often used to top tostados (toasted tortilla chips) Pescado a la veracruzana o Fish, usually snapper, served in a seasoned tomato sauce Galio en chichi o A dish from El Salvador, also known as Monday rooster as it often uses the losing bird of the Sunday cock fight Rondon o Nicaraguan beef in coconut milk

CHILLIES The variety of chillies in every market in Mexico is tremendous. Different types are popular in different regions The jalapeno and its smoke- dried version, the chipotle, are widely used in the state of Veracruzthe capital of which Jalapa, gives the chilli its name