Mexican Cuisine’s Rich History

Traditional foods of Mexico offer rich flavors, brilliant colors and a variety of ingredients, and they don’t deserve the spicy reputation.

| April 2, 2010

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico – The history of Mexican food is long and distinct. Since before the 1500s, the art of fine Mexican cuisine has been in the making. The foods of Mexico are known for having rich flavors and brilliant colors, and are made from a variety of ingredients. Yet many people shy away from eating Mexican food because they buy into the myth that it is mainly a spicy cuisine.

“When people visit from the United States and try the food here, they are always pleasantly surprised,” says Laurena Martini, executive chef of the Puerto Vallarta Beach Club, a new private boutique resort located on Los Muertos Beach along the Mexican Riviera. “They come in, somehow, believing it is going to be spicy and hard to digest, but they leave loving our food and wondering why it took them so long to discover it.”  

If you have been shying away from trying Mexican foods, now is the time to give it a try. After all, most people like chocolate, and it was first a part of Mexican cuisine. While, over the years, Mexican cuisine has borrowed from other countries around the world, those other countries have also been inspired by the styles and ingredients that Mexico is known for. Today, Mexican food still follows many of its original traditions, including the frequent use of corn, beans, avocado, tomato and tomatillo.

Some of the best-known and most popular Mexican dishes are Oaxaca’s famous black mole, the popular pozole, or chiles rellenos. There are also a variety of tasty salsas, used for topping these dishes. Traditional Mexican food was cooked in ceramic pots or cast-iron skillets over an open fire. Much of the food was either steamed or fried, as it is today.

A trip to the local market is an explosion of sensory experiences where exotic fruit, vegetables, chilies, nuts, meats and seafood are found in stunning displays set up daily by the local vendors. Every state in Mexico has a distinctive cuisine based on climate, traditions and local produce, but, one thing is certain, beans, corn, tortillas and rice staple foods can be found everywhere from the family run “cenadurias” to fine dining restaurants.

The famous black mole sauce of Oaxaca has more than 50 different spices and chilies ground into a paste with dark cocoa beans to create a delicious semi-sweet sauce for chicken or turkey, which is then lightly sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds. The stuffed Poblano chilies (chiles rellenos) – lightly coated in egg batter and filled with cheese or meat and deep fried and laden with a tangy tomato and oregano sauce – are a treat that many people love.

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