Setting the Record Straight

After studying and living in Mexico for a year, Erin shares what she learned about what Mexican food really is…

For those of you who love a good basket of chips and queso alongside a chimichanga or a flour tortilla soft taco, it is time to set the record straight that this is considered regional Tex-Mex food.  Mexico is a country rich in gastronomy, each state having a particular dish that is known to the region.  However, one thing is for sure: no meal is complete without lime and spicy salsa.

Living two blocks from school and a 15 minute walk from downtown, I had prime location to many street vendors and delicious restaurants.  Down the street from my house in the mornings conveniently was stationed a lady that sold tamales of various flavors such as green sauce, chicken, chili, strawberry, and to drink atole, a traditional hot Mexican drink with flavors including chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, rice, and coffee.  I loved to start my mornings off with a tasty tamal and cup of atole on my way to school.  Or if I happened to be feeling rather healthy that particular morning, I could always get a cup of fresh squeezed orange and mandarin juice!

Puebla is a city with rich foods and tradition within its gastronomy.  Some typical plates originating in Puebla include the chile en nogada, mole poblano, and cemitas. Mole poblano is a sauce blended with various types of chiles and chocolate poured on top of chicken and rice.  Much an acquired taste, as mole poblano is very distinct for those who have never tried it.  Chile en nogadas consist of a filled poblano chile topped with a nut sauce and pomegranates. It’s a seasonal dish typically eaten during the months of August and September.  As for cemitas, these are large sandwiches filled with chicken, potatoes, beans, nopal, and guacamole.  Cemitas can be seen sold all over town out of large baskets, particularly in Puebla by the bus terminal.

The staple food in Mexico is tacos, but not quite the tacos with which we are familiar.  The most frequented taco stand near my house made their tacos with corn tortillas and your choice between carne asada, similar to a thin steak, or chorizo, a spicy sausage, along with onions, red or green sauce, and guacamole if you so please. Accompanying radishes with the tacos are also common to calm the spiciness. As always, these tacos are made fresh to order up until the wee hours of the night.  So, next time you are craving a burrito with chips and salsa, remember this is tex-mex your taste buds are desiring, not Mexican food.

By: Erin Chancey

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