What is Authentic Mexican Food?
Gran Luchito is very proud of its authentic Mexican flavour.
But what exactly is authentic Mexican cuisine and how does it differ from what’s on offer elsewhere?
A typical street scene in Mexico. Image courtesy of Razi Marysol Machay
You’d be forgiven for thinking that all they eat in Mexico are burritos, fajitas and tacos made with white wheat tortillas all washed down by a Corona with an obligatory lime in its neck. However, much of what we consider classic Mexican fare has in fact been seriously lost in translation. This country’s ‘bread and butter’ is much more interesting.
That’s not to say you can’t find authentic Mexican food outside of Mexico. No. There are plenty of restaurants offering dishes much closer to what can be called traditional and genuine than ever before.
So what is authentic Mexican food?
Tortillas being cooked. Image courtesy of Alon Banks
Eaten with almost everything, most tortillas you’ll find in Mexico are made with corn rather than the wheat versions common in the UK. Made from two uneven layers to give a clear ‘inside’ and ‘outside’, the harder-to-find handcrafted variety is, needless to say, superior to the machine-made option. Don’t be surprised to see a few different colours, ranging from yellow to blue or purple, depending on the corn used.Typical Mexican salsas including red, green and pico de gallo. Image courtesy of nathanmac87
Just like tortillas, salsas are eaten with just about every meal in Mexico. Street stalls will always offer a range of delicious choices with staples including green salsa, made with tomatillos; red salsa, made with fresh tomatoes; Pico de gallo (rooster’s beak) made with fresh tomato, chilli & coriander; and, of course, guacamole made with lovely ripe avocados.
Tacos come in many shapes and sizes. Image courtesy of Memphis CVB
At there most brilliantly basic, tacos will come as a few folded corn tortillas filled with beef, lamb or pork pieces, a selection of salsas and some fresh lime pieces. However, there are many variations on this and you could find yourself eating something a little more interesting such as tacos de cabeza (head) or tacos al pastor, where the meat is carved from a doner kebab-style stand called a trompo.
Vegetable versions are also widely available. Think peppers & chillies mixed with cheese, cream and sweetcorn (rajas con queso) or cactus (nopales) and beans (frijoles).
You’ll also see tacos durados (also called flautas as they look like flutes) which are filled corn tortillas (often with chicken) and then deep fried to make them hard and crispy.
Quesadillas are often topped with salsa. Image courtesy of Nicolas Lundgaard
A very simple and delicious little snack where tortillas are filled with cheese before being fried.
Beans & Rice:
Two very common foods served in Mexico. Beans are usually refried, cooked with oil, onion and a little salt. They are not as sweet as those often found in the UK. Rice is served white (cooked in chicken stock & onion) or red (with tomato puree).
Sopes are thicker and softer than tortillas.
Tostadas & Sopes:
Tostadas are corn tortillas which have been left to crisp-up on the comal on which they are cooked. A tasty cracker-like food which gets topped with almost anything. Similar to a tortilla, sopes are softer and thicker and are frequently served with beans, sour cream, salsa, shredded lettuce and sometimes meat.
There is a wide variety of moles, often sold in markets as pastes. Image courtesy of David Bóte Estrada
Moles are popular traditional Mexican chilli-based sauces, and like most things in Mexico due to its size, there are many regional variations. The most well-known are those from the southern regions of Oaxaca and Puebla. Moles are notorious for their complexity to make and the high number of ingredients used to make them.
Have you been to Mexico, or maybe you just love authentic Mexican food. Tell us your favourite dish below.