Mexico's kitchen–buen provecho (enjoy your meal)!
The cuisine of Mexico: diverse, creative, colorful, hot, sweet... They say that no other country has more different dishes than Mexico. The Mexicans themselves even claim that there are so many different meals that you could eat something different every day for three years without repeating anything. Is that really true? Despite all our efforts, we have not yet been able to finally check it. But fact is: Mexican cuisine is incredibly delicious!
However, if we take a closer look, dishes that we consider typically Mexican sometime turn out to be 'Tex-Mex' food. For example burritos or chili con carne. Of course, you eat it here too, but it is not typically Mexican!
The main food in this country is corn and it is much more than just food. Corn is also tradition, culture and religion. If you believe the ancient Mayans, then the first human was formed out of corn mass. Corn is the origin of all life and is revered accordingly. Even the Mayans did many things in honor of corn: for example, they formed gemstones in the form of a kernel of corn and put it into their teeth. They do not go that far today, but corn is still the most important food and is served in many different forms, for example tortillas.
Real Mexican classics, and above all easy to prepare, are guacamole, pico de gallo, horchata and many more.
How it works? We'll tell you!
is an avocado dip which is served with taco chips or fajitas. It is prepared differently by every housewife in Mexico, but there is an original recipe (for 4 people):
2 very ripe avocados
1 large or 2 small limes
1 small red onion
salt, pepper and chili
2 small tomatoes
1 chili pod
parsley / coriander
First you peel the onion, chop it up as small as possible and put it in a medium-sized bowl. If you like it more spicy, you can also cut a jalapeno or chili pepper and add it, but you don't have to. Half the ripe avocados, remove the stone and scrape out all of the green pulp with a spoon (remove any brown spots). Mash the avocados in the bowl with a fork and mix it with the onions so that you get a creamy mass. Then immediately crush the lime over it, so the avocado paste does not turn brown. The whole thing is now seasoned with salt, pepper and chili. The guacamole is ready!
Serve them in a smaller bowl, garnished with parsley or coriander leaved and a small slice of tomato.
The dip clearly started its triumphal march around the world in Mexico, where both, avocados and limes, were and are still being grown in heaps. The word guacamole comes from the Nahuatl, an Aztec language that used to be spoken in the valley of Mexico, from the word ahuacamolli, which simply means something like avocado sauce. By the way, guacamole is also very tasty on bread.
One small tip: if you don't like lime in your guacamole, you can leave it out. Since the guacamole turns brown quickly, you simply put the avocado kernels in until just before serving and nothing will discolor. Buen preovecho!
Pico de Gallo
Gallo is also typically Mexican and should not be missing from any buffet or meal. The dish 'disguises' itself as a tomato salad. At first glance it is sometimes not recognizable that there is
another ingredient in addition to tomatoes and onions which gives the whole thing a special taste: coriander! Incidentally, it tastes significantly different here than in Europe.
1 medium tomato, diced
1 onion, finely chopped
1/2 fresh green chili, seeds removed and chopped
2 springs of fresh coriander, finely chopped
1/8 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp pepper
If you like, you can add a splash of lime juice. Serve with totopos (no, the small chips are not called taco chips and also not nachos) and it is ready! If you like it really spicy, you can also add a chili sauce. But be careful, 'spicy' here in Mexico means 'so spicy that you gasp'! Buen provecho!
Horchata - Mexican rice water
is something for those with a sweet tooth and is reminding on something like a liquid rice pudding.Although it is sweet, there is still something very refreshing about it. The preparation is
easy. You need:
1 cup of cleaned rice
2.5 liters of water
1 can of condensed milk
1 can of sweetened condensed milk
a few drops of vanilla extract
1 cinnamon stick
Put the rice in 2.5 liters of water for about one hour. Then put the rice and half a liter of the water in a mixer. Then put in the two cans of condensed milk. Add a little cinnamon and mix.
Put all of this into the rest of the water, mix and pour it trough a fine sieve. Add sugar and vanilla as desired and serve it with ice cubes in a glass. Decorate with a little cinnamon powder. Optional: place a small slice of lime in the glass. Ready!
Rumor has it that Horchata, pepped up with a small alcoholic shot, would also be very tasty. Then it is usually called 'augua loca' - crazy water. Have fun preparing.
Agua de Jamaica - cold hibiscus tea
This delicious and cold soft drink is a tea made from dried hibiscus flowers. In Mexico you can get the flowers in every supermarket, either loose or packaged. The preparation is very easy. You need the 'basic material' for this:
0.5 liters of water
100 grams of sugar
10 grams of dried hibiscus flowers
half a lime
You add the sugar and the hibiscus flowers to the water and let it boil for 5 minutes on a low heat. Then you put it aside and let it steep for about 10 minutes. You pass the liquid trough a sieve so that you can catch the flowers, after all you don't want them to swim in your drink. Then you start diluting by slowly adding cold water up to a liter, depending on your personal taste. Then add the lime and your agua de jamaica is ready. It tastes really refreshing with ice cubes.
Cochinita Pibil (pork) or Pollo Pibil (chicken)
Our guests are always thrilled when we have this on the buffet on our tours. Cochinita Pibil is a pork dish which is typical for Mexico and especially for Yucatan. The term 'pibil' for a dish means that it is traditionally cooked in an earth oven or a hole in the ground which is covered with banana leaves. This method of preparation and slow braising results in a meat which is super tender and has a consistency like pulled prok.
Okay, not everyone has a garden or an earth oven, but you can also use a normal oven. We started looking for a recipe that you can easily cook at home. The ingredients are given for four people. The more exotic ingredients are best found in a Asia store:
2.5 kilos of pork (typically from the shoulder; depending on personal taste, rather stringy and fatty or lean)
5 tablespoons of annatto seeds
2 teaspoons of cumin
1 tablespoon of peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground/crushed garlic or 2 teaspoons of garlic powder
4 dried habanero chilies
125 ml orange juice
125 ml white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons of salt
Tequila (can also be omitted)
Grind the spices well in a bowl. Mix the orange juice with the juice of the squeezed lemons and add it to the spices. Add white wine vinegar, salt, garlic and (is desired) tequila. Mix everything well and the sauce is ready!
You cut the meat into pieces about 5 cm in size and mix them carefully with the sauce, e.g. in a bag so that it is completely covered. You give this mixture in a baking dish lined with banana leaves, and also cover it with banana leaves. Now cover everything with aluminum foil to retain the aroma. Now let the meat stew in the oven for about 3 hours at 160°C. (It is best to put a tin underneath, because a bit of juice will drip down) Mmmmmmmh... it already smells delicious, doesn't it?
Traditionally, cochinita pibil is eaten with corn tortillas. Buen provecho!
Ceviche is a very popular dish in Mexico, Central and South American countries. you can find it on the menus of expensive restaurants, but also in some beach clubs.
It is raw
fish which is 'cooked' in lime. There are different variants, such as 'mixto' with, for example, scampi or squid or the classic version with fish fillet. Guacamole and taco chips ('totopos') are
usually served with it.
2 red onions
500 g cod fillet (skinless)
1 red chili pepper
1 bunch of coriander
Peel the onions and cut into wafer-thin rings. ix 200 ml of cold water with 1 teaspoon of salt and soak the onion rings in it for about 30 minutes. Rinse the fish fillet and pat dry. Run your hand over the fillet to find any remaining bones and remove them. Then cut the fish into about 1 cm cubes. Squeeze the limes and measure out 125 ml of the juice. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and marinate the fish in it for about 15 minutes. Clean, core and chop the chili. Wash and chop the coriander as well. Drain the onions and add them to the fish together with the chili and coriander. The resulting sauce made from lime, chili and coriander, in which the fish is marinated and served, is also called 'tiger milk'.
Corn, beans and chili play an special role in Mexican cuisine. Even if Mexican food is actually not spicy at all, such as Asian cuisine, many dishes are spiced which chili salsas (sauces made from chili) and even experienced mouths can often feel a good heat. Chili are peppers and get their heat from the substance capsaicin. This irritates the mucus in our mouth, which triggers the feeling of 'burning'. Many people love this felling and like to eat spicy. The reason for this is the release of endorphins (happiness hormones) after eating. In addition, spicy foods are very healthy and chili are high in vitamins. They are said to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and positive health effects. In addition, a study from 2007 shows that capsaicin has cancer-inhibiting potential and acts against cancer-causing toxins in the body without affecting healthy cells. Heart health can also be increased, as it is able to lower cholesterol levels and cholesterol (LDL), which is deposited in the blood vessels and can clog arteries. An all-rounder when it comes to health and wellbeing.
However, if you are not used to spicy food, you should take it slow, because enduring spiciness is a matter of getting used to! Of the dose is too high, it can cause a cardiovascular collapse or shortness of breath. It becomes particularly dangerous for people with heart problems and they should be particularly careful.
The spiciness of chilli is measured on a specific scale, the so-called Skoville scale. This was invented in 1912 by the American pharmacologist Wilbur L. Scovil and is based in the capsaicin content. Pure capsaicin has 16,000,000 Scoville which is the upper end of the scale, foods that do not contain capsaicin make the lower end of the scale with zero Skoville. The Carolina Reaper is in the Guiness Book of Records with a maximum measured degree of heat of 2.2 million Skoville. It is therefore considered to be the hottest chili in the world.
For a long time the rumor has persisted that the kernels of chili are the most spicy. However, this is not the case. Most of the capsaicin is found in the whitish membranes and, if damaged, spreads over the entire fruit and then onto the seeds. If you remove the white skins as carefully as possible, the chili becomes milder. The specific aroma of each variety is in the pulp.
Capsaicin is fat soluble. This means that a glass of milk or a mug of yogurt will help relieve the pain, while water tends to spread the substance further into the mouth and throat, making the pain worse.
A tip: in Mexico taste the salsas very carefully, often a tiny fork tip is enough to feel the spiciness on your tongue. And please never think that green and red sauces are dressing. Caution is absolutely necessary! Otherwise, the chili is an absolute delight on meat dishes, with tortillas, tacos and fish.