Mexican culture is famous for its gastronomy
Discover the gastronomic culture of Mexico
From tacos to enchiladas, we all have a favorite Mexican food. This has become a worldwide phenomenon and now multiple counties have their version of tacos. But seriously, how important is the Mexican gastronomic culture?
A big achievement of Mexican gastronomy is that it was the first one of the now four cuisines to be declared by UNESCO as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The food of our country has an enormous diversity that represents different groups, ethnicities, and regions. Gastronomy and culture make Mexico a magical place.
Mexican food is also a great part of the national identity. It’s normal to hear phrases like “Are you not Mexican?” or “Where were you born?” when we dislike some typical dish. The pride we feel for our food is not only because of the deliciousness, but it comes from a cultural origin.
Let’s start from the beginning, what is gastronomic culture?
First, let’s define culture. This embodies the set of knowledge, customs, traditions, and ways of life of a society. Gastronomy means the different meals and the art of preparing them. So, we can define gastronomic culture as the expression of culture through the art of cooking.
Gastronomic culture is made up of traditions. It has to do with our history and identity. This is also a way of communication, of expressing ourselves and passing knowledge from one generation to another. It differs in every country and has to do with the transcendence of food in the cultural expression of society.
Today the culinary culture has gained strength, especially with gastronomic tourism on the rise. People try to experience the culture of the country they visit through their dishes. This has become as important as any other intangible object of culture and it seeks to preserve the gastronomic heritage
In Mexico, food has always been an important part of the culture. In a country full of rituals, it’s not surprising that our food is also considered one of them.
Eat, love, travel: gastronomic tourism
Gastronomic tourism refers to living the cultural richness of a country through food. Foodies passionately sought after these trips. For work or hobby, seek to try the different flavors of the typical foods of the country they visit. Traveling with your palate allows tourists to learn the history, ingredients, techniques, and flavors of the country they are visiting.
This type of tourism has gained popularity. Some travelers now plan their whole trip based on tasting some delicious dishes. That’s why various gastronomic routes have emerged seeking to promote this type of travel in various areas. Such as the “Thousand flavors of mole” in Oaxaca.
In our country, there are 18 of these gastronomic routes. They cover about 155 destinations in 31 magical towns and 9 cities that are considered world heritage sites. In Mexico, gastronomic tourism is on the rise, this is due to the diversity of flavors in each region.
The magic behind Mexican food
We have established that Mexican food is delicious, that is a fact. But there are also many dishes and cuisines inside of this one. There is an unimaginable number of versions of the same recipe. Also, every region has its own cooking method. This diversity of flavors is what catches our attention.
Our gastronomy is characterized by its strong flavors, diverse colors, and let’s not forget the hot spice. The vital ingredients are corn, chili, beans, avocado, and cactus. Many herbs and plants are used for cooking such as epazote, coriander, oregano, thyme, rosemary, and many others. All of these are common to find in multiple Mexican dishes.
Mexican gastronomic culture cuisine has many variations since the culture of the country is very diverse, the Mexican diet is too. The dishes eaten in the south are not the same as those eaten in the north or the center of the country. The gastronomy of the different states has also gained strength, turning them into gastronomic destinations.
Flavors, scents, and colors fiesta
Through cuisine, you can experience the culture of the different regions of our country. In Yucatan, it is customary to eat a cochinita sandwich. In Guadalajara the typical thing is a drowned sandwich (salsa dipped sandwich). Also, different dishes such as tamales, tacos, or ceviche vary depending on which part of the country you eat them.
Different festivities have characteristic dishes in Mexican gastronomic culture. In January we inherited the tradition of splitting Rosca de Reyes. In February there is no shortage of tamales on Candelaria Day. November is for the Day of the Dead, we eat Pan de Muerto and if you are from the south, there is no shortage of pib or mucbipollo, the Yucatecan tamal for Hanal Pixán.ç
September, the national month, we eat tacos, pambazos, chilaquiles, chiles en nogada and the one dish we can’t miss is pozole. Pozole is a clear example of how traditions have been preserved and adapted to become part of Mexican culture.
The origin of flavor in the heart of pre-hispanic cultures
Our history is not only what we study in school, but it is also told through food. From kitchen to kitchen, millenary recipes have been passed on, they contain a great cultural value. This is because before the Spanish arrived, our ancestors already had the foundations of what the Mexican diet would be today.
Ancient pre-hispanic cultures such as the Maya, the Aztec, the Olmec, the Teotihuacan, the Zapotecos, the Mixtecos, and many others already associated food with their sacred rites. Their gastronomy was made up of seasonal stews for parties that honored the gods. The food was also eaten according to the crops that were harvested each season.
These cultures harvested corn, beans, cactus, chili, squash, tomato, and avocado that today are basic ingredients of Mexican cuisine. It was also common to eat grasshoppers, escamoles, or frogs and reptiles. They’re still consumed in many places, although it is considered unusual nowadays.
From pre-hispanic gastronomy, we have not only inherited its ingredients, but also its ways. Cooking the meat on the grill and with firewood. Cooking the tamales with corn or banana leaves. Making the tortillas in comales. Even digging a hole under the ground, covering it with earth, heating it with firewood, and stones that absorb and maintain heat to cook different dishes.
The delicious heritage of pre-hispanic Mexico
The foundation of Mexican food at that time was also corn. Pre-hispanic cultures maintained a balanced diet and had around 40 species of this plant. Not only is the delicious tortilla made from this. We also find foods such as atole, tlacoyo, pozole, esquite, pinole, and tamales. The corn husks were also used to wrap the same tamales, cheese, or fish. Even the fungus of this became a very famous side dish called huitlacoche.
Another basic ingredient of pre-hispanic cuisine was cocoa. This was not only used as currency but it was also used to make delicious dishes. At first, the Olmecas used cocoa by mixing their beans with water. This drink was considered a gift from the gods. Cocoa meant abundance and it was common to use it for rituals that praised deities. Today, it is the main ingredient to make exquisite chocolate and is still important for Mexican culinary art.
We have inherited many dishes from pre-hispanic cuisine, one of the most representative is pozole. The pozole was an emperors’ dish, used as an offering for the gods. Today it is an essential meal of the patriotic month but it maintains several ingredients that our ancestors used.
The bright street food scene and garnachas in Mexico
Another important part of Mexican gastronomic culture is our street food: tacos, tortas, and garnachas are essential in our diet. The famous Mexican snacks have existed since pre-hispanic times. Their flavor has been preserved to this day. Due to the type of life of our country, it’s not surprising that the gorditas around the corner are the typical lunch of a worker. When it comes to street food, Mexico does not skimp on the variety of snacks.
In modern Mexican culture, street food is characterized by its antojitos or snacks. There are also fruits and insects, that are accompanied by various sauces or chilis that delight the mouth. These foods and snacks are typical and any Mexican person enjoys them, it is something we share as a group.
So, besides having an insane craving for these delicious Mexican snacks (such as tlacoyos, huaraches, sopes, flautas, etc.) we also eat them because of culture. Cooking and eating are cultural acts. These types of behaviors and attitudes towards food are embedded in our identity as Mexicans.
So, what does it mean to be Mexican?
According to legends and myths, Mexicans come from corn. Food is indeed an integral part of us. We share so many stories in the kitchen, from grandma’s recipes to your aunt’s soup. In family reunions, there is no shortage of casserole tacos and fresh fruit water, accompanied with a delicious arroz con leche.
We have all experienced that feeling of loss when making a trip abroad. We begin to miss our chilaquiles for breakfast from day one. This is not only because of its exquisite taste but because it gives us this comforting feeling of home. Food is an essential part of our identity as Mexicans.
Food and tradition are a part of Mexican culture. All typical festivities are accompanied by food. At parties with the family, there is no lack of conversation in the kitchen. Normally, no one can resist a garnacha. Food is the center of meetings with family, friends and even work. It has become an integral part of how we experience culture in Mexico and it is impossible to separate it from our history, we all take pride in the Mexican gastronomic culture.
Culture and gastronomy make Mexico a unique destination
The Mexican gastronomic culture has evolved to reach what it is today. Our country and our culture changed over time, so it has been through many changes. Today the overview of Mexican cuisine has been driven by tourism. There is also pride that we as Mexicans have in our culinary art.
Our food has many influences, from pre-hispanic cultures to the colonization period. It has also received impacts from the cuisines of other countries. As we have mentioned before, there is a huge variety of regional cuisines. Many dishes are related to history. Many others arise from legends and myths. Food has always been rooted in our culture.
Gastronomy and culture make a perfect mix in Mexican food. Both complement each other to give a delicious dish, rich in history. It is important to know the background of our food and to preserve the traditions of our gastronomy. We must celebrate and preserve our culture and also share it and teach it to others.
To eat, or not to eat, that is the question
The Mexican gastronomic culture is invaluable, from the ingredients to the methods. We have a wide variety of elements that make our cuisine unique. Eating is not something that we only do to survive, but it has become an element of our identity.
That is why we invite you to try new things. Take the leap and eat that grasshopper. Travel and get to know the foods from different regions. Appreciate the colors and flavors of that mole. Most of all, enjoy what the gastronomy of Mexico can offer you. Experience our culture through food.
Mexican gastronomic culture relives our history, preserves traditions, and celebrates the biodiversity of our country. Eating in Mexico is a journey of unparalleled flavors and landscapes. That is why Mexican cuisine is considered a world heritage.
Do you want to know more about Mexico’s gastronomic culture? We recommend The Essential Element Of The Mexican Food
We would like to know, what is your favorite Mexican dish? Share your answers in the comments.
Amante de la fotografía y el cine, curiosa por conocer nuevos lugares y culturas.