While many associate Northeastern Mexico (and Southern Texas) with barbecues and charro beans, this region of Mexico actually has a much more ancient and ample food culture stemming from the mix of its earliest European transplants and native flora and fauna. While the specific origins of these first settlers differs depending on which researcher you speak with (some say they hail from Andalusia, Spain, some say from the Portugal) it's generally agreed that the early colonizers of Nuevo Leon were of Jewish and Middle Eastern descendant.
There aren't many places left in the world where you can stop on the street and snack on something made in almost the exact same way as it was 500 years ago. Mexico happens to be one of those places. While certain items have become so ubiquitous it seems Mexican cuisine couldn't exist without them – pork, garlic, lard, citrus fruit – the staples of the pre-Hispanic diet still remain a very real part of everyday eating south of the border. Let's dive back and get a pre-Hispanic food primer.
In the United States, you have BBQ. In Mexico, there’s barbacoa. Barbacoa refers to a way of slow cooking meat at low temperatures, that leaves traditionally tough meat pull-apart tender. Though usually made with lamb or goat, these days, you’ll most likely find beef versions. You’ll find barbacoa served one of two ways: watery or dry. Watery barbacoa is served in consommé or juice (think of sandwiches au jus) and dry barbacoa is usually served as a stew, with rice and beans.
Mexico City's most famous treasure hunt is held every Sunday just north of the Centro Historico at La Lagunilla market. While it has a reputation for being a wild and dangerous place, locals know that the real danger you face is drinking too many micheladas and possibly taking up a stylist on the offer of a market haircut.
If you are watching Mexico City, looking for the next neighborhood to burst onto the food scene, then train your eyes on Colonia Juarez. In addition to its great location and beautiful architecture, Juarez is showing the first signs of its not-so-distant future as one of the city's hippest (and most delicious) hoods. Here's what we suggest for tasting some of its best.
Each year Mexican Independence Day begins at midnight on September 15th with fireworks, the famous “grito” or shout of the revolution, and then a day that follows of family and food. In kitchens and restaurants across Mexico pozole is served, a hearty soup made from hominy and pork, dressed up with chiles, salsas, sliced radishes and lime. The dish has long been part of Mexico's cultural heritage and has as many regional peculiarities as Mexican society itself. Where did it come from? Let's take a look back.
While Mexico City has gotten major press in the last few years for its wellspring of great food, art, and culture, Guadalajara, flying under the radar, is forging its own reputation for excellent food and drink.
So you've already been to Mexico. You're an expert on vitamin T (tacos, tlacoyos, tlayudas...). You fear no salsa. You feel pretty good about your Mexican foodie knowledge. But what about tejate, tepache, and pozol? Ponche, rompope, and a pulque curado? What happens when you find yourself around six steaming metal buckets of atole in a chaotic market at breakfast rush hour?
There's more to Mexican cocktails than the margarita. Next time you find yourself in Mexico City, branch out and try one of these favorites. They're full of local infusions, endemic flora, and surprising flavors.
“We put out our shoes and in the middle of the night the three kings come and put gifts in them … and maybe a chocolate,” says Mercedes Heide. Mercedes is a 9-year-old Argentine slightly obsessed with chocolate. She, her brother Felipe, and her sister Amalia, are telling me how they celebrate Three Kings Day in Argentina.
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