A Brief History of Mexican Cuisine

Mexican food history is as long and diverse as its rich culture. Undoubtedly one of the most popular cuisines in the world, it’s flavours have influenced years of divine food. Mexican cuisine goes so much further than our classic favourite, tacos, salsa, guacamole, and the likes, and i’m here to show you just how.

A lot of mexican food was influenced by different cultures as a result of colonisation, and later the trading between various countries and colonies. It therefore became a mix of cooking styles, and ingredients derived from various cultures.  

It is believed, that Mexican food may have derived from the Mayan Indians.The Mayan Indians lived in the Yucatan area in Southeast Mexico. Due to the fact that The Mayan Indians were known hunters, wild game (wild animals and birds), fish, and tropic fruits were commonly consumed foods. Corn tortillas and bean paste were also two main staples around this time.

Pre-Columbian Era:

Before the influence of Europe, the typical Mexican diet was fairly simple and was limited to the locally grown agricultural products. This included mainly corn, chilies and beans. Corn was the most popular and most widely used ingredient in the pre-Columbian period, and still even to this day. Some of the popular cooking methods for consumption of corn were corn tortillas and tamales, which involved the inclusion of corn into various different flour preparations. As well as this, the corn products were often complemented with ingredients like tomatoes and chilies. Early Mexican cuisine also included a wide variety of herbs and mushrooms.

Spanish Influence:

Due to the Spanish invasion in 1521, there was a huge Spanish influence on Mexican food, both in regards to cooking methods, and ingredients. Upon the arrival of the Spanish soldiers, they discovered that the local diet consisted mainly of corn-based dishes with chilies and herbs, usually accompanied by tomatoes and beans. Eventually the soldiers began to combine these foods with their imported diet, that consisted largely of rice, beef, pork, chicken, wine, garlic, and onions. Spanish influence led to the creation of dishes such as chile rellenos (chiles stuffed with cheese, and beef or pork), lomo en adobo (pork loin in a spicy sauce), and the very popular, quesadilla.

French Influence:

When the French began to occupy Mexico, they introduced a wide variety of baked goods to the country. Mexican sweet breads and bolillo are some of the most common influences the french had on the food. Also, going the other way, native Mexican ingredients such as squash blossoms and avocados were ideal for the French style mousse, crepes and soups.