A Critique Of Mexican Cuisine

If each Mexican dish was a person, it would have a population larger than la Ciudad de Mexico – the fourth most populated city in the world. Okay perhaps a slight exaggeration, but even a Mexican wouldn’t know all the dishes of his own country – and that’s not an exaggeration.

The thing you need to know about Mexican food, is that they love chile (the spice), and there’s a whole range you can use. But you do need to remember – the spicier the food, the stronger the burn. And I’m talking about a burn when you eat it, a burn awhile later in your stomach and a burn when it’s coming out the other end. But for some crazy reason the chilli’s were hard to resist and the burn seemed bearable.

I spent about six months living with Mexicans, so apart from travelling through Mexico and trying all the street food, I was lucky to have the good home-cooked nosh whenever I wanted.

I’ve also got Mel on board helping me critique the food. She was always the better cook between the two of us, but just keep note she has a bias towards soups and chilli, so her favs are the spicier ones.

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Tacos de carne asado con tortilla de maíz

I’ll start off with Tacos, since I think that’s what a lot of people think Mexico’s all about anyway. But even the word tacos is too general. There’s everything from fish tacos to the traditional chicken and beef, on top of corn tortilla if you’re from the south and flour tortilla if you’re the north and even then, there’s different ways to cook it all up.
Let’s get it straight though, in Mexico, there’s no such thing as hard tacos (well not really, unless they want to toast it), so the Australian ad, porque no los dos, is just an exaggeration of a badly recognised stereotype. But tacos are great for any time of the day, any time of the year. In the capital city, I brought five off the street for like $1.50. They’re just so convenient, delicious and satisfying. And then each state has it’s own speciality, such as Tacos de Barbacoa or Tacos al Pastor.
On the JS scale: 9/10
On the Mel scale: 9/10
  “But I like the flour tortilla better. It complements it better. The corn can get too dry.”

GuacamayaThis photo on the left was taken on the side of the street in Leon, Guanajuato as img_2573Pedro and Mel are devouring the spicy goodness. This one’s super simple. A nice soft bread roll, crunched up chicharon (pork crackling) and a spicy tomato and chilli salad.
On the JS scale: 7/10
On the Mel scale: 8.5/10

Molletes – the lazy-man’s meal – therefore one of my favourites. Actually this ended up being our go-to meal in the house. Living with Mexicans, there’s always a stash of freshly blended beans sitting in the fridge. So all we needed to do was slather it on a slice of bread, pop a slice of cheese on top and put it in the grill. Taking it out, the stretchy cheese melts into the bread, enclosing the gooey beans. Then you can add whatever type of sauce on top or just eat it as it is.
On the JS scale: 9/10
On the Mel scale: 8/10 “With the salsa and everything as well, if not it’s just beans and cheese.”

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Photo credits to #Melseneatscomida

Pozole Like most of the dishes, pozole comes in a variety of versions. The picture on the right is Red Pozole, typically served in Mexico City. The word pozole means hominy (which, if you’re not a food connoisseur, means coarsely ground corn used to make grit). And it is also the primary ingredient of the soup along with a meat. The rest is up to you. It can be garnished with things such as radish (like the dish on the right), cabbage, onion, avocado etc.
On the JS scale: 6/10
On the Mel scale: 9/10 “Gotta be with chiltepín” (a type of chilli)

Flautas This was the meal we had the first time I ate out in Mexico. We went to a renowned img_2519restaurant in Mexico City, La Casa de Toño, got excited and ordered a lot. I remember feeling quite full after this meal. The three main dishes we shared were the pozole, I just mentioned, chicharon, pictured in the bottom of the photo and flautes – corn tortilla stuffed with chicken or meat and covered with lettuce, avocado, cream, cheese and red or green salsa. Like tacos, the north of Mexico use flour tortilla and if it wasn’t for the heavy sauce on top I would have found the dish rather dry with the corn tortillas. However, it did make for a good balance with the soup.
On the JS scale: 7/10
On the Mel scale: 6/10

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Photo credits to Noe

Mole I first tried this dish a couple of years ago in Australia as I was intrigued with it’s use of chocolate. I then had it once more in our house in Concepcion, when a friend decided to treat us with it. And I finally had it again in the take-away section of a big shopping mall in Monterrey, Mexico. But the main point is, one of it’s central ingredients is chocolate! In a savoury main meal! Apart from this awesome fact, the meal has an acquired taste. It can surprisingly come off a little dry, despite it being almost like a curry but once you get used to the taste, it is an uniquely savouring dish.
On the JS scale: 7/10
On the Mel scale: 5/10 
– “I wasn’t a fan”. 

If you’re ever after a tasty snack, full of salt (but also with a touch of health to make you feel better about eating it) Tosti Locos is for you. I think this would definitely be one of my mum’s fav snacks since it’s a combo of salad and chips. Super simple. Open a bag of chips, and then add in what you like on top- cheese, cucumber, onion, cabbage, jalapenos and go crazy with the salsa (eg. Pedro’s fav combo was clamato, chamoy, salsa valentina -maybe a bit too many for the one snack, but deliciously tasty). This might not sound that cultural, but I have to give a shout out to the chips in Mexico. They are the most flavoursome chips in the world! There’s so much variety and a single chips is packed with so much salt and flavour.
On the JS scale: 8/1img_26170
On the Mel scale: 7/10

Chilaquiles This is one of my favourite breakfasts. After I had a taste, it was the one dish i kept requesting my Mexican friends to make for me. It’s really quick and a good way to get rid of any leftover tortillas and salsa hanging around in the fridge. I guess the main reason we didn’t have it much was because we never really had that much food hanging around. The rich salsa and the fried tortillas makes for a tasty combination but the dish would be better with a side of eggs or frijoles.
On the JS scale: 8/10
On the Mel scale: 6.5/10

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Photo credits to #Melseneatscomida

Birria This is Mel’s favourite. Apart from a sip of Mel’s soup, I never actually tried it myself, but it makes the list because she said if she had to pick a favourite in all of Mexico, it would be Birria. “The freshness of the vegetables and the addition of the chile to your liking makes a very tasty broth 10 out of 10.”
On the JS scale: 7/10
On the Mel scale: 10 “with extra picante”

I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but I haven’t said anything about burritos yet. Surprised? But I’m not going to. The next meal is exclusive to Hermosillo, Percheron. This is the closest thing to a burrito on this list. The beauty about this dish is if you order it at the eatery, each table has a good selection of salsas. So apart from the deliciously fried meat and accompanied salad and each bite will be salsa filled and rich in flavour. I can’t quite decide if this is better than tacos or not, but I think I am going to say it is just because each mouthful is fulllll of flavour.
On the JS scale: 10/10
On the Mel scale: 9/10 “Its impressive the size of the tortilla.” 

Tamales. Most of South America has it’s own version of Tamales and at the end of the day I found they were quite similar. Being in Mexico, they’re going to find the chance to add a chilli in with the meat or chicken. Apart from that, the ingredients are the same to what I found in Peru, just served in a smaller portion.
On the JS scale: 7/10
On the Mel scale: 6/10 “I’m not a huge fan too much corn, since we haven’t really been brought up eating it so often.”

img_2645Torta ahogado This one is a specialty of the state of Jalisco (as well as their renowned Tequila). It’s pretty much a sandwich soaked in a tomato based sauce, which means you may actually be eating this sandwich with a fork and knife.
On the JS scale: 7/10
On the Mel scale: 7/10 “Like i liked it, but it wasn’t amazing.”

Dogos / Momoias Another Hermosillo specialty. The Chilean version in called a completo and the American version is called a Hot Dog. Yes, out of all the interesting Mexican food that I could write about, a hot dog makes the list. But buying this in the street is a cool experience in itself. Firstly you have a selection of the sausage (normal, chicken or wrapped in bacon) and then you can add whatever you like from the salad bar on display -anything from corn, to jalapeños, to their range of salsa. I think I got too excited my first time and just plonked everything on, but it gives each bite plenty of flavour.img_2960-1
On the JS scale: 8/10
On the Mel scale: 9/10 “Shout out to Guerro – the way he toasted the bun and the chilli and all the extra condiments make for a tasty mexican experience.”

Cóctel de camarones. A really refreshing afternoon meal or snack. It’s great to have by the coast, with fresh seafood and I loved its combination with tomato. It’s a generally light meal that combines simple flavours to bring out the best in all of them.
On the JS scale: 8/10
On the Mel scale: 5/10
“I feel like we didn’t try a good one. In Hermosillo they use the clamato which I would have liked better than the tomato sauce. But I like the idea of it.”

Tlayuda. This is a speciality of Oaxaca. This is something I could easily make as a quick meal. It’s light, it has vegetables on it and it is tasty. Really it’s just like a pizza, but Mexican version. By Mexican I mean they partially fry or alternatively toast a large tortilla and slather img_3056it with a bean paste. The rest is really up to you depending which toppings tickle your fancy.
On the JS scale: 8/10
On the Mel scale: 6.5/10 “This is another where I like the concept of it, but I feel like we could have found a better one.”

Tejate. The only drink I have on this list and the only thing sweet. Actually it’s not too sweet, but it’s made of chocolate, so it almost should be. This is another dish from Oaxaca, which is the state img_3041where chocolate apparently originated. Well technically it was the Aztecs who invented chocolate in their attempts to make beer and so there are plenty of chocolatey options in Oaxaca.
On the JS scale: 8/10
On the Mel scale: 8/10 “I actually really liked it. I’m not a huge milky fan but it was really refreshing in the setting that we were in.” 

*If you’re an avid food lover, I have also done a very similar post on the renowned Peruvian cuisine.

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12 thoughts on “A Critique Of Mexican Cuisine

      • Without having tasted them, it is hard to say. However, the Birria looks like a hearty soup or stew which would be great in Winter. Also, I like the idea of the Tlayuda with its healthy bean paste, vegetables and probably some Oaxaca cheese & salsa.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh good, the Tlayuda is one of the easier ones to make. I can do it for you when I get home… or when you visit ;D

        Like

  1. YO MEXICAN FOOD LOOKS HELLA NICE! Im sure all those foods are delightful just like the read of this marvelous blog! Wow wow 10/10 on the JS and MEL scale! WOW!

    Liked by 1 person

      • Lookswise, i would have to choose the flautas because it looks so good…just like a massive grape hanging vertically, on a 180 degree grapevine, on a sunday morning, where the sun just hits the dew just right, where its reflection reminds you of the happy times in life. Yes, the flautas.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. What a read. What a journey. Booking that flight to Mexico yo ezpz. 10/10 on the Panny scale for the great writing and photography! Looks like the verdict is Mexican food over Peruvian food aye aye?

    Liked by 1 person

      • I don’t know about favourite but I’m most intrigued by the Mexican tacos. How they compare to my family recipe of meat sauce my nan passed on and her nan and her nan and so on….

        Liked by 1 person

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