What Makes American and Mexican Food So Different?

Published: 28th October 2009
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by KC Kudra

It should not be a surprise to anyone to hear that the neighboring countries of the United States and Mexico have different cuisines. Nor is it surprising to hear that Mexican food recipes and recipes for traditional American dishes are quite different. What is surprising is that they are different - quite often, countries which border each other have somewhat similar culinary traditions, such as is the case between the US and Canada. So why is it that our food is so different from Mexican food anyway?

History Behind Mexican Cuisine

One of the two biggest reasons for the differences between Mexican food and American food is historical. Mexico of course was once a Spanish territory; then again, so were parts of the United States! The difference is that Mexico remained a Spanish colony for a much longer time - and you can certainly see the influence of Spanish cooking in parts of the American southwest. These are regions, which were formerly held by the Spanish and of course, also bordering Mexico.

The US has a different history, being a former British colony with most of its early immigration coming from northern Europe and having different culinary traditions. This alone accounts for some of the divergence of Mexican and American cooking, since traditional Mexican recipes have a profound Spanish influence which is missing from most American cooking.

European settlers arriving in Mexico came largely from Spain for a long time, having a much larger influence on the diet of the country than any single immigrant group in the United States ever did. In fact, many traditional Mexican recipes are directly from Spain or are adaptations of Spanish classics using local ingredients where the ingredients used in Europe were unavailable locally. The predominant influence of this one cuisine led to a mixture of Spanish and native cuisines, which evolved into what, we now know as Mexican food.

Mexico has also seen a large number of immigrants arrive from the Levant (especially Syria and Lebanon), adding a few dishes which are now classic Mexican food recipes in their own right such as al pastor. This dish is essentially a Mexican take on the middle eastern shawarma.

While the US has had many immigrants from many different parts of the world, the diversity of the US population as compared to Mexico's has meant that the cuisine of Mexico has remained more distinct than that of its northern neighbor. This by no means, means that Mexico is a place where foods from other countries is not enjoyed and adapted to local tastes either.

Locally Available Ingredients in Mexican Cooking

The other important factor in the difference between the cuisines of Mexico and the US is in the ingredients used. Just like in this country, Mexican cooks and Spanish colonists alike have always worked with the ingredients, which were widely available. In Mexico, of course that meant avocado, chili peppers, corn, pumpkins, pineapple, and other produce typical of the country's warmer climate.

This fusion of ingredients native to Mexico and those brought from Spain and the cooking methods of both old world and new is what brought Mexican food to fruition. In fact, this is probably the most popular fusion cuisine in the world, though people rarely think of Mexican food as anything but its own distinctive cuisine, which of course it is as well. From Mexican food recipes like huaraches to menudo, mole to Mexican casserole recipes, Mexican food is something with a flavor which is uniquely its own.

About The Author:

If you are in the mood for Mexican food tonight why not give one of our recipes like our Mexican rice recipe a try. Just one of the many delicious Mexican treats on our site. If you're looking for some great recipes, tips on cooking Mexican food and info, this site will be very helpful. Whether you want a quick and spicy burrito, mild salad, or sweet and spicy salsa we have a wonderful mix of Mexican recipes.

Check out the recipes at http://www.MexicanFoodRecipes.org

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