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The Culinary Regions of Authentic Mexican Cuisine

The Culinary Regions of Authentic Mexican Cuisine

In America, mention Mexican food and you will probably hear someone say, "I love tacos," but Mexican cuisine is so much more than just tacos. There are seven distinct regions of authentic Mexican Cuisine, each with a history and story to tell. The foods of Mexico, a country home to over 125 million people, are as unique as the people that live there.


Breaking down Mexican cuisine, you will find that each region has a something really special about it. Food is serious business in Mexico with plenty of emphasis on using fresh, natural ingredients that are frequently locally sourced. Chiles are plentiful, and food is spicy with an overall warmth that tastes like an aubelita's love. There are many different foods all over the country for all different palettes.

The North

Sometimes referred to as "El Norte," this region is home to a wide variety of dishes that reflect the culture of this 2,000 or so mile stretch of land. Grilled foods, especially beef, are a main contender for most popular food in the area. This is because there was a strong ranching culture in the history of this region, influences of which can still be felt today through the popularity of beef and dairy in the cuisine. This region produces the biggest variety of cheeses in Mexico. Queso fresco is a feta-like cheese that comes from this region, and burritos were born here.

Some of the most popular foods include: Cabrito, Guacavaqui, Machaca, Burritos, and Carne Asada.

The North Pacific Coast

Much of the country's produce comes from this region. Here is where you will find an abundance of grain, fruits, vegetables, and of course most importantly, chiles. The most famous dish of the region is the birria, a stew that is made with beef or mutton and plenty of chiles and spices. This is also where you will find the world-famous tequila of Jalisco. Seafood is extremely popular here, and foods with lots of flavor and spices are easy to find. European influences can be found here, but you will also discover foods with roots in pre-Hispanic food.

Some of the most popular foods include: Estofado Stew, Fish Tacos, and Aguachile.

The Bajio

This region is unique because it is a plateau surrounded by mountain ranges. Here there is a popular alcoholic drink called charanada, which is made from fermented corn. This region is especially popular for its sweets and desserts such as cajeta, a caramel made with goat's milk.

Some of the most popular foods include: Morisqueta, Carnitas, Pozole, and Cotija.

The South Pacific Coast

Popular for meat and cheese, this is the most Indian influenced area of Mexico. This is also where seven of the most famous moles of Mexico come from. These moles are the mole negro, mole Amarillo, mole verde, mole coloradito, mole rojo, mole manchamanteles, and mole chichilo. Moles are thick sauces that are used in many meat and rice dishes popular all over Mexico.

Some of the most popular foods include: Enfrijoladas, Queso Oaxaca, Oaxaca Chiles, and Blandas.

The South

Mayan influences are alive and well in this region, where the cooking is extremely fresh and especially delicious with a huge array of spices and seasonings. Annatto seeds are the spice of choice. The wonderful red coloring given to food by this spice. The south is also famous for the salsas that it produces.

Some of the most popular foods include: Poc-Chuc, Chiltomate, Pozol, and Achiote.

The Gulf

Food here is relatively Afro-Cuban and it shares a lot of its features with Caribbean food. Vanilla is popular in this cuisine because it is found locally. Creole culture seeps into the surrounding areas of Havana, San Juan, and Cartagena. There are some African ingredients in the foods here, like Plantains, yucca, and sweet potatoes. Seafood is also popular here.

Some of the most popular foods include: Garnachas, Crema de Palmitos, and Arroz a la tumbada.

Central Mexico

If you visit Central Mexico, you will find a cuisine that is heavy on street foods but also has a lot of influence from the other regions of Mexico. Despite being inland, there are also influences from other countries present in the dishes served here. Pre-Hispanic food is popular here too, with some eateries specializing in foods made with insects. Mexican haute cuisine comes from Central Mexico. Haute cuisine is Mexican cuisine with a French twist, or French cuisine with a Mexican twist, depending on the specific dish.

Some of the most popular foods include: Barbacoa, Mole Poblano, and Chalupas.

With such a range of food types all over the country, it is hard to say there's not something you could try and like. If all else fails, you have the ingredients for some incredible tacos at any time! Way better than anything you could get from a fast food place in America, masquerading as genuine Mexican food.

Read More

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Getting to Know the Seven Essential Regions of Mexican Cuisine
Tex-Mex vs Mexican
Intro to Authentic Mexican Cuisine

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