If you are a big foodie, the chances are that one of your favourite cuisines is Mexican. People around the world are enchanted by the variety, taste and mouthwatering palette experience that this cuisine promises. While it is easy to find authentic Mexican food at the famous Vancouver based ‘Cinco De Mayo’ restaurant, very few North Vancouver restaurants may really offer the same taste and variety otherwise. So what makes Mexican cuisine so yummy? Is it the ingredients? Is it the cooking technique? Or maybe it’s a secret ingredient that is a well guarded secret by the true blood Mexicans. Before trying to answer that let’s go back to the origins of Mexican cuisine.
The origin of Mexican cuisine
The origin of Mexican cuisine can be traced back over 9,000 years. At that time, communities like ‘Maya’ formed the basis of the modern day Mexican food by domesticating maize and bringing standardization in the corn nixtamalization process. These practices formed the basis of traditional Mexican food were soon adopted and customized by successful Mesoamerican groups. In the 16th century, the Mexican cuisines were interrupted by the Spanish who tried to impose their own food and preparation techniques in the mainstream. This included using corn and wheat as a replacement to the traditional maize. However, after a miserable failure, the Spaniards retracted and let Mexicans have their way. Following the influence, Mexicans tried to experiment with wheat for their traditional preparations and ended up settling with only tortillas and sincronizada (a concoction of fried ham and cheese) made up of wheat. However, making a corn dough, correction, bringing the correct consistency and texture to a corn dough is a herculean task; almost no one dares to experiment with it.
What brings the ‘amazing’ in the amazing Mexican cuisine?
It is said that ‘Great Mexican food starts with the right maize produce.’ Among so many other ingredients that make Mexican food so palette friendly, maize is the starting point for most of the Mexican cuisine. Tortilla, tacos, quesadillas, flautas, enchiladas and their complete ‘extended families’ can be simply made by treating maize differently. Tortillas are the equivalent of bread, naan or roti which can be paired with a curry like preparation. Mexicans would usually serve them with some kind of filling like kidney beans, salads, a few sauces and add a zest of spices. Enchiladas are tortillas that are dipped in a sauce and folded around a salty or spicy filling. Enchiladas are then seasoned with cilantro and served with sauce bath and cheese sprinkle. Tostadas are dry fried tortillas served with a meat or vegetarian curry based filling.
Whether it is a north shore restaurant catering to local Mexican food lovers or a small Mexican bistro in North Vancouver, the basis of Mexican cooking has very much originated in the agricultural techniques and the produce itself. Ever wondered why that Mexican delicacy with the same ingredients and cooking techniques, tastes so different in a north shore restaurant and so completely distinct in an authentic Mexican restaurant? The answer to that is ‘produce.’ True food lovers know that food groups such as sweet potatoes, yam, cinnamon, chiles, maize and vanilla have originated in Mexico and inherently native Mexicans possess the right skills, techniques and understanding of cooking temperature that make their food much more tasty and distinct.
Cinco De Mayo is an authentic Mexican grill based in Vancouver, known for their tacos, burritos and quesadillas. The joint also serves vegan options. Their exclusive selection of tequila and Mexican craft beer is a must try!