Ingredients and food
Salsa: Tomato salsa is the ketchup of the Mexican kitchen. It is always freshly made as close to serving time as possible. To make guacamole, simply add 1 or 2 roughly mashed avocados to the basic tomato salsa. Add fresh lime juice and salt to taste.
Tortillas: The bread of Mexico. Traditionally made with dried corn kernels and slaked with lime (calcium oxide). The Spanish, however, disliked the taste of lime, and their cooks began to make tortillas using wheat flour.
Spices: Cumin, coriander, cinnamon and cloves.
Herbs: Fresh coriander and Mexican oregano, which has a subtle sweet taste.
Chillies: Fresh jalapeño and Serrano chillies are usually used, but dried ancho chillies are also popular.
Fruit: Limes, not lemons, are commonly used.
Beans: Refried, with oil and spices. You will always find a bowl on the table, as a side dish or filling, on its own, or mixed with beef, pork, chicken or seafood.
Chocolate: Ground, unsweetened chocolate, perhaps mixed with chilli, for a savoury sauce. Otherwise, sweetened and spiked with cinnamon for drinking.
Flan: The “365” dessert of Spain. Baked caramel custard, said to be served every day of the year, is also the favourite in Mexico.
Aguas frescas: A fruit or vegetable drink mixed with sugar and water.
Camote: Sweet potato, often served with brown sugar and condensed milk.
Cochinita pibil: Shredded pork with chilli and spices.
Enchiladas: Tortillas (that can be stuffed) with a variety of sauces.
Frijoles: Beans, refried, mashed or sautéed.
Nopales: Cactus paddles eaten as a vegetable.
Quesadillas: Tortillas filled, folded and cooked.
Queso fresco: Fresh mild white cheese.
Sopes: Appetizers of small corn discs fried with toppings.
Tamales: Corn dough, wrapped in corn husks and steamed.
Tlacoyos: Corn dough, filled with cheese, cooked and topped with salsa and salad.
Tostada: A crisp-fried tortilla with any number of toppings.
Torta: A Mexican “sandwich” comprising a soft roll with fillings.
Tortilla: Thin, unleavened corn meal dough baked on a griddle.
Tuna: Prickly pear (not the fish, which is atún).