When we see or hear about Nachos, the first thing that comes to our mind is Mexico. But do you know that this food dish is not authentically Mexican! It has never been made in the homes in Mexico. There are several other ‘Mexican’ foods in the Mexican restaurants in the USA and the world that sell foods that are never eaten in Mexico. Which are these Mexican foods?
America and Mexican foods
There are a number of foods served in Mexican restaurants in the USA and the world but those are not authentic Mexican foods. As we all know, in the early 1500s, Spain conquered the Aztec Empire. After that, Mexican cuisine was a fusion of original Mexican food and Spanish cuisine. These foods had indigenous staple ingredients such as corn, tomatoes, avocados, beans and chili peppers. But they also incorporated Spanish common ingredients such as milk, meats, herbs and spices.
And now these American-Mexican restaurants serve Mexican foods that are actually an adaptation of Mexican foods. They have their own different ingredients added to this. Hence though they carry the label of Mexican, they are not Mexican food per se. They have more of ground beef, canned vegetables, wheat flour and yellow cheese in them. They are the Americanized Mexican dishes.
It was in 1943 in Piedras Negras, Mexico that the invention of nachos occurred. A restaurant there made this food for the first time for the wives of US soldiers who wished to have something to eat after the restaurant was closed. Therefore, the chef cut the tortilla into triangles and fried them. He used yellow cheese and jalapeños pepper pickles over it. This became a bar staple after that. And now nachos in the USA also have sour cream, guacamole, ground beef, pulled pork, and yellow cheese in them.
The traditional Mexican dish is chilaquiles. It has corn tortilla cut into quarters and lightly fried. On top of it is salsa and scrambled or fried eggs. There is no cream, beef or cheese in it.
This is also an American version of the food dish of same name in Mexico. It has meat and vegetables in it. But the tortilla is made of white flour and not corn flour. In Mexico, the actual equivalent is cochinita pibil. It has pork marinated with lemon juice and slowly roasted wrapped in a banana leaf. There is annatto seed in it as well. This is eaten with corn tortillas and the side dish is of red onions that is pickled, habanero chilies, and refried black beans.
Miners, cowboys, and farm workers of Mexican origin invented this dish in the USA. The Americanized dish is larger in size and has inside rice, vegetables, beans, cheese, sour cream, eggs, sausage or anything else too. But in Mexico, this dish does not exist. Instead there is tacos de harina. This is from the southern provinces of the nation. These are smaller in size and also thinner. The inside consists of just two or three ingredients. These may be meat, seafood, vegetables, rice, beans, chilies or white cheese.
This is a mild yellow cheese derived from cheddar cheese from Somerset, England. But this is totally different from the authentic white cheese of Mexico. The latter are tangy and pair well with the chillies. The different white cheese in Mexico include queso blanco, queso Oaxaca, queso panela, chihuahua, añejo, and cotija etc. These are less in fats and cholesterol and also calories.
Chili con carne
This is chili with meat. And it originated in Texas and has ground beef, beans, tomatoes, spices, chili peppers, cheese and sour cream. It is not Mexican. Also it is unhealthy unless the beef is lean and from grass fed cows. There should also be less cheese and cream.
Monica Flin, owner of El Charro eatery in Tuscon in Arizona accidentally discovered the recipe of this dish in 1922. It happened after he dropped by mistake a pastry into a oil-filled frying pan. Burritos in oil is this dish. This is not at all Mexican. The healthier version in Mexico is fish tacos with roasted tomato salsa.
Also, read How to make Creamy, and Tangy Esquites (Mexican Street Corn Salad)?
So what we eat in Mexican restaurants worldwide may not necessarily be of Mexican origin!!!