Published on March 31st, 2014 | by Tayla Gentle
There’s more to Mexican food than tacos. Here’s proof.
Read time: a bit over 2 minutes
Photo courtesy of Ross Bruniges | Flickr
This may come as a surprise, but there is more to Mexican food than burritos and tacos. We aren’t indulging in any food snobbery here, because we freakin’ love tacos and burritos as much as the next person, but we reckon (and apparently UNESCO does too) that Mexican comida deserves more than the current tortilla/refried bean/corn chip stereotype.
So, food-inclined friends, we ask you to open your minds and your bellies to the possibility of a few lesser known, but equally delicious, Mexican morsels:
Cochinita Pibil literally translates to ‘buried baby pig’, and while that may not get your tummy rumbling, it’s a hit with the Yucatan peeps. Dating all the way back to the ancient Mayans, this recipe for slow-roasted pork involves marinating a whole suckling pig in a mix of spice and citrus, wrapping in banana leaf and burying in a fire-pit. This is one to share with the extended family, so get your cousins over, crank up the reggaeton and serve with fresh tortillas and habanero chilli. Vamos a la fiesta, we say!
Flan is the nectar of the gods, and we say that with a straight face. Somewhere, up in the sky, beautiful beings are bathing in flan. It is truly that heavenly. Forget grapes and dark chocolate, just give us that sweet, sweet concoction of condensed milk and cream cheese. Similar to a crème caramel, flan is possibly Spain’s greatest contribution to Mexican cuisine.
Prior to actually eating one, we were of the understanding that a tamale was just an adjective used to describe impressive dance talent. Not so, apparently. Outside of So You Think You Can Dance, tamales are beautiful steamed pockets of stuffed masa dough, wrapped in banana leaves and cooked to melt-in-your-mouth perfection. A traditional Mesoamerican snack, these little bundles are good on-the-go travel sustenance, and no market meandering is complete without one. We recommend the chicken.
Mole is a sauce, and it will never photograph well. But whether it’s coming in green, red, yellow or black, mole is a delicious, delicious mess. And it deserves to be all over your plate. Mole is so closely associated with celebration in Mexican culture that if your mum was to ask you what you are doing on the weekend, and you are heading to your best friend’s wedding, you’d reply with “going to a mole”. Where the mole goes, a party follows.
A trendy, inner-city Australian restaurant is likely to describe tylauda as an ‘open taco’ or ‘deconstructed enchilada’, or something equally pretentious. In reality, tylauda is just a Mexican-take on pizza, but it’s also some of Oaxaca’s finest street-food. Take your crispy tortilla and smother it in refried beans, top with the juiciest carne asada, lettuce and string cheese. More beans. Throw in a few jalapenos for extra heat before finishing it off with a slathering of salsa. We dare you to try and eat a tylauda without making a mess.
Que rico, hombre!