A very basic list of typical Mexican food, mentioning just a few of the many dishes available:
TACOS: this is usually a bit confusing for most – the generalized idea is that a taco is made using a hard, u-shaped corn shell filled with seasoned minced meat, lettuce and tomatoes, grated cheese and some sour cream. However this is not the case. Rather, truly authentic tacos use the soft corn tortillas and are stuffed with either meat, chicken or seafood fillings.
TORTILLAS: made of wheat flour or maize (corn flour), these traditional flat savory pancakes formed the staple food of Mexican people for centuries. They are used in a host of different dishes such as enchiladas or quesadillas and are often served instead of bread.
FRIJOLES: Mexican for beans, this was and still is a primary source of protein in the Mexican diet. Used both as main ingredients and as garnishes to other dishes, beans can be boiled or fried.
GUACAMOLE: An avocado garnish or dip made with mashed avocado, onion, coriander and chilies.
ENCHILADAS: Made with tortillas, enchiladas are basically folded or rolled tortillas stuffed with chicken, pork or vegetables and then baked.
QUESADILLAS: Folded tortillas stuffed with cheese and then grilled.
SALSA: Spanish for sauce, this is a salsa made generally with tomatoes, onion, chili and cilantro.
TEQUILA: Mexico’s national drink, most people drink this spirit in the form of a margarita or as tequila shots. A margarita is mixed with lime juice in a salt-rimmed glass. This strong, transparent alcoholic drink is derived from a spiky bush known as the maguey plant. A less processed version of tequila is mezcal. This drink is traditionally served with a worm – which is eaten when the bottle of mezcal is finished.
CHOCOLATE: The cocoa bean was grown and harvested in Central America long before the American continent was discovered in 1492. The native indigenous people of Mexico were the first to make the earliest form of chocolate using the Xocolatl beans, which were very valuable and even used as currency for trading purposes.
CAFÉ DE OLLA – COFFEE FROM THE POT: Coffee “a la mexicana”, this coffee literally comes from the pot, where it simmers all day long, mixed together with cinnamon and cloves and forms a strong, syrupy sweet coffee drink.
Ceviche: Raw fish marinated in lime juice, often in a chopped salad.
Chiles Renellos: Large Poblano chilies stuffed with cheese or spicy meat (picadillo). The chilies are mild, though the sauce may not be.
Enchiladas: Tortillas coated in a tomato and chili sauce, stuffed with vegetables, chicken or pork then folded and baked. Despite the chili content, enchiladas are often fairly mild. Enchiladas suizas are topped with sour cream.
Huachinango: Red Snapper, a common feature on the menus at coastal resorts. Often available ‘al gusto’, cooked in a choice of methods.
Quesadillas: Tortillas stuffed with cheese, folded and grilled. A simple dish often served with beans or a little salad and suitable for those avoiding anything spicy.
Mole sauce: A wonderful rich sauce made with the unlikely combination of chocolate, chilies and many spices. It can be red or green depending on the ingredients and the moles of Puebla and Oaxaca are particularly famous, hence ‘mole poblano’ or ‘mole oaxaqeño’. The sauce is often served over chicken, though turkey is more traditional.
Pipían sauce: Another of Oaxaca’s specialties, pipían sauce is green and made from pumpkin seeds. It is often served over chicken.
Poc Chuc: Another Yucatecan specialty, where pork fillet is cooked with tomatoes, onions and spices.
Pollo Pibil: A Yucatecan specialty, not often found outside this region. It traditionally consists of chicken marinated in orange and spices then barbecued in banana leaves.
Tacos: Tortillas fried until they are crispy and served with various fillings.
Tamales: Cornmeal paste wrapped in corn or banana husks and often stuffed with chicken, pork or turkey and/or vegetables, then steamed.
Tortas: Mexican sandwiches, often large rolls with generous fillings.
Tostadas: Thin and crisp tortillas served loaded with guacamole, sour cream, chilies, chicken etc.