Main Ingredients in Mexican Food

Main Ingredients In Mexican Food

I have very fond memories from childhood of my mother cooking in the kitchen traditional Spanish and Mexican dishes. Associated with those memories are a host of sensory impressions, most prominent being smell.  Her cooking would fill the whole house with delicious scents emanating from the main ingredients in Mexican food that were always present in our home.

Main Ingredients in Mexican Food

For anyone who doesn’t already know I am pleased to bring you the most important ingredients (at least in my opinion) in traditional Mexican food.

Avocados

If you do not have avocados stocked in your pantry you are missing out on a host of delicious Mexican dishes.  Avocados most prominently are used to make guacamole.  I remember my mother’s homemade guacamole.  She used 5-8 avocados, added diced onions a little sugar and lime juice.  Of course, guacamole can also be used as a topping for many traditional Mexican foods such as tortas.

Tomatoes

While tomatoes may be an important staple the world over, the Mexican use of tomatoes reaches into almost every dish which is why it is on this list.  Personally, my mother used tomatoes to make her Spanish rice.  She also included it in tortilla soup, steak picado and even her guacamole.

Poblanos

The thing I like most about Mexican food is that it is spicy but not esophageal erosion spicy.  One of the secrets to attaining this perfect balance of spice, mildness and flavor is the use of poblano chilies. They can be used in a variety of ways but I remember them being used mainly in homemade salsas and chili rellenos.

Main Ingredients In Mexican Food

Main Ingredients In Mexican Food

Limes

I may be overstating a concept that is fundamentally simple but in my opinion, limes make all Mexican foods better.  In my house, limes were usually chopped into quarters and served on a small dish on the dinner table for everyone to grab and squeeze onto their food as they wished.

One of the best uses for limes from my childhood home was to squeeze a whole quarter slice’s worth of lime juice into my mother’s Albondigas (meatball soup).

Mexican Cheese

If you have ever eaten a Mexican dish in your life you probably know how important queso is to Mexican cuisine.  Take for example the Enchilada.  An enchilada is like Mexican lasagna and it relies heavily on cheese.

My sister makes some killer enchiladas and her cheese of choice is queso fresco.  It gives the dish a bit of natural saltiness and melts to perfection. Pepperjack cheese was also a pretty common cheese in my home growing up for making quesadillas.  It added a good level of spiciness…before tapatío was inevitably added of course.  Last but not in any way least…

Tortillas

I couldn’t think of any food more essential to Mexican cuisine or any better way to round off this list than the all-important tortilla.  My mother use to tell me stories about growing up poor in Los Angeles and how her mother, no matter how bad things were would always have tortillas in the house.  She would give my mom and my aunts and uncle flour tortillas adorned with nothing more than melted butter when things were especially tight.

Tortillas are more than a staple food for the poor of course.  My mom never made her own but she always went to tortillerías to buy freshly made corn and flour tortillas.  I remember using flour tortillas to sop up the juices from steak picado, scooping up Spanish rice with sour cream into a tortilla, and dousing a corn tortilla with the broth from my mother’s albondigas.

Tortillas are indispensible ingredients in enchiladas and of course tacos and burritos as well as other traditional Mexican dishes that I am sure I am forgetting.

Well there you have it; my list of the most important ingredients in Mexican cuisine.  For more information on other main ingredients in Mexican food, check out this article about Mexican Chocolate.

 

Feast of the Immaculate Conception

Feast of the Immaculate Conception

The feast of the Immaculate Conception is a holy day in the Catholic Church that is celebrated every year on December 8th.  It is a day that shows just how important a figure the Virgin Mary is to Latinos and Catholics all over the world.  You may be thinking right off the bat that the feast of the Immaculate Conception is the day that Mary was impregnated with Christ but that is a popular mistake that people make.  In fact the feast of the Immaculate Conception celebrates Mary’s own birth.

Feast of the Immaculate Conception – Reasoning

It seemed incumbent for the Catholic Church to stress the special way not only that Christ was born, but also the unique and holy way that his mother was born as well.  In 1854 Pope Pius IX made it dogma the concept of Mary’s birth: she was not born of a virgin birth but at her conception, she was absolved of the original sin that tarnished every human being upon conception.

This was necessary if she was to ultimately become the virgin mother of the messiah.  This exception not only made her conception holy, but her entire life as well because it was also accepted as Dogma that Mary never sinned a day in her life and was kept consecrated so that she could give the purest of births to Christ.

This is another reason why Mary is prayed to and seen as such an important figure in the Catholic Church. She is the only human being to have never committed one transgression against God.

Feast of the Immaculate Conception

Feast of the Immaculate Conception

Immaculate Conception Day

Now that we have a bit of background on the feast of the Immaculate Conception let’s talk about how it is celebrated and why it is important in the Latin community.  Immaculate Conception day has actually been made a public holiday in many Latin countries. However, no matter what country you are in, if you are of the Catholic faith the feast of the Immaculate Conception is a day of obligation.  This means that mass must be attended.  The mass is the focal point of the celebration.

It is celebrated in different ways all over the world.  For example, one tradition of the holiday is The Dance of the Six which is essentially a procession of children dressed in especially bejeweled garments carry a likeness of Mary over their heads through the streets.

In Nicaragua, the day resembles what we Americans would see as a combination of 2 big holidays in our country.  They set up alters in front of their homes and neighbors come by and sing songs and to exchange gifts.  Kind of sounds like carolers on Christmas right?  When the evening falls, firecrackers are lit in the streets.  Sort of sounds like Independence Day doesn’t it?

At any rate, no matter where you are or how you celebrate the feast of the Immaculate Conception, there is a very strong, spiritual unifying theme that is present.  At its heart the feast of the Immaculate Conception is a day to focus on one’s own spirituality and relationship with god.  This is why it is so important in Latino culture.

We are meant to draw closer to god by drawing closer to our family and focusing on being more like Mary and Christ.  For more information about the traditions of this holiday check out Little Candles Day in Colombia.

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