Fiery, flavourful, fabulous: Mexican cuisine guarantees non-stop excitement for your taste-buds. Our California correspondent Kristen Cashman has picked her favourites from the region’s cornucopia of culinary delights – you could try these too.
Guacamole and tortilla chips
A scrumptious mash-up of avocados, sea salt, tomatoes, onions, lime juice, and cilantro, guacamole is most commonly served with tortilla chips. Tortillas — flat, disc-shaped breads made from corn or sometimes flour —form a mainstay of the Mexican diet. When deep-fried, they become a crispy vehicle for dips and salsas.
Top a tortilla with deep-fried or grilled catch of the day, pile on some condiments, fold it in half, and voilà! The condiments include shredded cabbage or lettuce, lime juice, diced onions, and a variety of sauces — known as salsas — of chiles, tomatoes, tomatillos, avocados, sour cream and/or mayonnaise.
With dozens of regional varieties, mole is considered a national treasure. This rich, complex sauce of chile peppers and spices can contain up to 30 ingredients, including chocolate, and it takes a whole day to prepare by hand. Usually topping poultry or pork, mole has a deep flavour that enlivens any meal.
This breakfast masterpiece consists of fried corn tortillas topped with fried eggs and a salsa of tomatoes and chiles. When pierced, the runny yolks ooze into a sublime union with the refried (that is, cooked and mashed) pinto beans and rice that fill the rest of the plate.
As you survey the Mexican desert, it’s hard to imagine eating a prickly pear cactus, but when peeled and de-spined, the plant becomes a unique delicacy. Commonly served in salads or with eggs or meat, nopales have a tart flavor and a texture reminiscent of grilled bell peppers or overcooked green beans.
The article was published in Travel Secrets magazine's July - August 2013 issue. To subscribe, visit Magzter