“What should I have to eat?” is the question we ask ourselves when we are presented with a menu, this dilemma becomes even more difficult when abroad and we see a list of things we have never heard of. Not wanting you to miss out on some fantastic fare for not knowing what it is, here for you is a description of six delicious dishes you are likely to come across on your travels in Mexico.
You will likely find this dish at the breakfast buffet of our hotels. Chilaquiles consists of tortilla chips covered in hot red or green sauce, (the sauces are based on using green or red serrano chilies and tomatoes) topped with sour cream, mild white cheese, raw slices of onion, and coriander. Sometimes shredded chicken and scrambled or fried eggs are also added, accompanied by frijoles (refried beans).
Pozole is a hearty broth made up of hominy corn with chicken, pork or vegetables and plenty of herbs and spices. The dish is traditionally stewed for hours, often overnight. When serving, other ingredients are placed at the table to be added according to taste, such as lettuce, onion, oregano, lime, radishes, pepper, fried tortillas and pork rinds.
Probably the most famous Yucatecan dish of all, cochinita pibil is a pork dish marinated in spices and achiote (an orange-red coloured condiment derived from the seeds of the achiote tree) and dissolved in orange juice. The pork is then wrapped in banana leaves and, traditionally speaking, cooked underground over hot stones for many hours, leaving the pork tender and succulent. This cooking process is where it gets its name, as pibil in Mayan means ‘cooked underground’. The shredded pork is often garnished with pickled onions and enjoyed in tortillas as a taco. You may also find pollo pibil, the chicken version, on the menu at our hotels.
Considered by many to be Mexico’s national dish, Mole Poblano consists of a rich sauce made from around 20 ingredients including chilli peppers, nuts, seeds, vegetables, chocolate and other condiments. The flavour of chocolate comes to the fore in this dish from the state of Puebla, and getting the sauce to the right consistency is a labour of love. Once ready, the sauce is normally served over chicken or turkey and accompanied by rice and frijoles.
Tamales were first developed for the Aztec, Mayan and Inca tribes who needed nourishing food on the go to take into battle. Made with a starchy, thick, corn-based dough and stuffed with either a sweet or savoury filling, the tamale is then wrapped in banana leaves or cornhusks and steamed. Fillings vary from meats and cheeses to fruits, vegetables, chilies and mole. Once unwrapped from the banana leaf, they’re typically topped with a salsa.
Tacos al pastor
This dish was influenced by Lebanese immigrants who brought with them the tradition of spit-roasting meats, normally lamb. Mexican shepherds adapted the Lebanese style of spit-roasting lamb, using pork instead, lending its name al pastor which in English means ‘in the style of the shepherd’. The pork is marinated in spices and chilies and placed on a long spit. Thin strips of pork are cut by the taquero and served on tortillas. Sliced pineapple, onion, cilantro, salsa and lime juice are added according to taste.