Mexico: the land of chile, spice and everything nice

Reinas del Norte! Reinas del Sur! Reinas del Este y Oeste! Today’s blog is for you! We are covering the best dishes of our beloved Mexico based on region. La gastronomía de Mexico is as diverse as its people. It is as rich as our lands and as abundant as our natural wonders.

It is said that the cuisine of Mexico is divided into seven regions. We all know that the number 7 is lucky right? Bueno, como Mexicanos, we are lucky in so many ways and having the best food is one of them. Our cuisine is divided into regions based on their location, resources and history.

Region 1: Donde están mis Reinas del Norte? People from Chihuahua, Coahuila, Durango, Zacatecas, Aguascalientes, Nuevo Leon, and Tamaulipas belong to this region. My family is originally from Tamaulipas so, for us, that means a lot of beef. Fajitas are plentiful in this region along with cabrito and what we affectionately like to call Tex-Mex. Tex-Mex is a fusion of the best parts of Texas and the best parts of Mexico. Think fajitas, queso, carne asada, frijoles y tortillas. In this region, it is not uncommon to find burritos and different types of cheeses. There are at least 40 varieties of flour tortillas in this region!

Region 2: Las Reinas del Oceano Pacifico! Mexico’s Pacific coast towns like Sinaloa, Nayarit, Jalisco, and Colima boast some of the best cheeses and chiles in the country. It is also known to supply a lot of the country’s grains, vegetables and fruits. In this region are the cities of Jalisco, known for its tequila; Guadalajara, known for birria; and Tonalá known for its pozole. We also can’t leave out the abundance of seafood! This area boasts some of the best black sea bass, tuna, shrimp and octopus in the country!

Region 3: El Bajío. Reinas de Michoacán, Guanajuato, San Luis Potosi and Queretaro fill their kitchens with pork, rice and spices. Morisqueta is a popular rice dish from this area that includes onions, tomatoes, garlic, melted cheese and beans. Some cocineras from this region also include chorizo or other meats in this dish. And no Mexican dish is complete without a little cotija cheese, verdad? This region includes the town of Cotija, well known for this cheese we all know and love. El Bajio is also known because of one of my favorite desserts: cajeta! Cajeta on top of ice cream is a great way to finish a meal.

Region 4: Las reinas indígenas! The highlands of Oaxaca, Guerrero, and Chiapas have the most indigenous cuisine in Mexico. Staples such as chicken, pork, chocolate and spices are abundant here. This region has created a version of mozzarella cheese known as queso Oaxaca. Trust me when I say, it’s delicious! Oaxacan cuisine also includes some of the most diverse types of mole! Because spices are abundant and varied here, it’s not uncommon to see Negro (black), Amarillo (yellow), Coloradito (little red), Mancha Manteles (tablecloth stainer), Chichilo (smoky stew), Rojo (red), and Verde (green). Chiapas brings the chile with their chile de siete caldos being one of the spiciest of the region.

Region 5: Vamos al Sur! Campeche, Yucatán and Quintana Roo have distinct flavors influenced by Mayan cuisine as well as the Caribbean, Europe, and Asia. Corn is abundant here and it is used in both food and drink. Achiote is a spice made with annatto seed and it is used to add a smoky flavor to meat, fish, and poultry. Cochinita Pibil, the area’s most popular dish, is a pork dish wrapped in banana leaves and covered in achiote. It is delicious! La vida tropical also allows us an abundance of fruits like tamarido, mamey, aguacate and bitter oranges. These fruits are added to main courses, salsas and desserts alike.

Region 6: Tabasqueras y Veracruzanas acérquense! This region is influenced by indigenous, Afro-Cuban and Spanish cuisines. Corn and vanilla are popular here as well as the herbs hoja santa and acuyo. European herbs can be found in dishes like the Huachinango a la Veracruzana; red snapper with light tomato sauce, bay leaves, onions, olives, capers and sweet yellow peppers. The Afro-Cuban cuisine brings us pollo encacahuatado or chicken in peanut sauce as well as plantains, yucca and sweet potatoes. Tráeme el Tabasco! The city of Tabasco is not only known for the hot sauce that bears its name, it is also known for its unrivaled seafood dishes.

Region 7: Donde estan las reinas chilangas? Puebla, Morelos, Tlaxcala, Hidalgo and Distrito Federal reinas are known for their haute cuisine. Fusion dishes are popular here as this cuisine is heavily influenced by the other regions of Mexico. It is not uncommon to see taquerias, tortas y mas on every street: think Manhattan with a bit of sazón and a lot of chile. This region can go from small stands on the street to a high-end culinary experience from one block to the next and it is not uncommon to see restaurants featuring pre-Hispanic dishes that include insects. Crickets, anyone? Whether on the street corner or in the hottest restaurant in town, one thing is for sure; the meals are a delight to the palate.

Bueno reinas, que les pareció? De que región son ustedes? Mexican cuisine is as close to our hearts as our family. Whether from a small or large town, we take great pride in our kitchens and the foods we prepare. How we cook it and the ingredients we use depends on where we are from and the influences that surround us. One thing is for certain, we all cook with love, passion y mucho sabor, verdad? Until next time, mis reinas! See you in the kitchen!

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