This article is so true, the majority of the folks in the USA and Canada have no idea what really is considered Mexican food down here. When I first got here I was surprised at the vast difference in what is Mexican food here and what is perceived as Mexican food in the USA. When I lived in Greenville, South Carolina I used to go to the Mexican restaurants a lot and I would drive through Taco Bell sometimes to pick up crunchy tacos and burritos for a quick meal. I always liked what I thought at the time was authenic Mexican food. I really had no clue about Mexican cuisine until I worked with some Mexicans at the Hot Dog King with my friend Gerald Brown.
A couple of guys that worked in the back were from Veracruz, Mexico and they kind of turned me on the real Mexican food. I would trade them cheeseburgers and french fries for food that their wives cooked for them at home. I got exposed to mole, pico de gallo, empanadas, and other true Mexican dishes.
So when I washed up on the old shores of Mexico, I thought I knew what real Mexican food was, well I was wrong. I eat most of my meals out because of my work schedule, so I eat a lot of local Mexican food. There are several ladies around town that cook meals for me and others and they cook basic Mexican cuisine. They prepare different dishes like, chicken mole, chicken in green sauce, pozole, chicken soup with vegatables, and many other authenic dishes. And guess what, none of these dishes come with sour cream. In fact the whole time I have been in Mexico have I ever seen sour cream in any of the local places I eat at.
Another thing I have come to find out about local Mexican food is, they use every part of the pig, cow, chicken, and fish in the dishes. Fried chicken feet are popular here. When you get fish soup, the whole fish is in the soup, eyes and all.
Last year I met a couple from the USA on the malecon, and they both taught at Temple University and were in Mahahual on vacation. One day I ran into them, and the woman told me she had just had the best tacos of her life here on the malecon. I said where did you get them and she pointed to a guy with bicycle kind of taco cart on the malecon. Well I know this guy who sells the tacos pretty well, and he is a local fixture here. So I asked the lady if she really knew what kind of tacos she had. She said all I know is they great, and he told me they were “Cabeza de Res” tacos. I told her what she had just had was “cow brain” tacos. She then said, “Oh my God I am going to get mad cow disease.” I told her she would be fine that all the locals eat them, and they are fine. So I give her some advice and told her in the future always ask what you getting before you order because sometimes you may be surprised what is in it, because I have been many times myself. After I told her I kind of wish I had not, because she was probably better off not knowing.
And as far as hot sauce, I have learned every place has their own different kind of hot sauce, so always sample with your finger or test it before you put on your food. I have ruined many a meal by putting on some local salsa and come to find out it is way to hot for me,
So I hope you enjoy the article below, it is from http://www.matadornetwork.com a website about Mexico that is English.
1. You have no idea what a real taco is.
If you’re about to try a taco in Mexico for the first time, please erase everything you think you know about a taco. Other than the word “taco,” there’s not much else in common between a Mexican taco and an American or international one.
First off, you probably think tacos have the following ingredients: sour cream, cheddar cheese, flour tortilla (or corn shell), and lettuce. Wrong. In Mexico, it’s practically impossible to find a self-respecting taco stand that would allow these ingredients to be put together.
2. You’re imagining “big-ass burritos.”
Negative on the boot-sized Chipotle-style burrito, although you can find something of similar size in Baja: a plethora of meat, veggie, and salsa options added to a massive baked potato.
3. You’ve never heard of mole, pozole, blue-corn tortillas, elote, esquite, chiles en nogada, chicharrón en chile verde, tacos al pastor, alambre, gringa, atole, champurrado…the list goes on.
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None of the above-mentioned dishes are easily found outside of Mexico, but they are some of the most popular things Mexican people eat. So as you venture into various eateries around the country, be open to the possibility of eating something you’ve never heard of, seen, or tasted before in your life.
4. You’re expecting flour tortillas.
Although flour tortillas are relatively popular in northern Mexico and sometimes used to make quesadillas at suppertime around the country, they’re not featured in Mexican cuisine. To avoid disappointment when craving flour tortillas, find a restaurant that serves fresh-made corn tortillas hot off the comal.
5. You’re ready for margaritas and popping limes in your beer.
Although the world thinks of the margarita as a Mexican drink, it’s highly unlikely you’ll find one outside of the tourist destinations. And if you think Mexicans love to shove slices of lime down their beers, think again.
Sticking a foreign object into a beer is frowned upon — with the strange exception of the Michelada, wherein beer poured into a salt-rimmed glass with soy sauce, tamarind paste, clam juice, chili powder, lime juice, etc is somehow okay. Go figure.
6. You’re expecting Tex-Mex guacamole.
Don’t expect to find the chunky, pureed guacamole you’re used to seeing everywhere in the States. Many places don’t even serve the heavenly dip, while others mix it with green salsa, making a soupy guacamole with strong lime and tomatillo flavors and less emphasis on the avocado.
7. You have no context when it comes to chili content.
Many salsas in Mexico have a chili content that makes typical American / international-Mexican-restaurant-style salsa look like tomato sauce.
8. You fail to grasp the power of the tamal.
When you see doñas with buckets of tamales, you’re not seeing just another street vendor, but the product of half a day’s work (or more) tending a fire, shaping corn masa in husks, adding chicken mole, or beans, or chapil leaves, or sweet elote. And then boiling them for hours.
On days when it’s so hot you have no appetite, unwrapping a few steaming tamales can literally save your life. That’s how good they are.
Thanks for reading,
Stewart Rogers USA-South Carolina