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Seven Mexican Dishes to Pleasure the Palate

Seven Mexican Dishes to Pleasure the Palate

Posted by Alejandra Romo on September 04, 2013

Mexico's cuisine is as varied as it is delicious. From the hearty pozole of Central Mexico, the bittersweet cochinita pibil of the Yucatán peninsula, the thick moles and sweet chiles en nogada of Puebla and the crisp tlayudas of Oaxaca, topped with beans, avocado and farmhouse cheese, to the spicy birria of Jalisco or the smoky cabrito of Nuevo León, the list is endless. These are the seven dishes Negocios has selected as representative of Mexico's culinary roots, which draw on many different cultures. Dishes that tickle all five senses and that are symbolic of a cuisine that has won over palates worldwide.

By Antonio Vázquez

The Mexican Flag on a Plate

Chiles en nogada is a dish with a history all its own.

In 1821, as a special treat for Emperor Agustín de Iturbide on his 38th birthday, the nuns at the convent of Santa Mónica, Puebla, invented this icon of Mexican cuisine. Legend has it the city had been decked out in the colors of the recently created Mexican flag in honor of the selfappointed emperor's visit, colors that the nuns replicated on a plate: green poblano chili peppers stuffed with minced meat, dried fruit and seeds, smothered in a white walnut-and-goat's-cheese sauce, decorated with parsley and red pomegranate seeds.

Iturbide met his death by firing squad at 41, but the dish created in his honor lived on in Mexico's culinary memory and is eaten in July, August and September, which is walnut season in Puebla.

Divine Inspiration

Derived from the Náhuatl molli or mulli, which translates as "salsa", mole is a kind of thick sauce that was popular in Mexico before the arrival of the Spanish and that is generally served with poultry.

There are many types of mole, but perhaps the most famous is the one from Puebla, which is attributed to Andrea de la Asunción, a nun from the Santa Rosa convent.

Back in the 17th century, this industrious nun took it upon herself to serve up an enriched version of this Pre-Columbian dish to a visiting bishop. In a mortar, she mixed chocolate, peanuts, several varieties of chili, toasted corn, tomatoes, almonds, raisins, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, sesame seeds, clove, cinnamon, onion, garlic and a whole host of other ingredients from Asia, Europe and the New World to produce a complex sauce that is now synonymous with Mexican cuisine.

The precursor to the Puebla variety was the black mole eaten by the Zapotec and Mixtec of Oaxaca before the Conquest. Darker and thicker, it is made with black chili peppers, roasted avocado leaves, peanuts and aniseed.

Pozole, An Ancestral Broth

Pozole is a broth made with popped corn. After the Spanish Conquest, pork found its way into the mix. The pozole of Guerrero is green, while the versions served up in Western and Central Mexico are typically white or red.

The name pozole comes from the Náhuatl cahíta posoli, which means "to cook corn". For this particular dish, a type of corn known as cacahuazintle is used.

A throwback to the Mesoamerica of old, it takes two whole days to make pozole from start to finish. The kernels of corn are left to soak in a mixture of water and lime for a day until they pop and then they are washed. The meat is cooked separately with a variety of natural seasonings and the corn is added last.

The pozole is served in a bowl, preferably a clay one, topped with sliced lettuce, hot salsa, radish, onion and lime. Hot and wholesome, this is traditional Mexican comfort food.


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