The origins of Mexican food date back thousands of years. It is believed that the cuisine was derived from what the Mayan Indians prepared as far back as 2000 years ago. And even some of the terms are not particularly young. In the U.S., the term enchilada was first referenced in 1885.
The popularity of Mexican food is nothing short of astonishing. It is the most popular ethnic food segment in the United States, having a 42% share of ethnic food sales. Salsa has become the top condiment nationwide, surpassing even the most American of all condiments–ketchup and mayo. Tortillas have been outselling hot dog buns since 2010.
Mexican restaurants are also proliferating. As of 2011, there were 38,000 Mexican restaurants across the United States. One out of 10 restaurants sells Mexican food and 72% of households in the United States use Mexican food and ingredients. This is the most astonishing statistic of all: over 67,000 restaurants in America serve a burrito.
While Mexican cuisine is known to have great taste, a possible rise in the popularity of Mexican food is the surprising nutritional value. The nutritional benefits of Mexican food come from its modest roots and diversity. Mexico is in the top-four of biodiversity within countries, with between 60% and 70% of the well-known diversity of the planet in Mexico.
Some healthy ingredients you may find in a Mexican restaurant include:
- Beans (which some consider one of the most healthy foods on the planet)
- Avocado (generally in the form of guacamole, also healthy)
- Corn tortilla (healthy and nutritious)
Mexican food seems simple by its nature but packs a nutritional punch. The best Mexican restaurants offer authentic dishes with fresh ingredients, always making sure the food comes out hot, well-cooked, and appetizing.
Most Americans are more familiar with “Tex-Mex” than authentic Mexican food. Tex-Mex is the infusion of food from Texas and Mexico, two bordering regions. It occurred in the 1940s and can be seen in many “Mexican” restaurant chains.
It may be difficult at times to find an authentic Mexican restaurant. Ask those who go to Mexican restaurants often. It is worth the time it will take to find one.
The food at Mexican restaurants have an additional bonus if you’re traveling with a lot of health conscious friends. Many Mexican dishes can be turned vegan or vegetarian (meaning no animal products or no meat, respectively), with adds health bonuses even further than the previously mentioned parts. In some cases, it is as easy as removing the cream or cheese from a dish.
Mexican restaurants provide the opportunity to sample food from our neighboring country, one with startling amounts of biodiversity and an ability to turn relatively simple ingredients into tasty and nutritious meals.
Whether it is lettuce or tomato, chicken or beef, cheese or no cheese, garbanzo beans or black beans, Mexican food brings together taste with nutrition in a way few ethnic food types do.