The History of Mexican Dining and Popularity of Mexican Food in the United States

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Did you know that salsa is the most popular condiment in the United States? It has passed up ketchup and mayo in popularity, and since 2010 tortillas have been outselling hot dog buns. As of 2011, there were 38,000 Mexican restaurants across the country. Clearly, Mexican food and Mexican chefs have become a staple of the culinary culture in the United States. Here are a few facts about the history of Mexican food as we know it today.

  1. After much research, it is now believed that the food served by Mayan Indians as far back as 2000 years ago is the root of Mexican cuisine as it is known today. The Mayan Indians were primarily hunter gatherers, and a typical dish was corn tortillas with a bean paste. What a rich history of recipes being passed down and modified through so many generations!
  2. The term “enchilada” has its first known reference in the United States in 1885. However, the concept of tortillas being used as a wrap has a clear link to the cuisine of the Aztecs. The word enchilada is defined as “in chile.”
  3. Oaxaca, a state in Southern Mexico, is one example of a city in Mexico that has a rich culinary history. Over time, Mexican chefs there have developed and made the city famous for its seven moles (sauces). The moles are: Negro (black/chocolate mole), Rojo (red mole), Coloradito (brown mole), Amarillo, Verde, Chichilo, and Manchamantel. There are many, many variations of these moles, but these are the seven that Oaxaca is most popular for.
  4. Mexican chefs continue to find new ways of creating delicious concoctions to serve. One of the more recent chapters in the evolution of Mexican food is that of the creation of TexMex. It happened in the 1940’s, and it is the best example of a culinary integration with Mexico. Texas and Mexico share a border, and TexMex is a delicious combination of cuisines from the two.

Mexican food is a major part of American cuisine today. In the United States, one out of every 10 restaurants sells Mexican food. It boasts the title of the most popular style of international cuisine in the country. For example, at last count there are 67,391 restaurants that have a burrito on their menu.

The popularity of Mexican food isn’t limited to restaurants, though. Mexican food is the most popular ethnic food segment in the United States, and it has a 42% share of sales of ethnic food. A large percentage of American households (71.08%) use Mexican food and ingredients in their home cooking; many of these ingredients can be found at local grocery stores and markets. A lot of consumers (75%) say they are looking for new flavors in ethnic cuisines, and 66% report that they want want bolder flavors and unfamiliar foods.

Mexican food certainly boasts a lot of bold flavors. Whether you choose to dine out at a Mexican restaurant or make your own meal at home, Mexican food is a great choice for a satisfying, delicious meal.

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