Food Fiesta: A Culinary A-Z of Mexico

Mexico is the land of flavours—eclectic and explosive. From jaliscos to pueblos, here’s a list of the country’s favourite recipes.| By Nicholas Gilman, Liz Dodd & Kate Armstrong  
Food Fiesta: A Culinary A-Z of Mexico
Due to the vibrancy of local ingredients, Mexican food often comes alive with the colours of the sun and the sea (top left); In Oaxaca is famous for a variety of mezcal drinks (top right); the chicken leg with mole poblano (bottom left) is one of Puebla’s most famous dishes; a street cafe (bottom right) in Campeche teems with activity. Rob Hamme/Aurora Open/Getty images (sea); Hossein Amirsadeghi/Mexico: A Culinary Quest published by Thames & Hudson (drink); Avalos Flores/Maricruz/Stockfood (chicken); Kumar Sriskandan/Alamy Stock Photo/Alamy (cafe)

With its snowy peaks, seafood-rich ocean waters and cactus plains, Mexico’s landscape is as colourful and varied as the cuisine it produces. We’ve compiled a guide to some of the country’s best-loved recipes, dishes and street food snacks, so you can be confident you know tequila from raicilla and tamales from nopales.



One of the country’s most versatile snacks, this dough pocket is filled with savoury (or occasionally sweet) ingredients and baked or fried. Empanada fillings vary regionally, with options including spicy pork, chicken, prawns and plantain.



Beans—or frijoles—are used in the majority of Mexican dishes, whether accompanying meat dishes or used as a filling in molletes (open-faced sandwiches) or gorditas (stuffed pastries). Speckled pinto beans form the base of frijoles refritos (a dish of cooked and mashed beans), while black beans are used in sauces, soups and fillings for enchiladas and burritos.



It’s worth making the trip to this central Mexican city for one restaurant alone: family-owned Casa Mercedes, where chefs painstakingly recreate historic recipes. Moles are made by hand, with a molcajete used for grinding spices. Try the signature slow-cooked pork shank or seasonal escamoles (ant larvae) with grasshoppers and guacamole.



A base of fried masa (corn dough) is shaped to take the form of a Mexican huarache sandal, then topped with ingredients like salsa, onion, potato, minced beef and cheese. It’s a popular choice in Mexico City.


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