“What is your island food?”
Someone asked me this question many moons ago and I failed to understand the meaning. It was later explained to me that your “island food” is the style of food you’d voluntarily eat everyday if you were stuck on an island and could only choose one style of food to eat for the rest of your life.
Once the concept was understood, I knew my answer immediately. In fact, I’m sure I had voluntarily eaten this style of food for weeks on end without complaint.
Mexican food is my island food. And in the next few minutes, I’m going to convert you into a Mexican food fanatic too. Here are the 7 dishes that made me a “lifer”.
Mole is a traditional Mexican sauce made from a variety of ingredients like chili peppers, nuts, spices, and chocolate. It’s typically served over chicken or pork but can arguably be drizzled on any Mexican dish you can think of.
I didn’t understand the hype around mole until I took my first bite. The combination of sweet, savory, and spicy flavors was unlike anything I had ever tasted before. And the more I ate, the more addicted I became.
If you haven’t tried it, next time you see it on a menu, get it! Once you try a mole that truly blows you away, you’ll become obsessed with trying it at every restaurant you visit. You’ll be a “lifer” like me.
A tamale is a corn-based dough that’s steamed in a corn husk or banana leaf and typically filled with meats, cheeses, or veggies.
This is the food I was referring to when I said that I had voluntarily eaten it for a few weeks straight. I love how versatile they are and how there’s always something new to try.
Unlike a lot of Mexican food, the base ingredients in tamales are completely gluten free, making this a treat for those with celiacs or gluten sensitivities.
My personal favorite is the chicken, cheese and chili tamale. It’s packed with flavor and puts all my favorite qualities together; fat, savory and heat.
Corn Tortilla Street Tacos
I know we’re all fans of the flour tortilla, but hear me out. Corn tacos are where it’s at.
I’m not talking about those hard, flavorless shells you can get at any Mexican restaurant in America. I’m talking about fresh, soft corn tortillas that are made from scratch and filled with deliciousness.
When I eat, I like to EAT. That means I need it to be flavorful enough to give my taste buds a rise, but light enough to where I can joyfully eat 3….. or 10.
And chances are, you’re the same way.
So why street tacos?
Street tacos are of the smaller variety and thus allow you to order different types of tacos without getting too full. It gives you the chance to test more of the menu without sending yourself into cardiac arrest.
Pozole is a traditional Mexican soup made with hominy and pork. It’s typically served with shredded cabbage, radishes, lime, and chili peppers.
I’m a sucker for anything that comes in a big bowl and this hearty soup is the perfect example of why. It’s filling but not too heavy and the toppings add the perfect amount of crunch and acidity.
If you’re lucky enough to have a friend who’s mastered the skills of creating this savory soup, invite yourself over for dinner. You won’t regret it.
Picadillo is a dish made with ground beef (or shredded beef), tomatoes, onions, and spices. It’s typically served with rice and beans but some people enjoy it with some freshly made tortillas.
This is one of the most recent discoveries I made in Latin American cuisine and I’m a little obsessed now.
If you’re not accustomed to the heat of authentic Mexican food, the picadillo is a great place to start. It’s flavorful but not overwhelming and the beef is cooked until it’s nice and tender.
Horchata is a traditional Mexican drink made with rice, water, cinnamon, and sugar.
It is the perfect refresher on a hot day or after a spicy meal and once you’ve become acquainted, it’ll be hard to resort back to any other sweet beverage.
It’s sweet, creamy, and has just the right amount of cinnamon flavor. If you order it at a restaurant, it will most likely come to you sweetened with condensed milk. But if you want to try it the traditional way, ask for it without milk.
Tres Leches Cake
Tres leches cake is a sponge cake that’s soaked in three kinds of milk (condensed, evaporated, and heavy cream) and topped with whipped cream.
Sweets are a problem for me. Once I start, I can’t stop. But with tres leches, I can appreciate it without overindulging. I’ve found the combination of the three milks gives it a rich flavor that makes me appreciate it without needing to inhale myself into a food coma.
If you can, eat it with some Mexican hot chocolate. You can thank me later.
When it comes to Mexican food, there’s a lot to love. The tamales, street tacos, pozole, and picadillo are just a few of the dishes that I absolutely adore. And don’t even get me started on horchata and tres leches cake.
If you haven’t had a chance to try authentic Mexican cuisine, I urge you to do so. And if you have, then you know exactly what I’m talking about.
So go out, explore, and most importantly, eat!