Misconceptions and clichés around Mexican cuisine are in abundance. True delicacies from the land of “Me-hi-co” are exciting, full of flavours and rich in culture, but many stereotypes now exist across the globe, so it can be challenging to know if you’re feasting on authentic Mexican food or not!
Elena Aspe, Head Honcho of Aberdeen’s Mexican street food destination, Muchacho, aims to dispel these common Mexican myths.
She says, “Hola amigos! Having been lucky enough to travel and live across the world, and by growing up with Latin influences from my Latino parents, I have developed a passion for flavour. Mexican food is a clear favourite for me, and having encountered our fair share of unsatisfying and, let’s say, bland ‘Mexican’ food, the truly authentic tastes stood out by a mile, and definitely tingled our taste buds!
“That’s why it’s our mission to provide authentic Mexican street food flavours and educate the city about what really constitutes Mexican cuisine. Here are my top three Mexican myth-busters – some you may already know but some may change your perception of Mexican food!”
1. Mexican food isn’t always spicy
Trust us, not all Mexican food will set your mouth on fire! Does it surprise you that Mexican food is my utmost favourite, yet I don’t like spicy food?
Authentic Mexican food does have a bit of a spicy reputation, and this is one of the most common mistakes to make. Despite a lot of Mexican recipes including chillies and spices, not all are actually spicy.
We’ll be using the Poblano chilli a lot in our dishes, which combines complex sweetness with subtle heat.
There are also variations in Mexican food across different regions, and in Yucatán, south-eastern Mexico, dishes are noticeably less spicy.
At Muchacho, all of our dishes will have varying levels of spice too, so the fabulous flavours will be suitable for all you foodie fanatics out there, regardless of your spice tolerance levels!
2. Fajitas aren’t truly Mexican, and Tex-Mex is not authentic Mexican cuisine
Fajitas were actually born in Texas and are the invention of the Tex-Mex cuisine that is sweeping globe, so they aren’t a truly Mexican offering!
Although Texas was part of Mexico until XIX century, and therefore has Mexican roots, dishes like fajitas are Tex-Mex not Mexican, and aren’t found in authentic Mexican restaurants.
The line between the two is continually blurring, but the key difference between can be summarised by the use of certain ingredients; cumin, yellow cheese and wheat flour are typical of Tex-Mex, but are rarely found in Mexican cuisine. Although a staple topping in Tex-Mex, sour cream is also non-existent in Mexican cuisine and instead crema is used, which is thinner and less sour.
Although there are countless differences, as well as similarities, freshness and healthiness are key in Mexican cuisine, not Tex-Mex, which leads me on to my next point…
3. Authentic Mexican food isn’t high in fat or greasy
Another misconception is that Mexican food is fattening, greasy, and smothered in cheese. This is actually not true, and in fact quite the opposite!
In Mexico, there’s a huge focus on fresh produce, fresh herbs and spices, and making everything from scratch. Going back in time, the Aztecs cooked with ingredients on-hand, which happened to be fresh vegetables, grains and meats – substantially healthier than Tex-Mex!
Cheese is often a rarity too, and usually just a sprinkle is added to enhance a dish. This is a direct contrast to the stodgy and calorific dishes many people associate with this type of cuisine, which is growing in popularity with the Tex-Mex craze.
People think Mexican cuisine is all about cheese, hard-shell tacos and fried produce, which is absolutely not true – authentic Mexican food can actually be very healthy, packed with vegetables and full of nutrients!
So, whether you’re eating Mexican food tonight, next week or mañana, have a think about its authenticity. We can’t wait to welcome you through the doors of our street food destination to sample the real thing for yourself!
• For more information about Muchacho, the Muchacho team and its mission, visit www.muchacho.co.uk.