Mexican Glossary

Mexican glossary

Mexican cuisine is said to be the second most varied and vast in the world (after Chinese).

Tortillas

 A basic part of most any Mexican meal. They are made either of wheat flour (popular in the north of the country) or ground corn, and are best served hot. When fried, they are called tostadas.

Frijoles (beans)

 A standard Mexican dish served with just about everything. Frijoles de olla are boiled beans with seasoning; frijoles refritos are beans mashed and fried.

Salsa

Spicy sauce, served with most everything. It may be made of red tomatoes or green tomatoes (or both), and usually contains chilli pepper, onion, salt and other seasonings. The texture varies from liquid to chunky and relish-like. Each cook and each restaurant has their own recipe.

Guacamole

Avocado mashed or blended with green tomatoes, chilli peppers, onion, garlic and other seasonings.

Queso Fundido

Melted cheese served with tortillas and often with guacamole and/or salsa.

Ceviche

A black fungus that grows as a parasite on ears of corn. It is a delicacy when cooked and served in quesadillas or as a filling for enchiladas.

Flor de Calabaza

Squash flowers, cooked and served in quesadillas or by themselves.

Nopales

Cactus, most commonly served cooked in salads or grilled.

Gorditas

Fried corn dough filled with refried beans or chicharrón and topped with cream, cheese and lettuce.

Huachinango al Mojo de Ajo

Red snapper (fish) fried with lots of chopped garlic. Generally served with the head and tail attached.

Machaca

 Dried shredded beef, sautéed and served with wheat flour tortillas. Sometimes served scrambled with eggs or in various sauces. It is most popular in the northern states of Mexico.

Tamales

Banana tree leaves or corn husks filled with corn meal and sometimes pieces of chicken or meat. Sweet tamales often have sugar and raisins and are served as dessert.

Barbacoa

Mutton, cooked in an underground pit and served in tacos. In the north of the country, they often use goat meat instead of mutton and roast it on a spit.

Tostadas

Fried corn tortillas covered with shredded chicken or beef, refried beans, tomatoes, lettuce, cream and salsa.

Enchiladas

A semi-fried corn tortilla filled most commonly with chicken and covered with cheese, sauce and often cream and onion slices.

Mole

 A truly Mexican sauce composed of ground chilli peppers, many different spices and herbs and a bit of chocolate. It is often referred to as a chocolate sauce in English cookbooks. Mole is usually poured over chicken or turkey, or used to make enchiladas. There are two main types: mole poblano (a deep red-black in colour) and mole oaxaqueño (black).

Romeritos

A herb, somewhat like fresh-cut grass in appearance, prepared in mole sauce or some other sauces

Quesadillas

Fried tortillas filled with cheese, chopped beef, squash flowers, or any one of many other items. It is served with salsa and/or guacamole.

Sope

A grilled tortilla, topped with refried beans, salsa, cheese, chopped onion and often lettuce and meat

Tacos

Soft corn tortilla filled with meat, beans, chicken, pork, or some other food.

Burritos

Wheat flour tortillas filled with meat, cheese, or ham and cheese.

Chorizo

Spicy Mexican sausage, fried and served with scrambled eggs, sprinkled on pizza, made into tacos, spread on sopes, etc.

Chilaquiles Fried tortilla chips served on a platter with sauce, onion slices, and often cheese and/or cream sprinkled on top. Shredded chicken, carne asada, or a fried egg is also often put on top of it all.

Chile Relleno

A chile pepper, stuffed with beef, cheese, or another filling, dipped in beaten egg and fried, then served in a thin tomato broth.

Flan

Rich custard topped with a caramel sauce.

Natilla

A thinner custard pudding.

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