Mexican food has become increasingly popular in the United States, with Mexican chefs bringing new appreciation and skill to a cuisine that has been around for a very long time. Mexican chefs are working in new Mexican restaurants all around the country, but Mexican chefs will be the first to tell you that Mexican food is anything but a new fad.
In fact, Mexican food has been an enduring favorite for many years not in its native Mexico, but in the United States as well, particularly the Southwest region. In fact, one out of every ten restaurants in the United States considers itself a Mexican restaurant. This makes Mexican food the most popular style of cuisine in the United States, let alone Mexico (good news for Mexican chefs). By 2011, there were nearly 40,000 Mexican restaurants established in the United States alone, with plans for more. Almost every neighborhood has a well loved and popular Mexican restaurant, and now over 70% of all households in the United States incorporate ingredients into their everyday lives and cooking. Take salsa, for example. It’s a condiment typically made of tomatoes, onions, garlic, peppers, and other ingredients (there is a lot of room for experimentation and diversification with salsa), and it has become the number one condiment all around the nation, usurping condiments like ketchup and mustard, which are considered more traditional to the United States. Not to mention, tortillas now sell more than hot dog buns, and have for nearly the last decade.
Mexican food and Mexican chefs are in part so popular because of the dynamic flavor of their foods. Surveys have shown that around 75% of consumers in the United States are looking to branch out when it comes to cuisine, seeking new and bold flavors. Mexico, with its diverse background in food, can provide just that. Though many people in the United States think of Mexico as one solid entity, it is a diverse country with many different regions and regional dishes. Take Oaxaca for example, well known for its Mole sauces. In Oaxaca, there are seven popular types of Mole sauce – one is even chocolate flavored. And Mexico as a whole is considered to be megabiodiverse, which means that it has up to 70% of all of the well known diversity on the entire planet.
Mexican food and Mexican dishes also have an important and long lasting history. What we now know today as traditional Mexican cuisine has actually been found to date back to food that the Mayan Indians prepared, at least 2000 years ago – if not more. And enchiladas, a popular Mexican food item commonly prepared by Mexican chefs, can be traced back to the Aztec people, who were known to use a tortilla as a wrap. Even though the modern enchilada as we know it today was not popularized until the late 19th century, it’s origin and history goes much further back than that.
But Mexican food and Mexican chefs are also no stranger to innovation and change, particularly when it comes to Mexican restaurants in certain regions of the United States. Take Mexican food and restaurants in Texas, for example. Tex Mex is considered an integration of two cuisines – Mexican and American – and has been an enduring staple cuisine since the 1940s. In the United States alone, nearly 70,000 menus list a burrito as a menu item, even though not all of these restaurants consider themselves to serve traditionally Mexican cuisine or even consider themselves to be a Mexican restaurant. Aspects of Mexican cuisine can be found in all different styles of food and restaurants around the United States, and Mexican chefs have proven themselves to be innovative and resourceful with their ingredients, finding new flavor combinations for traditional standbys.
Mexican food has proven to be a staple in the United States, one that is not going anywhere anytime soon. Mexican restaurants are increasingly more popular, and aspects of Mexican cuisine as well as traditionally Mexican foods and ingredients have become commonplace in the average American home. Mexican food and cuisine have brought a new depth of flavor to American cooking, and have added innovation and boldness to our culinary endeavors.