Mexican Cuisine – Turning Hard Corn Kernels Into Something Eatable

Mexican Cuisine – Turning Hard Corn Kernels Into Something Eatable

In every part of the world and from every culture there is a story to be told not just about the people and their culture, but their cuisine as well.

There’s history behind every recipe and particular custom that goes into making a dish.

Historic Mexican Cuisine

Mexican cuisine is one of the most historic the world has to offer, and the history is evident in every Mexican dish that is put together.

Mexican cuisine can be traced back to 7000 B.C.E. The indigenous peoples of Mexico and Central America were able to eat wild chile peppers, beans and corn.

Corn became a part of their diet in 1200 B.C.E. They had learned to farm corn and through a system called Nixtamalization, they were able to soften the hard corn kernels for grinding.

With the ground corn they made tortillas and other corn based recipes.

What Is Nixtamalization

Nixtamalization is a traditional maize preparation process in which dried corn kernels are cooked and steeped in an alkaline solution, which is typically water and calcium hydroxide a food grade lime.

Graphic Image Credit: International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center

After steeping in the alkaline solution the maize is drained, rinsed and the outer kernel cover called the pericarp is removed.

Next the kernels are milled to produce a dough that is the base of over 300 Mexican food products, which includes tortillas and tamales.

As mentioned earlier, Nixtamalization is native to Mexico, though the time in history they learned the process is not know.

Turning Hard Corn Kernels Into Something Eatable

Here are some traditional Mexican plates that have been part of Mexican cuisine for 2000 years or longer.

The Ancient Tostada

Tostadas date back about 2,000 years ago and is said to be invented in Oaxaca, Mexico around the Monte Alban ruins.

Tostadas became a delicious and hearty way to extend and make use of leftover tortillas that were no longer fresh enough to fold for tacos but still fresh enough to be eaten.

Tostada quite literally means “toasted” and typically refers to dishes made over crispy flat tortillas that are either oven toasted or fried.

Find recipe here: BBQ Chicken & Roasted Garlic Black Bean Tostadas.

The Ancient Quesadilla

Quesadillas were developed after Spanish settlers arrived to Mexico in the 16th century.

Turnovers (filled pastries) were very popular in Medieval Spain.

Old world ingredients, such as cheese, chicken or turkey were combined with New World foods such as tortilla (tlaxcalli in Nahuatl) to create what is now known as the quesadilla.

Find recipe here: Chicken Quesadillas.

The Ancient Taco

The taco as we know it today is a blend of ancient Mexican recipes and International influences.

However, before it was known in America, natives in Mexico were eating a version that looked quite different.

Some believe the taco was invented between 1000 and 500 B.C.E.

An article published by the Smithsonian, states the origin of a taco is not exactly known.

Professor Jeffrey M. Pilcher at the University of Minnesota suspects that the taco comes from Mexican silver miners, who likely were the first to invent such a convenient entrée.

Such a theory dates the taco all the way back to the 18th century, making it more than 300 years old.

The original tacos did not contain the cheese, lettuce, sour cream, and tomato that we associate with the meal today.

In fact, the taco as we know it is less than 100 years old.

Find recipes here:

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