Savor the Flavors of Mexico

Authentic Mexican food is one of the world’s most complex and varied cuisines, a deeply nuanced gastronomy as startlingly original as classic French, earthy Italian or ancient Chinese cooking.

authentic mexican food in Veracruz

Huachinango a la Veracruzana has been called the signature dish of Veracruz

Photo Credit: iStock

Authentic Mexican food resembles cheese-laden Tex-Mex fare the way a strip-mall buffet resembles a genuine Sichuan feast. Mexico’s traditional cuisine is the product of geography and the shifting sands of history—indigenous peoples ground corn for tortillas alongside Spanish conquistadors and Caribbean adventurers.

Mexico boasts substantial natural resources, so its authentic Mexican cuisine includes everything from seafood to barbecue, and hand-crafted corn and flour tortillas to sauce-driven fine dining. Visit the beach towns along the Gulf of Mexico to enjoy savory huachinango a la Veracruzana—fresh-caught red snapper prepared in a light tomato sauce seasoned with bay leaves, onions, capers, olives and sweet yellow peppers. Citrus- and chile-infused ceviche—a piquant curing of raw fish, shrimp or scallops prepared with plenty of spice—is another seaside specialty.

Mole, an authentic mexican food

Mole comes in dozens of varieties

Photo Credit: iStock

Carnivores adore barbacoa from the central highlands; it’s traditionally made by pit-roasting a seasoned young steer or lamb for hours. The resulting fork-tender meat is presented with chiles, onions, cilantro and flour tortillas. To the north, cabrito—roast goat kid—crowns a special occasion; the spiced meat is offered with rice, yucca and roasted potatoes.

Mole, arguably the country’s national sauce, comes in dozens of varieties. It’s a complex, slowly cooked sauce made with pumpkin seeds, chilies and chocolate, and it’s most famous on menus in the state of Puebla and in central Mexico. Preparing mole is arduous, which elevates it to a revered dish worthy of countrywide festivals and family celebrations.

guacamole an authentic mexican food dates back to the Aztecs

Guacamole dates back to the Aztecs

Photo Credit: iStock

If you have time for only one dine-around, head to Mexico City, which offers the greatest hits of authentic Mexican food from all the country’s regions. In the capital’s colorful neighborhoods and markets, you can sample cuisines from humble to haute. The vibrant street food scene features tacos of every combination, as well as delectable tortas—chubby sandwiches overflowing with spiced meat or simmered seafood and spiked with salsa, fresh cilantro and chilies. Guacamole—the combination of avocado, salt and lime juice that dates back to the ancient Aztecs—is ever-present.

For an elegant postscript to a typical Mexican comida (evening meal), nibble on a caramel-infused flan paired with strong Mexican coffee. It’s best enjoyed with a sipping shot of premium oak-aged Añejo tequila, made from 100-percent blue agave found only in the tequila-producing state of Jalisco.

A number of resorts in Mexico offer cooking classes and culinary centers where you can explore the marvels of regional Mexican cuisine.

AAA Travel offers a variety of trips to Mexico. Call 877-396-7159 or contact a AAA Travel Counselor.

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Janice Yip-Hudson, AAA Travel Counselor, Daly City, Calif.

Today, people's lives are so busy. We're thinking three days ahead just to get through our to-do lists. I love helping my clients plan vacations where they have nothing to do but relax; where time stands still, and you're just on vacation.

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