Mexican food (cuisine) is primarily a fusion of indigenous Mesoamerican cooking with European, especially Spanish, elements added after the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire in the 16th century. The staples are native foods, such as corn, beans, avocados, tomatoes, and chili peppers, along with rice, which was brought by the Spanish. Europeans introduced a large number of other foods, the most important of which were meats from domesticated animals (beef, pork, chicken, goat, and sheep), dairy products (especially cheese), and various herbs and spices.
Here are some other facts you must know about Mexican Food:
1. Taco Bell may have popularized tacos, but the history of tacos dates back to the Mexican Revolution, when refugees brought the food to the United States.
2. Tortillas were once canned. During the 1980s, many Americans could only find canned tortillas, a creation that can be attributed to El Paso’s George N. Ashley. Ashley first sold the product in 1938 and had some success, but his creation can no longer be found on supermarket shelves today.
3. Fajitas were made famous by Ninfa’s, a restaurant managed by Rio Grande Valley native Ninfa Rodriguez Laurenzo. In fact, the dish was so appealing that chains like El Torito and Chi-Chi’s sent spies to steal the recipe.
4. The invention of the nacho can be credited to Ignacio Anaya, a chef in Piedras Negras, Mexico. Anaya initially made the snack for military housewives who went shopping on the holidays. The concept, however, gained popularity in the late 1970s, when Frank Liberto, a concessionaire in San Antonio, decided to sell nachos at Arlington Stadium.
5. Disneyland played a role in the invention of Doritos. In the early 1960s, Mexican workers at the theme park’s restaurant fried leftover tortillas and added flavoring to help create the now-popular brand.
6. America’s first Mexican-food celebrity was not Mexican. A man by the name of Buffalo Bill Cody earned the unique recognition after he started a Mexican restaurant outside of Madison Square Garden in 1886.
7. The first official American fans of Mexican food were members of the military. In 1879, the War Department agreed to allow San Antonio Canners to feed its soldiers Chili con carne.
8. One of the first taco trucks is thought to have started in New York when in 1966 two New York housewives operated an early version of the taco truck. Although the truck did not have a full kitchen, it was available for catering.
9. The earliest margaritas were made in a rigged soft-serve ice-cream machine. In 1971, Mariano Martinez used the machine to blend a prefabricated mix stored in a Spackle bucket and create the beverage.
10. Some accredit the popularity of Mexican cuisine to the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. During the fair, tamaleros from San Francisco would roam the area and promote their food.