For the adventurous diner, this is a blessing! There are countless different restaurants on every street, offering a variety of dishes. Many cultures, unlike the general American culture, have strongly vegetarian-based diets, which overall makes for healthier options.
You’ve probably heard before that the American versions of a lot of cultural cuisine aren’t exactly authentic; take Chinese food, for example. Travelers to the country will tell you that what we often purchase as take-out isn’t the norm half-way across the world.
The same is true for Mexican food, the American-blended version of which is often referred to as “tex-mex.” Tex-mex refers to a blend of Mexican and southern American cooking, and while it’s delicious, it shouldn’t by any means be taken as standard Mexican fare.
Traditional Mexican food isn’t just about the ingredients; it’s also about how the dishes are made. Two main ingredients are corn and chili peppers, the latter providing us that well-loved spiciness. Menu items are often vegetable heavy.
You might be surprised to find out that despite the large and filling servings, traditional Mexican food, when you find it, is pretty cheap.
We’re not talking Taco Bell cheap (check out their prices over here at PriceListo), but for what you pay, you’re definitely getting a bang for your buck.
We’ve brought together a meal and beverage recipe combo that is easy to make at home, and inspired by traditional Mexican dishes.
Huevos Rancheros Power Bowl
If you haven’t heard about power bowls yet, they’re one of the newest trends hitting the food industry right now. They’re made to provide lots of protein and nutrients, so they’re a wonderful option for anyone trying to stay on the healthier side of homemade food while still getting a delicious meal.
Here’s our take on a Mexican tradition – huevos rancheros, or ranch eggs – served up power bowl style:
- 4 cups white rice
- ½ cup black beans
- 1 avocado
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- ¼ shredded or crumbled cheese (we suggest queso fresco, American, or cheddar)
- ¼ an onion, diced
- 1 pepper, diced
- 4 eggs
- 1tbs olive oil
- Fresh cilantro, chopped
- ½ tsp cumin, ½ teaspoon powdered garlic
- Fresh lime juice
Start by preparing the rice, as it takes the longest. (For a bit of flavor in your rice, add some oil to a pan and fry it until it releases a nutty scent and is lightly browned in some areas.)
In a small bowl, mix together the tomatoes, lime juice, and spices – minus the cilantro.
Heat oil in a pan and fry the four eggs, covering them with a lid to make flipping them easier. It’s up to you how you like them – runny or fully cooked.
In another pan, sauté the onion until softened. Throw in the peppers, cook for a minute, and then add the tomato mixture. Take off of the heat until the rice is finished.
When the rice is ready, put it in a bowl and top with the fried eggs. Add the tomato, pepper, and onion mix, and the fresh avocado and cilantro on top.
*Hint: If you like a bit of crunch, throw in some tortilla chips!
Horchata is a grain-based drink that varies from culture to culture, but when it comes to Mexican horchata, the beverage is often made from rice.
Recently gaining popularity in the United States, horchata has become sporadically available in a few grocery stores.
The recipe below is incredibly simple in ingredients, but keep in mind that it does need time to steep, usually overnight – so make this one ahead of time if you’re craving something sweet and satisfying!
- 1 cup rice
- ¼ raw almonds
- 2 cinnamon sticks/2tbs cinnamon
- 2 cups milk of your choice
- 4 cups water
- 1 tsp vanilla
- ½ cup sugar
To get this beverage started, blend or process the rice, almonds, cinnamon, and about a cup of water in a blender or food processor until they form a thick paste.
Slowly add the rest of the water and when all ingredients are well-mixed, transfer them to a jug. Cover the jug and let sit – not refrigerated – for 8-10 hours. Overnight is a great time for this step!
Strain the mixture and remove the waste. Mix in milk, vanilla, and sugar, and then refrigerate until chilled. Serve cold.
No matter your background, exploring the culinary world is an adventure in cultural traditions. The beautiful thing about so much mixing is that we’re all able to share and experience wonderful food and stories. And while hitting up a fast food joint might be affordable and quick, it isn’t always the healthiest or tastiest option.
If you’re truly a connoisseur of cultural dishes, start your journey by dabbling in mixed-culture dishes. These will tend to be less spicy, less intensive to make, and a great gateway into heavier flavors – but just as delicious!