Food and Beverages
Food and beverages in Mexico
The Origin of the Cuisine in Mexico
Mexican cuisine has its origins in the indigenous peoples of Mexico’s pre-Columbian history. In the course of the conquest of the American continent in the 15th century, the predominant eating traditions of the Aztecs, Zapotecs and Mayas were mixed with those of Spain and France. Arab and Caribbean influences were also added, resulting in the so-called fusion cuisine. Due to the enormous size of the country, different food cultures developed with a recognizable north-south divide. While Spanish cuisine dominates in the north, indigenous eating habits have been preserved to a great extent in the south.
Typical staple foods in Mexico are corn, beans, chilies and tropical fruits. Cacao, vanilla, peanuts, avocado, pineapple, papaya and tomatoes, which are well known in our country today, come from here. It was the Spaniards who brought pork, beef, fat, milk, rice and sugar to the continent in the course of colonization. Even limes and coriander herb came from them. Mangoes were brought to Mexico from India and bananas from Southeast Asia and developed magnificently here. Tex-Mex cuisine, which is often associated with Mexico, did not originate here; it came from the United States.
Typical Mexican Beverages and Drinks
Some of the particularly delicious dishes often found on menus in Isla Holbox are compiled here. If you would like to learn how to prepare them yourself, there are even opportunities for cooking classes on Holbox.
Dishes from Mexico
A tortilla is a Mexican flatbread that is common throughout the country and is made from corn or wheat. To make corn tortillas, a special corn flour (Masa Harina) is made into a dough and then pressed with a press into palm-sized patties. These are baked briefly on a hot plate and served still warm as a side dish. Corn tortillas come in different colors. Depending on the type of corn, they are made into white, yellow or purple tortillas.
They are used for many dishes, topping them with meat or vegetables, folding them in and then eating them that way. They are also used for other dishes, such as enchiladas, or made into nachos, tacos or tostadas. Wheat tortillas are more common in the north, but are also used here on Holbox for fajitas or burritos. By the way, Spain also has tortillas, but they are more like an omelet with potatoes with egg and onion, and are hard to find in Mexico.
A taco is a tortilla with a topping and is available in many different variations. Tacos are often served with meat, fish or vegetables and with different salsas and sauces. They are eaten folded or rolled with the hands. Actually, it is a Mexican fast-food dish, but you can also find restaurants that conjure up a true gourmet delight out of it.
Similar to the tacos are the so-called tostadas. The main difference is in the tortillas, which are not soft, but crispy baked out. They are topped in many different ways with meat, beans, vegetables, lettuce and cheese.
Ceviche is a very original fish dish that is preferably eaten at lunch, since it requires freshly caught fish or shrimp. It consists of chopped raw fish of different varieties marinated in a mixture of lime juice, salt and chilies. A few spices and herbs are also added. The citric acid contained in the lime juice allows the fish to cook even without heat, which is why a ceviche tastes almost like it is cooked.
Chilaquiles are deep-fried, broken tortilla chips over which is poured either a red sauce (rojo), based on tomatoes, or a green sauce (verde), based on tomatillos (a type of green tomato). The whole is mixed with pieces of chicken, vegetables or chilies, and finally grated cheese is sprinkled on top.
Cochinita Pibil (Puerco Pibil)
This traditional dish comes from the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico. Cochinita Pibil consists of slow-roasted pork marinated with orange and lime juice and Achiote paste (made from Annatto Seeds), which gives it its characteristic orange color. To roast, the meat is wrapped in banana leaves and cooked for several hours until it is quite tender. Cochinita Pibil is often served with corn tortillas, onions, cheese, coriander and chilies.
An empanada is a filled, deep-fried or baked dumpling and, like tamales, is often offered at the small stands on the street. The filling usually consists of meat or vegetables, but can also contain fruits such as pineapple or bananas in the sweet version.
Enchiladas are rolled tortillas with a filling of vegetables, chili or meat, topped with a sauce. The sauces vary depending on the variety of enchiladas, for example, there are green ones with chilies (verde) or ones with mole, a brown, creamy sauce made with cocoa and chilies.
A fajita is a dish that combines meat cut into strips, green chilies or vegetables with tortillas. The larger wheat tortillas are usually used for this purpose. They are served with different salsas or Pico de Gallo, which is a delicious sauce made of chopped onions, chili peppers and tomatoes, flavored with lime juice and coriander herb.
Guacamole with Tortilla Chips
Guacamole is an avocado dip made with ripe, mashed avocados and mixed with lime juice, coriander herb and salt. Depending on the recipe, chopped onion, garlic, chilies and tomato pieces are also mixed in. It is usually served with triangular tortilla chips, which are made from deep-fried corn tortillas. Guacamole is served as an appetizer or main course, but it is also popular in small quantities as a side dish with meat dishes.
As a Mexican breakfast you can get huevos (=eggs) in different variations in almost every restaurant or hotel. On Holbox you will often find huevos mexicanos, scrambled eggs with tomatoes, chilies and onion or huevos rancheros, fried eggs with vegetables on corn tortillas.
Another dish made with tortillas is quesadillas. Here, the patties are filled with cheese, and depending on the variation, additionally with mushrooms or chicken, folded together and then baked or deep-fried.
A tamale is a very original dish. It consists of a dough made of corn filled with meat, cheese or vegetables and steamed wrapped in a banana leaf. Tamales are often found as street food at street vendors rather than in restaurants.
Beverages from Mexico
When you think of Mexico, tequila immediately comes to mind as the country’s most famous drink. In fact, tequila is the Mexican national drink and is available here in many different varieties and quality levels. While ordinary tequila is often used for cocktails or drunk neat as a shot, the qualities “Reposado” and “Añejo”, which are matured in oak barrels, are more suitable for slow consumption. The brands Don Julio, 1800 Jose Cuervo and Herradura are particularly recommended for connoisseurs.
Similar to tequila, mezcal is also a spirit that originated in Mexico. While tequila is made exclusively from blue agave, mezcal uses a variety of agave varieties. In this sense, tequila is actually a subspecies of mezcal. Some varieties contain the famous worm, which is actually a butterfly caterpillar and is only in it for marketing reasons, as it serves no other purpose. Mezcal tastes a bit rougher, earthier or smokier and is just as likely to be drunk neat or mixed into cocktails.
Mexico is particularly rich in the variety of beer, which is called cerveza here. Mexicans are very fond of beer and often drink a lot of it. Classic beer brands are Corona, Sol, Modelo, XX (Dos Equis), Victoria, Tecate or Superior. A bit more special is the Indio or the delicious Pescadores from Yucatán, which you should definitely try. Holbox Island even has its own beer, La Holboxeña Coconut Porter, which is available in some restaurants. However, its taste is quite extraordinary.
Among the non-alcoholic drinks popular on Holbox are the so-called Horchata, a sweet drink made from rice, or Agua de Jamaica, a tea made from hibiscus flowers, which is very digestible and refreshing.