Maybe you are wondering just how it achieves that aromatic, spicy combination of authentic flavors. It could be that you have one Mexican food restaurant in particular that provides the flavor you crave or maybe you hop from one restaurant to another for the meals that you crave. Whichever route you choose, there are some ingredient necessities that are common to all truly authentic Mexican menus.
Authenticity starts with the chili pepper, or chile in Spanish. This fruit is sweet and mild in temperature, like the poblano, or hot and fiery like the jalapeno. Most of the dishes served in Mexican food restaurants will have one or more of these South American native chili peppers.
Some other popular fruits and vegetables to be found on the menu in Mexican food restaurants are commonly found in gardens all over the United States. Tomatoes, tomatillos and jicama appear more and more in family gardens as the love of Mexican cuisine increases. Avocados, nopales, the mango, and plantains are other fresh ingredients to look for.
Beans and rice are certain to be on the menu, incorporated as part of the main dish or served up as a balancing side dish. Eggs are another ingredient that can be found as an integral part of popular dishes. A variety of flavorful cheese is also typical. And no meal will be complete without the tortillas, whether corn or flour. One of the greatest draws in many popular Mexican food restaurants is the sight of tortillas being made by hand. Although traditional homes use a small press for the family tortillas, many restaurants offer bigger tortillas and a more visually intriguing experience that offers up excitement in the smell and sound of the process as well as in the resulting taste.
The seasonings found most often in the dishes you love are cumin, oregano, garlic and onion, and the cooling combination of cilantro and lime juice. Other seasonings and spices commonly present include cinnamon and coriander.
Finding the Mexican food restaurants that serve up the most authentic recipes can be a trial and error experience that tingles your taste buds and satisfies your other senses. Look for a clean and comfortable setting with an atmosphere that pleases you. Expect to be served fresh fruits and vegetables instead of canned, and look for chips and tortillas which are handmade at the restaurant. If you are truly lucky, you will be able to overhear conversations held in Spanish coming from both the kitchen and the dining room.