Country of the Month: Mexico!
What comes to mind when you think of Mexico? Maybe your mind starts thinking about tacos and wondering how “traditional” fast food tacos really are. Perhaps your mind excavates the small amount of information you know about the Aztecs and their incredible monument, Chichén Itzá. Mexico is a bountiful country with incredible experiences. Each state is rich in its own unique culture and heritage. You simply will never have enough time to see and experience all of its hidden gems. As July’s Country of the Month, we share with you only fragments of Mexican culture, as detailing everything would take ages to read!
Mexico’s major tribe was the Aztecs. These powerful, and oftentimes, ruthless warriors established their dominance over smaller tribes by incorporating and combining their different fighting styles against them. It is commonly misunderstood that these people spoke Aztec, however, they actually spoke Nahuatl, still spoken today within small pockets. As the Aztec empire held onto power more firmly, their civilization had time to focus on culture, technology, and farming.
By the start of the 1500s the Aztec empire was flourishing and prospering, yet their golden age was short-lived as the arrival of Spanish Conquistador, Hernán Cortés, brought forth their demise. By 1521, after two years of brutal fighting, disease spreading, and extermination of a society – the Spanish took over Tenochtitlan, the Aztec capital. After the conquest of Cortés, the indigenous population experienced much brutality and exploitation from the Spanish crown causing them to fight for their independence and win in 1821. Over its history, Mexico has experienced much turmoil, exploitation, and a current war going on today hurting the population.
No two dishes are alike in Mexico and that is because of their varied terrain giving fruit to a wide variety of ingredients. Mexicans are resourceful and try to use as much of the animals or vegetables as they can to avoid waste. Key ingredients vary per state, and dish names such as Posole mean very different things depending on the region you are in.
Tamales are made out of corn dough filled with a meat and sauce filling. They are then wrapped in corn husks and cooked with vapor for hours. This dish is traditionally made over the holidays when the entire family can help carry out this difficult task!
Chilaquiles are fried tortillas cut up into triangles and served warm with salsa, cheese, sour cream, and onions. Many will top them off with a fried egg or steak and enjoy them for a nice and hearty breakfast!
This one might sound strange but if you go to Mexico it is a must-try. This is grilled corn on a stick and covered in mayonnaise, cotija cheese, chili powder, and lime. People wait in giant lines to get one as a snack!
This warm drink comparable to hot chocolate. Atole, however, is thicker, creamier, and served in different flavors such as vanilla, walnut, or strawberry.
Arroz con Leche
Arroz con Leche is a dessert meaning rice with milk. This pudding-like dish is made with rice, milk, sugar, cinnamon, and raisins. It’s best to enjoy warm!
Mexican Coat of Arms
The Mexican Coat of Arms has a very unique story based on an Aztec legend. The legend talks about a group of Aztec wanderers who were looking for a new place to settle after the fall of their capital. One of them had a dream with a voice telling him that they would settle where they found an eagle preying on a snake while on top of a cactus. After much walking they finally found the omen and established the city of Tenochtitlan, today called Mexico City.
Chichén Itzá is one of the New Seven Wonders of the World! This was the Mayan capital during the 9th and 10th centuries and is located in the Yucatán Peninsula. Chichén Itzá displays the great astronomical accomplishments of the Mayan civilization.
Mexican traditional dances are very unique and representative of each region. These dances are elaborate and boast colorful garments. There are so many dances, here are just three to show how diverse they can be!
This is the most popular and well-known dance. In this dance, men wear a traditional Mexican suit and sombrero while women wear colorful dresses and braids. This dance is very lively and fast paced!
This is a very special and unique dance that might scare you a bit! Five individuals will climb a 30 ft tall pole and all of a sudden four will drop and start twirling around!
This is the traditional dance of Morelos. People will wear giant masks, elaborate garments, and jump around!