There are several reasons why Mexican food became mainstream especially in the U.S. where tacos, tortillas, and enchiladas are now staple fares. Just like Chinese and Italian food, one can always find a food outlet or restaurant serving traditional Mexican or new Mexican-inspired dishes.
As most Americans have become more health conscious and have developed a preference for certain food tribes, this ethnic cuisine is versatile enough to receive modifications. Culinary experts came up with cooking variations that can make certain types of Mexican dishes appropriate for any dietary preference: be it low-sodium, gluten-free, dairy-free, as well as vegan or vegetarian.
Another trait found likeable in most Mexican dishes is that they can come as quick-fix meals that can be partaken any time of the day; as breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even as afternoon or midnight snacks. American consumers love them as alternatives to ordering Italian pizzas, since even a simple taco or enchilada dish is also a complete meal on its own.
In light of its origin as meals brought to work by early Mexican miners, tacos inherently offer complete nutrition. Traditional tacos include beans and/or meat as sources of protein, while fresh vegetables, fruit, grain and spices provide other nutrients.
The next best thing about Mexican food is that they are never boring. They are served with a topping of a savory mole sauce or salsa. Salsa can be verde (green) or roja (red) depending on the kind of tomatoes mixed with the onions, chillies and cilantro.
Then there’s the basic mole made mostly of onions, chiles other natural flavorings. Add avocado and tomatoes to the mixture to make it a guacamole. If one is feeling more adventurous, try a Mexican dish made flavorful by the Mole Negro, to which the cocoa ingredient makes the difference. Mole Amarillo offers more sophistication, especially when almond and raisin are added to a mole mixture of yellow chilli pepper.
Mexican Food is Deeply Embedded in American Culture
According to a Pew Research report, there are about 57 million Latinos in the U.S., two-thirds of which are hispanics of Mexican heritage. Just like any other immigrant, the first wave of Mexicans to settle in America introduced their traditional cuisine, which over the years found their way to different regions. Even then, Mexican cuisine attained popularity in ways that gave Mexican immigrants not only cultural pride, but also economic opportunities.
Not a few of the early Mexican-Americans and new waves of Mexican immigrants were instrumental in bringing Mexican food to the mainstream. Many of them gained economic stability by opening diners, restaurants and/or by publishing cookbooks, all offering authentic Mexican dishes.
One indication that Mexican food was heading mainstream was the arrival of commercially produced Mexican ingredients. As early as the 1950s, food manufacturers began keeping up with the increasing demand for Mexican food. They made cooking homemade Mexican dishes easier, since ready-to-cook tortilla flour, premade taco shells, frozen burritos and tortilla chips became available in grocery stores and supermarket outlets.
In the 1990s, bottled salsas and sauces became welcome additions; making well-loved Mexican dishes almost always present in many American dining tables through the years.