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Chef adding finishing touches to Mexican food at a restaurant pass

Mexican Food Is Here to Stay: And We Couldn't Be Happier

Ask anyone north of the border and they'll tell you: it’s tough to remember a time before Taco Tuesdays and Tequila Fridays. 

It’s like landing in Oz and trying to remember life back in Kansas.

There’s no denying it. Salsa and guacamole have become household staples in the US. And our cuisines have blended so much that we’ve even seen the emergence of a new culinary genre: Tex-Mex. 

But, just how far gone is this culinary obsession? We investigate further (warning: content may result in burrito cravings).

Colorful table with pots of guacamole, rice, beans, radishes, limes, tamales and salsas

Mexican Cuisine: An Invitation to Happiness

 In successive waves of immigration over the course of a century, Mexico has been surprising North American palates with its unique flavor combinations for generations.

With such an influx of families, each bringing their own recipes, often passed down for generations, it’s no wonder that Mexican food ranks top 3 for most ethnic cuisine in the United States - year in, year out. And, in the last decade alone, there has been a growing demand for Mexican-inspired flavors, with sales of Mexican food products in the United States rising by a staggering 47% (Nielsen).

All this to underline a truth universally acknowledged: there’s no such thing as too many tacos.

Celebrity chef José Andrés, who holds multiple restaurants across the US including Mercado Little Spain and The Bazaar once remarked, "Mexican cuisine is an invitation to happiness." And who can argue? We’ve certainly never turned down an invitation to a warming plate of birría or a satisfying bowl of enchiladas.

It’s hard to pinpoint the irresistible appeal of Mexican food. It must lie somewhere in the crossroads between texture, depth of flavor, diversity, and simplicity of preparation.

Mexican spices such as chili peppers, cumin, and oregano have become staples in US kitchens, adding depth and complexity to a variety of household dishes. However, the influence of Mexican cuisine extends beyond the spice cupboard. Popular Mexican dishes like tacos, which have experienced a 20% increase in popularity in recent years according to Datassential, have become ubiquitous items on menus throughout the country.

Not to mention, the advent of Tex-Mex, which celebrates the fusion of Mexican and US tastes in dishes like the California burrito and chile con carne.

 A chef prepares a burrito

From Food Trucks to Fine Dining

The reach of Mexican cuisine’s influence in the US seems limitless.

Its creativity, regional diversity and spiraling popularity have given rise to a wide range of innovative culinary experiences. Mexican-inspired food trucks, for instance, have become a vibrant part of the US street food scene, offering creative interpretations of traditional Mexican dishes to a diverse audience. 

And it doesn’t stop there. Mexican and Mexican-inspired restaurants are making their mark on haute-cuisine, with extremely talented chefs pushing boundaries and captivating food enthusiasts from around the world.

Mexican cuisine has also become intertwined with US popular culture. Cinco de Mayo, a Mexican holiday commemorating the Battle of Puebla, has transformed into a celebration of Mexican culture in the United States. It is now an occasion for people to indulge in Mexican favorites like tacos and margaritas, solidifying the influence of Mexican cuisine in US social gatherings. 

Undoubtedly, as Mexican chef Enrique Olvera aptly states, "Mexican cuisine is a treasure of flavors and traditions." Its influence on US food culture is evident in the melting pot of flavors, the integration of culinary techniques, and its impact on culinary innovation and popular culture. 

The exciting part? This is just the beginning. And, hopefully, Mexico is leading the way for the introduction of dishes from countries even further south of the border, where the gastronomic limits know no bounds.

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