Friday, October 5, 2012

Country Highlights: Mexico

By: Nadia Rendon

Drug wars, killings, tacos, and ponchos; contrary to popular belief, that is not what Mexico is all about. Through news and other types of media, Mexico's image has been heavily distorted. However I can assure you that there is more than meets the eye.

Mexico is composed of 31 states, and one federal district. The capital is Mexico City, which is in the center of the country. It shares a border with the United States on the north and Guatemala on the south. It also has coasts on the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico.


(picture from mexpride.com)
Mexico is a country full of diversity, both culturally and geographically. Because Mexico spreads throughout a fairly large part of the North American continent, it has a diverse flora and fauna ranging from deserts, to beaches, to rain forests, to mountainous land. This allows Mexico's tourism to flourish since there's something for everyones' taste. One popular destination is Cancun, which is located in the Riviera Maya, previously home of the Aztecs. Here you can explore the jungle, visit ancient Mayan temples, or just chill at the beach on a hammock with a Piña Colada.

Of course this diversity isn’t limited to Mexico’s geography. Because Mexico is composed of many states, there is a huge amount of cultural diversity since each state has its own special sub-culture. Native American tribes still exist, although they are mainly isolated from the big cities.
The artwork of these pre-Hispanic groups are really popular, especially among tourists, since they are really colorful and symbolic. This is the artwork of the Huichol tribe, which is made of strategically placing tiny colorful “shakira beads” with a special sort of wax. Every pattern or animal in their artwork represents something of their beliefs.
Food is a big part of our culture. Depending on the region of Mexico you go to is the food you are most likely to encounter. One of the examples of this is mole which is a chocolate and chili based sauce that is often put on top of chicken. Different varieties of mole exist, depending on what part of Mexico you are in. One of my personal favorites is Mole Oaxaqueño, which comes from the state of Oaxaca. Because this dish is difficult to make, it is most likely to be found in restaurants.
If you’re looking for a quick meal or snack without sacrificing the flavor, tacos al pastor and sopes are definitely excellent options. Small little taco stands can be found in almost any corner where anxious waiters will be glad to take your order. Tacos al pastor, one of the most common type of tacos, are served similar to shawarma, except with a touch of Mexican chiles, cilantro, lemon, and a slice of pineapple.
However if you’re not in Mexico, but you still want to try its cuisine, Chilaquiles are definitely the way to go. Chilaquiles is a sort of casserole made with fried tortilla, chicken, cheese, and sauce. They are simple and quick to make, and  full of flavor.

Chilaquiles Recipe:

Ingredients: 

· Corn Tortillas/ Corn Tortilla Chips  
· Salsa  
· Chicken
· Sour cream
· Cheese

Steps:  
1. Cut the corn tortillas into pieces. (This step can be omitted if tortilla chips are being used)

2. Preheat a pan on medium heat and then put some oil in it.

3. Once the pan is heated put the tortilla chips/pieces on the pan to fry and soften.

4. Add chicken.

5. Add the salsa.

6. Mix the food around in the pan until evenly mixed.

7. Let it cook until the tortilla is soft but not too soggy.

8. Turn the heat off and let it cool off for about a minute.

9. While its cooling down, spread cheese on top and let it melt.

10. Serve on plate and put sour cream on top.