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My Gastronomical Travels- Traditional Mexican Food

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Rose Mary, an Air Force veteran, was stationed overseas, which enabled her to travel in Europe and beyond.

What kind of Mexican food do Mexicans eat? I recently posed this question to my dear friend Josie. Most of us know the general populace of China does not eat the same food that we gorge on at a Chinese buffet. I figured the same may hold true for Mexican food. Do Mexicans prepare tacos and burritos like Taco Bell does?

Then of course there’s regional variation. Olive Garden gives us a hint about the regional variation of Italian food with their Tour of Italy entrée. The Turkish food at the San Antonio Turquoise Grill restaurant is “Istanbul food”, and different from the Adana, Izmir, and Ankara Turkish food that I know. I recently ate Indian food that my waitress informed me was “South Indian” food, and very different from the North and coastal regions. So it’s probably safe to say that Mexican food varies regionally too.

Mexican Food Feast

Mexican Food Feast

My friend Josie was raised in Delicias, in the Chihuahua province of Mexico, about 6 hours into the interior from El Paso. Most of her siblings still live there, with a couple sisters living in Juarez, just over the border from El Paso. She and I went “home” for New Years about 8 years ago. We took a gastronomical tour of Delicias and Juarez. Every day we went to another sister’s or another aunt’s for traditional Mexican food. (I’m a big eater, but I couldn’t keep up! I’m still trying to remember where those pictures are. Given my military travels I have amassed a formidable collection of pictures, both in and out of albums. Stay tuned. I hope to post some of my personal photos later.)

Anyway, Josie’s perspective on Mexican food is based on what I guess would be north western Mexico. I’ll share with you what I learned from Josie about traditional Mexican tacos, gorditas, burritos, and chile rellenos, based on her experience. I had fantastic gorditas and chile rellenos in Mexico on our trip. I asked her about fajitas, and she said she never had them or heard of them until she moved to San Antonio!


Homemade Taco Shells

Homemade Taco Shells



Josie tells me that tacos “are a lot of work” when they make them at her house.  They make the taco shell with corn tortillas.  They heat the shell in a skillet or directly on the stove burner.  Then they use a fork to make sure the opening remains. 

The remaining preparation is fairly similar and familiar.  Fry ground beef with onion, garlic, “a tiny bit of cumin”, and “sometimes a little bit of tomato”. 

Put the ground meat into the shell first, then cheese, lettuce, and tomato.  Use avocado, salsa, or sour cream as preferred. 

Picadillo Tortillas

Cochinita Pibil


Gorditas are like mini pitas stuffed with meats or beans. The most common filling for gorditas is picadillo. Josie’s family makes picadillo with ground beef and tiny diced potatoes. Prepare onion, garlic, tomatoes, and Knorr chicken powder in a blender. Pour the tomato mixture over the meat and potatoes for cooking.

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When I was in Delicias, we had gorditas with lean roasted pork, pulled apart with forks. Josie informed me that was cochinita pibil, which can be eaten as a meat entrée on a plate, or as a very special filling for gorditas.

This is the recipe of one of Josie’s sisters:

Cochinita Pibil


½ block Achiote

1 can grapefruit juice, about 12 ounces

10 cloves of garlic

3 red (mirasol Colorado) peppers

Break off a small piece of a stick of cinnamon (rajita canela), about 1 1/2” long, ¼” wide

Cumin (cuminos)

Small amount of vinegar


Put all ingredients in a blender. You can strain if desired before pouring over a 2 kg (4 ½ lb) pork rump roast, like top or bottom round.



Burritos are made with flour tortillas.  So that’s the same as Taco Bell, right?  Beans and cheese is a common filling for burritos.  Again, Taco Bell.  Past this, let’s see if we detect much Taco Bell. 

Josie makes burritos by browning ground beef and adding onions, garlic, tomato, cumin, salt and pepper.  She puts a smear of refried beans on the flour tortilla, then adds meat, lettuce and tomato, and sour cream. 

Josie informed me that burritos with carne guisada is “the Texas way”.  This is chunks of lean beef like stew beef, prepared with peppers, onions, tomatoes, and spices. 

A favorite of Josie’s is chili Colorado, which she says can be prepared with beef or pork, in a tomato sauce with spices such as cumin and chili powder.  Other sources say that Colorado is always a beef dish, and the pork counterpart is chili adovado


Making Tortillas

Chile Rellenos

On our way back to Texas on our New Years trip, we stayed overnight in Juarez with another sister and had homemade chile rellenos with homemade tortillas.

Tortillas are made with self rising flour, water, and solid shortening. Mix into a dough and kneed. Roll out tortillas with a rolling pin or dowel. Cook on a griddle, a couple minutes per side, with a weight on top of tortillas to keep them flat.

Chile rellenos are made with poblano peppers. Roast peppers directly on the stove burner. Peel the skin off the roasted peppers. Cut a slit and put cheese inside. Josie leaves the seeds in the peppers. Dip peppers in egg batter and breading, then fry. Wrap peppers in a homemade tortilla, or serve on a plate with beans and rice. Chile rellenos can also be stuffed with picadillo.


rmcrayne (author) from San Antonio Texas on June 27, 2011:

Thanks for visiting and commenting Toronto, mrkterhune, and carolp.

Carolina from Switzerland on June 26, 2011:

I love Mexican foods. Tacos or Tortillas are part of my Menu plan. Every two weeks, i am cooking this Recipe for dinner. My family like these too.

mrkterhune on May 13, 2011:

WOw, Yummy food, Thanks for sharing.

rmcrayne (author) from San Antonio Texas on July 02, 2010:

Thanks Flightkeeper. I feel the same way. I've only eaten in Juarez, Delicias, and Nuevo Laredo. And of course great Tex Mex in San Antonio and the Hill Country.

rmcrayne (author) from San Antonio Texas on July 02, 2010:

Loren I feel badly that I seemed to have pressured you into spending so much time commenting on my hubs. I do realize the world does not revolve around me. I was just especially curious as to your impression on my Turkish hubs. Thanks for your comment. Enjoy your travels with family!

As far as HubMob, I often submit late entries myself, so I'm monitoring the RSS. (I did several Toys hubs 4 weeks after the HubMob!) You can email me anytime to let me know you have published something that you'd like to have in the roundup.

Flightkeeper from The East Coast on July 01, 2010:

RM, Mexico is so huge and each region has it's own specialties and with great complex flavors. I've been there three or four times and I still feel I haven't gotten through even one-third of their cuisine. thanks for the hub.

Loren's Gem from Istanbul, Turkey on July 01, 2010:

My dear Rosemary, I've been reading lots of hubs from everyone (and of course how will I miss your wonderful Turkish gastronomical travels?). As you see, I am new to HP. Sadly though, I can't find enough time to comment all the hubs I read - just as I could hardly find time to write. After seeing you won the daily drawing though, I wanted to congratulate you by leaving a comment.

Been really so busy last June preparing travel itinerary and reservations for my sister and her family's visit here in Turkey next week so if you've noticed, I could hardly write foodhubs at the end of June. And with my toddler around, luckily I was able to finish one - Asure hub for world cuisine, though I doubt if I was even able to make it to the roundup as I submitted it at the last minute. (lol) But I'm so glad I was able to write a few this month despite of my limited time. I'm just hub-hopping lately, reading others hubs, following writers, leaving comments and learning more - so check out your other hubs as I left my comments there. Be fully back into writing perhaps at the end of August - more about travel and food perhaps, but I'll go on checking HP from time to time during our holiday trips. Gorusmek uzere! :-)

rmcrayne (author) from San Antonio Texas on June 30, 2010:

pdh, Thanks!

Just the juice from the Cochinita pibil soaked into the Gordita bread was out of this world.

rmcrayne (author) from San Antonio Texas on June 30, 2010:

Thanks Money for your ongoing support. I think you visited the German and Turkish food hubs.

It would be great to win, but I'm just pleased to be able to say I was a Top Ten pick out of 142 articles.

rmcrayne (author) from San Antonio Texas on June 30, 2010:

Thanks Peggy. That's Sebastian. He's a rescue, and skiddish around most people except the immediate household and Josie. You should see how he squeeks for her attention!

rmcrayne (author) from San Antonio Texas on June 30, 2010:

Thanks for visiting Loren. I was actually worried that you had not commented on my Turkish food hubs. I thought you may have found them lacking. Glad you said something.

rmcrayne (author) from San Antonio Texas on June 30, 2010:

Thanks Holle, and congratulations on your nomination also- very well deserved.

Great question! I never ate any similar food in Spain, but was only there 3 weeks, and ate restaurant food, not with Spanish families.

I agree with Loren above, there are some similarities with Turkish food. Pide is used similar to tortillas. Also, village Turks make a really thin bread outside on a dome over fire. They fold it and use it over a period of weeks, rehydrating it with a sprinkle of water. They tear off pieces and use it like scoops for eating other dishes. Turks make homemade tomato or red pepper salsa for cooking.

I always thought a lot of Turkish kilims were very similar in design and color to rugs from Arizona and New Mexico. Hmmm...

prettydarkhorse from US on June 30, 2010:

Good luck Rosemary, Congrats for the nomination, and for the daily win again, Send me a Cochinita pibil now hehe, Maita

Money Glitch from Texas on June 30, 2010:

Hey RM, I guess I'm getting confused, but I thought that I commented on this one when it won the daily contest. Anyway, I was sticking my head back in to wish you congrats on the nomination and good luck in winning. :)

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on June 30, 2010:

Congratulations on your nomination. Love the photo of you and your dog and the recipes sound delicious.

Loren's Gem from Istanbul, Turkey on June 30, 2010:

Another of your great hubs RM! I enjoyed reading all your gastronomical travels - Turkish, Mexican and all!

And about something Mexican, I will always love tacos and especially Mexican burritos (we have a pide version of that here in Turkey filled with döner, you know) and everything that's in it. It's just a one-pack meal to me. Once you'll have it, you won't ask for anything more as its enough to fill you up. Rating this up and congrats on the nomination! :-)

Holle Abee from Georgia on June 30, 2010:

Interesting hub! We have Mexican pals and love authentic Mexican foods. Did these evolve from the native tribes or from the Spaniards? Or both?

Kudos on the nom!

rmcrayne (author) from San Antonio Texas on June 29, 2010:

Thanks for the visit and your comment oceans!

Paula from The Midwest, USA on June 29, 2010:

Hi Rmcrayne, I love Mexican food of all types, and enjoyed learning from your hub!

rmcrayne (author) from San Antonio Texas on June 28, 2010:

Thanks for the visit and your heartwarming comment Perl!

Esther Shamsunder from Bangalore,India on June 27, 2010:

Congrats,Rose Mary! I love your hubs! I see you are a dog lover like myself!Lovely pics! Mouthwatering food! Thanks for sharing!

rmcrayne (author) from San Antonio Texas on June 27, 2010:

Thanks for the visit Pamela, ethel and stephhicks.

I hope you're right ethel. I'm gonna hold you to it!

Stephanie Marshall from Bend, Oregon on June 27, 2010:

Nice work - Mexican food is some of my favorite, and there is nothing like enjoying authentic cuisine

Ethel Smith from Kingston-Upon-Hull on June 27, 2010:

Love the photo with your pooch.

Mexican food is very popular in the UK currently. This hub will be popular

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on June 26, 2010:

Congratulations! Good hub on Mexican food.

rmcrayne (author) from San Antonio Texas on June 25, 2010:

I usually like the food most everywhere I go LR, but I know what you mean. I miss a few Turkish dishes that you just don't find in restaurants.

rmcrayne (author) from San Antonio Texas on June 25, 2010:

Thanks Phoenix. Maybe I'll catch up to you!

Thanks melbel!

Melanie Palen from Midwest, USA on June 25, 2010:

Congratulations on the win!

Lily Rose from A Coast on June 25, 2010:

Having recently moved from San Diego to South Florida, my whole family is really missing "real" Mexican food; it's just not the same here!

PhoenixV from USA on June 25, 2010:


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