Mexican Food

The increasing number of immigrant population in the US, is topped by the Mexican presence with more than 8.5 Million legal immigrants (Mexico’s National Council of Populations, Sept. 2001). The United States is therefore slowly inheriting traditions brought about by the oldest and newest Mexican inhabitants. One cannot even deny that anything to do with the Mexican culture has gained popularity in TV shows and advertisements endorsing Mexican products to radio programs playing guitars and crooning Spanish love songs. Mexican immigrants and their descendants are also becoming socially and culturally influential as their way of life seeps into the contemporary American politics, food and daily living that will soon redefine the nation’s identity.
The demand for Mexican foods has increased and slowly becoming part of the mainstream culture and threatening to displace the long-time Italian and Chinese ethnic favorite foods. The unwillingness of Mexican immigrants to assimilate the American culture with strict preference over their own traditions (Smith, 1997: 112) is evident in their traditional choice of food in a new host country. As members of the leading minority group, Mexicans are coming out from obscurity and are collectively insisting a tangible conception of their democratic culture through cuisine (Rivera, 2006:4). This is creatively presented in their attachment to their native Hipic Mexican foods that has created a common link between the Americans and Mexicans through the culinary arts.
Mexican Traditional Food

Mexican foods are becoming so popular and quite evident with the sales boost of salsa product outstripping ketchup sales in the United States. Tortillas are also becoming commonly needed in American palates with popular sandwich wraps replacing traditional breads (US, Levine; 2004: 32). American people are truly catching on the flavor of Mexican food that is intense and has varied spices (Wood, 2004:215). The original Mexican foods are rich in terms of proteins, vitamins, and minerals though it is characterized by some as spicy.
Corn particularly presented in corn tortillas, plays a fundamental role in the Mexican cuisine along with beans as another major staple ingredient (Wood; 215). Such food staples are often boiled and fried. Beans are also high in fiber with an anti-oxidant benefit which is excellent against disposing unwanted cholesterol and for cancer prevention. Along with avocados used in salads, soups and other main dishes, hot chili peppers are mixed with most Mexican dishes which are mostly served fried to provide the characteristic spice for flavor mostly composed of jalapeno, poblano, habanero, cascabel and pasilla as the most common spicy ingredients.
Protein-rich Mexican Diet
In the Mexican food, cilantro or Chinese parsley is a very popular herb used in salsa and sauces. It’s composition of phytonutrients, flavonoids and acid compounds are known to help control blood sugar, lower cholesterol levels and fight infection with its antimicrobial properties. Along with fresh tomatoes in the Mexican salsas, they’re used in most sauces and soups. Its lycopene-rich composition is a potent antioxidant and a rich source of vitamin C, A and K.
The papaya fruit is also a popular in the Mexican diet especially during breakfast which could be eaten as is or mixed with salsa. Papaya has been known to protect against heart disease, colon cancer and supportive to the immune system. It is also beneficial for digestion with its papain enzyme component particularly a good aid for digestion. When properly prepared, the benefits are well accepted in the human body with the best long-term effects.
Food Preparation
In Mexico, Mexican food preparation is fraught with traditional practices. In the preparation of salsa and tortillas and tamales especially during holidays, fire from the preparation is put out with either milk or butter and not water as a superstition of consistency in the food preparation is believed. As an ethnic group, Mexicans in the US do survive the ritual practices of religious and syncretic content, where the main offerings are food and beverages, such as mole during religious holidays like All Souls’ Day tamales or Saint Cross’ Day barbacoa (West, 1988:208) is upheld. These foods though take a lengthy preparation process yet in  Mexico’s different regions particularly in the rural areas during San Isidro Labrador’s feast day (West: 208),food is prepared as in a healthy manner and not merely fried with fat-rich oils.
Mexican Cuisine adaptation in the US
Mexican food demands created a major influence on American meals as shown by studies that Americans are currently eating Mexican foods four times more compared to 20 years ago (Wood: 216). Food chains are emulating the Mexican trend according to the Institute of Food Technologists (Dept of State, 2004) who claimed that Mexican food has almost doubled in popularity among people who cook regularly, from 44 percent in 1985 to 86 percent in 2003.
According to them the weak link between the super-sized and super-fattened food sold as Hipic or Mexican in the United States is the main problem as the Americanized version is loaded with calories. Further it is believed that as Hipic people blend in with American culture, Hipic would soon take in the food preparation and eating habits of the American people as they too are transformed into busybodies. While there is a mixture of both cultures in food preparation, the unhealthy element is retained as busy American-Mexicans hasten to prepare food faster fried in rich oils.
Food and health relationships
The traditional Mexican diet is advantageous but the American-Mexican is not! Staple as the main food composed of beans, corn and squash has a higher content of complex carbohydrates which is emphasized by the consumption of other fruits and vegetables. However when liberal amounts of fat are added through stewing or frying instead of baking or broiling, the purpose of a healthy diet is defeated. Fried foods which is a growing trend to a faster preparation needs fat-rich products which leads to obesity and contributes to diabetes, hypertension and a combination of these illnesses (Lisabeth and Kaplan: 2006).
Cutting down on fat, sodium and sugar in the diet would ultimately reverse the effects. It would be beneficial if the carbohydrate intake could be increased by eating servings of bread, pasta, fruits and vegetables. Spanish rice can be served with potatoes and beans as well. Corn tortillas should also be made using whole wheat flour and made with unsaturated fats such as canola oil, soybean or corn instead of lard. Avoidance of too much soft drink would also spell health as the American-Mexican drinks more water. Corn chips are also health-wise when baked instead of fried and avoidance of salty foods would mean a modified healthful Mexican meal with flavored garlic, cumin, regain, cilantro and other spices.
Works Cited
Smith Robert. (1997). The City and the World: New York’s Global Future in Margaret E. Crahan, Alberto Vourvoulias-Bush (eds.). Council on Foreign Relations.
Lisabeth, Lynda D. and Kaplan, Norman D. (2006). Mexican-Americans at Higher Risk for Second Stroke. Annals of Neurology, Sept.
Rivera, John Michael. (2006). The Emergence of Mexican America: Recovering Stories of Mexican Peoplehood in U.S. Culture. NYU Press.
United States. Department of State Reports.  (2004). Americans at the Table Reflections on Food and Culture. Diane Publishing.
West, John. (1988). Mexican-American Folklore. Arkansas: August House.
Wood, Andrew Grant. (2004). On the Border: Society and Culture Between the United States and Mexico. Rowman & Littlefield.

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