Now, I’m not the expert in Mexican cuisine. I admit to owning a container of “Fajita Seasoning” and enjoy a super simple bowl of pozole from the can. When I make enchiladas I use canned sauce. I sometimes get a hankering for Taco Bell’s Cheesy Gordita Crunch. That shouldn’t even count as Mexican food really. I don’t often make Mexican food myself at home. I’m as Americanized as it gets but there are a few things I spot in grocery stores that confuse me.
1. Taco Seasoning
What is Taco Seasoning even made of? Is there a specific recipe? I feel like this is something big food companies invented. My mom didn’t really make tacos, if she did they were bean or chicken. We didn’t really do ground beef tacos all that often, I feel like she made them more when she was with my ex-step-dad, if memory serves me right. She would however, make a delicious batch of carne asada seasoned with salt, pepper, lime, seasoned salt, sometimes a splash of beer. Then we’d have our corn tortillas on the side and use that to tear up the carne asada into bite sized pieces or we’d cut up the carne asada and place it into the tortilla as a taco. You don’t need to buy these packets of “taco seasoning” — unless there is something that goes into tacos that I’m unaware of?
While we’re on the topic of tacos…what’s up with these super yellow pre-made taco shells? If you must harden your tacos just take some regular corn tortillas and fry them in the pan. I doubt these pre-made, processed, bright yellow shells are any healthier than a home fried shell. I’m in no place to judge though, my mom did make us tostadas using the pre-made type. I get it, she was a tired working mom and didn’t want to stand in front of the stove frying up tortillas after being on her feet all day at work. But we didn’t always use the pre-made tostadas, it was a good mix of home fried and pre-made.
I only buy Mission Tortillas if I MUST. I do not like Mission all that much. I favor Diana’s when I can find them and second choice is Guerrero. Although I just found out Guerrero and Mission are made by the same company, Gruma! They are the largest processed corn flour (they call it Maseca) producer. Devastating, so I now need to avoid using Guerrero. If you want good tortillas do not buy Mission. Find something more locally produced from a tortillaeria like Diana’s. It will taste much better, I promise!
This is one I just do not understand at all. My mom certainly would turn to pre-made foods when she was tired, busy and in a pinch but NEVER bought fake Mexican rice. That is something she always took the time to make herself. I wonder if this really existed in the 80s or 90s or is it something as of late that has popped up as Mexican food becomes more normalized in American cuisine? Anyway, like all Mexican foods everyone has a slightly different way of making this rice. My mom calls it Spanish Rice. She uses onion, tomato sauce, and bouillon. Some people use a bit of garlic and diced up fresh tomato as well and some even throw in peas and carrots. I’ve seen the peas and carrots thing a lot in Mexican grocery stores and restaurants. I have subjected myself to trying one of these “Mexican Style” rice packets and I can honestly say it was GROSS. Do not buy these. Look up a recipe and make it at home for the best experience. 5. Canned Tamales
Why, why, WHY was this ever invented? Just don’t. Find a place that makes these fresh. What the heck is this. I’ve eaten them once. They were weird. You will never find me buying anything like this.
I must say though, Mexican food is becoming more and more prevalent in American culture. I take these pre-packaged, processed versions of Mexican foods as a sign that more people outside the culture are WANTING to eat more Mexican style food at home. That’s good! Americans should try more diverse foods, it’s a reflection of our country. We truly do have it all here in the United States. I can one day eat Thai food, the next day Italian, the next Ethiopian–it’s a trip around the world with food. I embrace that and I’m happy to see other people embracing diversity and being brave enough to try something outside their box.
*All photography found on Amazon.com