Article by Joanna Sarah-Freedman
It’s Cinco de Mayo, the annual celebration of when Mexico defeated the French Empire at the Battle of Puebla. Held on May 5th every year, and also hugely popular in the US today, many consider the holiday moment to appreciate Mexican American culture – and, of course, its food.
But in the UK, we’re sometimes guilty of thinking that Mexican food begins and ends with tacos.
Whilst there are some utterly banging tacos about (just take a look at our taco guide), there is also a whole array more traditional Mexican dishes to explore, too.
From Molé to Barbacoa, we decided to delve a little deeper into the patchwork of foods and flavours that stem from Mexico, and bring you a little more information on four of the ultimates.
Plus, we’ve also dug out the very best places you can try these dishes throughout the UK. Aren’t we nice?
Molé is one of Mexico’s most beloved dishes, and with good reason. It’s a word used to encompass many sauce recipes in Mexico, but the Molé Poblano is perhaps the most famous example. With its dark red colour and deep smoky flavour, it’s served alongside many foods in Mexico, but chicken is one of the most popular accompaniments.
Two key ingredients in this dish are chocolate and chilli, but in fact there are as many as 20, some of which take hours in their own right to prepare.
If you want to try Molé Poblano for yourself, Twisted recommends: Mestizo (London)
A traditional slow cooked recipe, hailing from the Oaxacan region of Mexico, this dish usually calls for a whole meat (traditionally lamb) to be smothered in spices and ancho and guajillo chiles before being wrapped in banana leaves and smoked underground for several hours.
The result is tender, pull-apart dish that can stand up against any barbecue in the world. Perfect for Cinco de Mayo if you ask us.
If you want to try Lamb Barbacoa for yourself, Twisted recommends: La Bodega Negra (London)
When it comes to street food snacking, carnitas are the king. It basically means “little meats”, which are often served slow roasted and pulled with any number of accompaniments. Carnitas are perhaps at their best when alongside tortillas and Mexican cheese – also known as queso fresco.
Together with avocado and coriander, this Mexican meat will certainly tantalise your tastebuds. Whilst this can be served on tacos, you can also chuck the meat in a burrito, a chimichanga, an enchilada, or simply alongside rice.
If you want to try Carnitas for yourself, Twisted recommends: El Guaca (Maldon, Clacton, Colchester, Newmarket)
Pozole is a rich, traditional Mexican soup or stew, made with pork or chicken meat and hominy (dried corn kernels), and often garnished with salad, like shredded lettuce, cabbage and radishes. Meanwhile, lime, chopped onions and chillies are also commonly added.
Whilst it’s eaten all year round in Mexico, Pozole is also a festive dish, making it perfect to whack out at Cinco de Mayo. It’s commonly served on the New Year, birthdays and Christmas, too.
If you want to try Carnitas for yourself, Twisted recommends: Viva La Mexicana (Bristol)
Of course, these dishes are just the tip of the iceberg. You can also try Horchata, Tamales and Chilaquiles – among so many more cultural delicacies.
With so many straightforward Tex Mex staples readily available on menus across the world, it’s easy to settle for what’s familiar. However, as these dishes prove there’s so much more to Mexican food than tacos (however great they are).
With so many different dishes to try, there’s no reason to not push the boat out this year and try some new and delicious party food.