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Mexican Plurality: Comida

A lot of people have asked me general questions about Mexicans like, “What religion are they?” as if they were a homogeneous tribe or “What do they eat?” as though they were specimens under observation, or even seemingly simple things like, “They drive you crazy, don’t they?” Before responding I always wonder, “What do you mean by ‘they’?” So I always start out by saying, “In Xalapa…”

Yet now, I am now in Mérida, Yucatán- a world away from Xalapa, Veracruz. It seems to be the perfect moment to talk about the plurality of Mexican “cultura” (culture), “costumbres” (customs) and “comida” (food).

Let’s take the other day as an example. My “suegra” (mother-in-law) ordered “gorditas”. Now, in Xalapa a “gordita” is a corn tortilla made with a slight edge. It then has black refried beans, salsa and potatoes or any number of toppings added to it. We love “gorditas”.

In la Ciudad del Carmen, Yucatán, what the waiter brought my “suegra” was not the “gorditas” we know and love. It was rather bean and corn “masa” (dough) cooked as a patty and smothered in salsa. Delicious, but different. It’s the same story with “picadas”, “garnachas”, “tamales”, and a number of other foods.

Every place has its own way of preparing food. So what most Americans know to be Mexican food (Tex Mex) has even more variations than one can imagine. Mexican food is much more than tacos and tamales.