Mexican cuisine consists of the cooking cuisines and traditions of the modern country of Mexico. Its earliest roots lie in Mesoamerican cuisine. Its ingredients and methods begin with the first agricultural communities such as the Maya who domesticated maize, created the standard process of maize nixtamalization, and established their foodways (Maya cuisine). Successive waves of other Mesoamerican groups brought with them their own cooking methods. These included: the Olmec, Teotihuacanos, Toltec, Huastec, Zapotec, Mixtec, Otomi, Purépecha, Totonac, Mazatec, Mazahua, and Nahua. With the Mexica formation of the multi-ethnic Triple Alliance (Aztec Empire), culinary foodways became infused (Aztec cuisine).
Today's food staples are native to the land and include: corn (maize), beans, squash, amaranth, chia, avocados, tomatoes, tomatillos, cacao, vanilla, agave, turkey, spirulina, sweet potato, cactus, and chili pepper. Its history over the centuries has resulted in regional cuisines based on local conditions, including Baja Med, Chiapas, Veracruz, Oaxacan, and the American cuisines of New Mexican and Tex-Mex.
After the Spanish Conquest of the Aztec empire and the rest of Mesoamerica, Spaniards introduced a number of other foods, the most important of which were meats from domesticated animals (beef, pork, chicken, goat, and sheep), dairy products (especially cheese and milk), rice, sugar, olive oil and various fruits and vegetables. Various cooking styles and recipes were also introduced from Spain both throughout the colonial period and by Spanish immigrants who continued to arrive following independence. Spanish influence in Mexican cuisine is also noticeable in its sweets such as: alfajores, alfeniques, borrachitos and churros.
Asian and African influences were also introduced during this era as a result of African slavery in New Spain and the Manila-Acapulco Galleons.
Mexican cuisine is an important aspect of the culture, social structure and popular traditions of Mexico. The most important example of this connection is the use of mole for special occasions and holidays, particularly in the South and Central regions of the country. For this reason and others, traditional Mexican cuisine was inscribed in 2010 on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.
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