Between "Tex-Mex" and Southwest-style everything, Americans have a tendency to take inspiration from Mexican food in our cuisine -- almost three-fourths of American homes use Mexican ingredients in their cooking! This Americanization has led to many misconceptions about authentic Mexican food. Here are ten signs your Mexican cuisine experience hasn't even crossed the U.S. border:
You think everything is full of meat
You may think of ground beef or carne asada every time you think of Mexican food, but many Mexican food recipes are seafood-based, or even bean and veggie based. Tacos aren't just for meat eaters!
You think everything is too spicy
While American Mexican food tends to have a kick to each dish, many authentic Mexican dishes are light in flavor, and showcase on mild ingredients like bell peppers.
You think there's no such thing as healthy Mexican food
Mexican food recipes in the U.S. tend to call for greasy fried meats and melted cheese (and so do many authentic recipes!), but Mexico offers hundreds of recipes that are full of fresh, bright vegetables, fresh fish, and other nutritious ingredients.
You prefer hard shell tacos
The hard taco shells you can find in a store are a totally American concept. Real Mexican tacos are served on soft corn tortillas, usually grilled or steamed. If you're looking for more crunch, try a tostada!
You believe fajitas are the real deal
This may come as a surprise but fajitas are another very American invention, introduced in Texas in the 1930s.
You put "queso" on everything
The word queso is simply Spanish for "cheese". In the U.S., queso is a melted cheese sauce or dip made with cheddar and peppers. The closest thing you will find in authentic Mexican food is queso fundido, but they're certainly not using cheddar cheese, and it isn't used to smother every dish.
You think churros are the only Mexican dessert
Churros are undoubtedly delicious, but they actually stem from a Chinese recipe called youtiao, which were salted strips of fried pastry. It was eventually popularized in Spain, who brought it to South America. If you want to try another Mexican dessert, consider flan or ice cream flavored with fresh fruits like mango.
You expect huge portions with every topping you can think of
American portions are larger than most, but nothing compares to the gigantic, overstuffed burritos found in any Mexican restaurant in the States. Authentic Mexican food is less enormous and more simple. Think small tacos with just a few toppings to bring out the flavor.
You put sour cream and "taco" cheese on your "Mexican" dishes
The taco cheese you find in the dairy aisle at your local grocer is worlds apart from authentic Mexican cheeses, which are light and tangy, and a perfect compliment to Mexican flavors. And sour cream isn't found on top of tacos; Mexican food recipes are more likely to have crema, a milder and thinner option.
You expect tortilla chips on taco night
Tortilla chips are an American addition to the table; even traditional nachos were made with fried tortillas, not chips. But who cares? You need something to scoop up your guacamole.