The most popular international cuisine in the United States certainly appears to come from south of the border. Mexican food is now served in 10% of restaurants in the United States. This particular ethnic category, though, is far more diverse in origin and character than the typical consumer might assume. In fact, Mexico is considered one of the top mega-biodiverse regions. It should follow that its inhabitants taste in cuisine is as diverse as its geography.

Authentic Mexican cuisine has also been influenced by numerous cultures over the years: Spanish, French, and Native Mexican populations in particular. Mexican recipes inherit the time-consuming, highly-complex qualities of French cuisine. The dishes and ingredients have been linked to the 2,000-year-old tradition of the Mayans.

Mexican restaurants in the United States have picked qualities of these niche and complicated meals and reduced and Americanized these meals. Many typical dishes found north of Rio Grande are entirely American in origin: meals such as nachos, burritos, and hard tacos to name a few.

Tex-Mex food still maintains deep ties with traditional Mexican cuisine. In fact, the provinces were united as New Spain for over 300 years until 1821 when Texas cut ties with the Spanish. If you are in search of authentic Mexican catering, dishes, or fast casual food, there are a few, clear indicators of its authentic nature versus Texan roots. Here are a few tips on how to spot authentic Mexican food.

Ingredients

The components of Mexican dishes differ widely from region to region. This geographical diversity and myriad ethnic influences lend to recipes that are complex and bold. 

Differentiating from authentic Mexican and Tex-Mex is sometimes quite difficult. Many American preconceptions of Mexican recipes are based on Tex-Mex's combination of authentic Mexican ingredients and American ones.

Ingredients found in authentic Mexican catering will have fresh vegetables such as onions, tomatoes, and cilantro; these make up some of the central components of the popular salsa, pico de gallo. If you are looking for a genuine taco bar, search for ingredients like lime, soft corn tortillas, and fresh white cheese. 

In the early 19th century, Americans introduced beef and wheat flour into Mexican-style cuisine, soon to be called Tex-Mex. The intermingling of Texans and Mexicans founded the incorporation of yellow cheese, black beans, canned vegetables, and cumin, which was imported by Americans from India. 

Most American burritos use flour tortillas. The most obvious difference between a flour tortilla and corn tortilla is the texture, but corn tortillas also have fewer calories and more dietary fiber. Yellow cheese is the main component of American queso, and black beans are based on the influence of Native North American tribes.

Genuine Mexican catering, restaurants, and taco bars will incorporate and feature these fresh ingredients into a myriad of dishes. You can easily spot true Mexican food anywhere you go.