Like many cultures around the world, food is an integral party of family life. Family meal times are an opportunity to gather for the preparation and sharing of food. It is the same in Mexico where breakfast, lunch and dinner are times for families to come together and share each other’s company over good food. Special occasions and celebrations in Mexican culture, such as the Day of the Dead, are elaborate affairs where typical Mexican family food flows with abundance.
There are socio-economic and geographic factors that influence the ingredients used in typical Mexican family food as well, one thing is for certain: tortillas are available at every meal! This is how a day of typical Mexican family food looks:
Served from 7am – 10am. Breakfast can include sweet breads or Conchas, exotic fruits like red papaya, the tastiest papaya you’ll ever eat, tamales, or eggs a hundred different ways, huevos rancheros, huevos a la Mexicana, huevos divorciados, huevos con papas the list goes on! Always served with corn tortillas, never toast, you’ll never find a toaster in a Mexican kitchen. When a bigger breakfast is in order Chilaquiles may be on the typical Mexican family food menu. Corn tortillas are cut into quarters and deep fried (our totopos make awesome chilaquiles) before they are drowned in spicy salsa topped with fried eggs, seared steak, a little cheese and sour cream and sliced onion plus a serve of frijoles or refried beans on the side. We think this is where westerners got the idea for Nachos. Bring your appetite!
Mexicans eat their lunch a little later than Australians – usually from 1.30pm to 4.00pm. Lunch is the main meal of the day and often includes two courses. The first course is usually a salad or soup, referred to as consume. This is usually followed by a main course of meat, chicken or seafood served with rice, beans and corn tortillas. Lunches are long and a time for catching up, school finishes around 1pm and factories close so families can be home to eat lunch together. Certainly, this is a dying tradition as Mexico becomes more modernised and 9-5 jobs become the norm. But the Mexican solution is Comida Corrida – a small eatery where a traditional lunch is cooked. There are usually 2 options per day and it always follows a similar style to what is served at home. Soup or salad to start, rice, then the meat, it may be Mole with chicken or chiles rellenos and a tortillero filed with a bottomless supply of warm corn tortillas. The options are endless.
Dinner is typically much lighter than lunch and is eaten at around 8pm. Usually something simple is prepared in the home kitchen such as quesadillas, tortillas filled with lunch leftovers or sweet bread and atole (drinking custard). Often people head out for tacos or tamales.
While the style of eating and meal times in Mexico may be somewhat different to our own culture, two things are certain: 1) typical Mexican family food is a time for gathering and sharing and 2) there will always be corn tortillas!