Mexican Food Lovers

Discussions of Mexican dishes, ingredients and recipes.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

What is Authentic Mexican Food

I have recently been involved in a discussion about authentic Mexican food. The problem is how do you define "authentic".

If two people have two different recipes for the same Mexican food, both having been handed down through generations, which one is the "authentic" one? Are they both authentic even though they are different recipes for the same dish.

For the sake of argument, lets assume that they are both authentic. Now let's take one and adapt it for more modern times by using a canned or prepared ingredient, such as a jar of salsa verde. Is it still authentic or did it lose it's authenticity when you add a "prepared" ingredient.

There's some discord over the issue of authenticity out there in the Mexican cooking world and some passionate debate.

If you want to know what I think, here it is. I don't think there is any such thing as a purely authentic recipe in the sense that an antique could be authentic. A recipe is not a thing in itself, it is only a guideline for preparing food. I think any food that has a history of being prepared for more than one generation can be called "authentic" and that it will have many recipe variations because every cook has to make adaptations based on the ingredients available, cost, personal tastes and time constraints to name just a few things.

If you get your hands on a recipe that claims to be "authentic" but it calls for a can of this or a bottle of that and you're more of a purist, then by all means, make your own adjustment to add homemade this or that and then you have created your own authentic recipe version. A version that is no better and no worse than any other recipe for that particular dish in any way except that it suits your personal requirements.

So if you are lucky enough to get your hands on a recipe that makes a food you abolutely love, instead of examining the historical significance of the recipe, perhaps it's better just to share the food with family and friends and give thanks for the abundance and variety that our world has to offer.

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