Monday, November 17, 2008

History of Mexican Cuisine

The history of Mexican immigration has taken a similar route as Chinese immigration. Mexicans immigrated to America for many of the same reasons as other immigrants; they wanted a better life for themselves and their families. “Before Mexican workers supported American agriculture, it was the Chinese who filled the labor hole. Nearly 200,000 Chinese were legally contracted to cultivate California fields, until the Chinese Exclusion Act. Then it was the Japanese who replaced the Chinese as field hands. Between 1850 and 1880, 55,000 Mexican workers immigrated to the United States to become field hands in regions that had, until very recently, belonged to Mexico” (PBS). Just like the Chinese, many Mexicans immigrated to the United States to work on railroads that were being built to link the United States and Mexico. “Agencies in Mexico recruited for the railway and agriculture industries in the United States” (PBS). Many Mexicans were skilled laborers, farmers, and producers who were being forced to leave their country due to the War of Secession and low crop harvests. The Mexican people brought their own culture and food with them when they immigrated. They have also affected the culture and food of the United States as well. “Impoverished Mexicans fled their rural communities and traveled north to work as braceros. It was mainly by the Mexican hand that America became the most lush agricultural center in the world” (PBS).

Mexican food is one of the most popular ethnic cuisines in America today. Over the course of its history it has been influenced by many other cultures. The Spanish explorer, Cortez, has probably had the most influence, bringing in Spanish cuisine and melding it with Mexican traditions. When Cortez conquered Mexico he introduced many new foods to the land that previously were not a part of the culture. “Recipes and ingredients from Africa, South America, Caribbean, France and the orient found their way through the Spanish - Mexico conduit” (TexMex ToGo). The Mexican food that we Americans know and love is derived from a small portion of Mexican cuisine as a whole. Mexico is a large country that is divided up by its own sub-cultures, each of which have different types of food. A majority of the Mexican food that we consume here is considered Tex-Mex because it joins Mexican cuisine with American tastes.

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