Many people associate Mexican food with “Spanish” food. Really, it’s the influence of the native Mayans and Aztecs that represent the defining aspect of modern Mexican food. Corn, beans and chili peppers were an integral part of the Mesoamerican diet thousands of years before Spain conquered the area. So when you eat Mexican food, you’re experiencing thousands of years of culture.

The Three Main Staples of Mexican Food

1. Corn – Maize comes from the Mesoamerica area, which consists mainly of present day Mexico. The indigenous peoples of the area domesticated corn thousands of years ago. Since then, it has become a food staple for most of the world. Think about that. In 1200 BCE, somebody was enjoying a tortilla with their meal, just like you.

Corn shows up in most Mexican foods because it’s been a part of the food of that region since antiquity. It was such a large part of that ancient culture that it was unthinkable to even consider a meal without using corn in some way, shape, or form. Corn was simply a part of their way of life. Now it’s a part of yours.

2. Beans – Beans also represented a staple to the indigenous peoples of prehistoric Mexico. The peoples of the time domesticated many types of beans. Much like corn, the bean became a very basic staple for them.

3. Chili Peppers – The chili pepper has added the spicy to Mexican cuisine since before it was known as Mexican cuisine. The chili was about as basic an ingredient to the indigenous people as beans and corn.

Chili has been a staple in the area for so long that many Mexicans consider it an important part of their cultural identity. Some believe that any Mexican dish that lacks chili flavoring of any type isn’t truly a Mexican dish at all. Chili peppers were also domesticated in the region.

These three items will make an appearance in just about every Mexican dish to some extent. When Spain finally made it to the area, the cuisine barely changed.

That’s because these food staples were a part of the diet of these indigenous peoples thousands of years before Spain’s arrival. To put that in perspective, it was less than 500 years ago that Spain began their conquest of the area.

Digesting History

So when you’re enjoying your Mexican food, looking for Mexican food delivery services, or seeking that perfect Mexican restaurant, consider the history. Many people never stop to think about how rich in culture their food really is. Mexican food is prehistorical. The three main staples that made it delicious to the people then, still make it tasty now.