top of page

Traditional Mexican food: from cliché to reality

Why traditional Mexican food has nothing to do with chili and tacos

Often mixed up with French tacos and Tex-Mex food, traditional Mexican food doesn’t always have the best image. A reputation that is far from reality: associated with junk food, traditional Mexican cuisine is much healthier and more complex than we imagine. At Yacatan, we take stock of the situation together.


Traditional mexican food, the prey of prejudices

Tex-mex and French tacos vs. traditional Mexican food

Though traditional Mexican food is largely unknown in Europe, it is because it is often mixed up with two of its derivatives: Tex-Mex food and French tacos.

Coming from the United States, Tex-Mex food mixes elements of Mexican cuisine, such as the use of the tortilla (made of wheat flour, unlike the original, which is made of corn flour), and Texan cuisine, such as the spices (cumin, paprika, etc.). It arrives in the 80s in France, mainly with restaurant chains.

Born in the Rhône-Alpes region, French tacos flooded the French market in the late 2000s. Inspired by the Mexican dish, the only thing that makes it a taco is its name: in a wheat tortilla folded into a rectangle, the French taco is filled with meat, French fries, and industrial sauces, before being grilled. A version far from the original dish, composed of a small corn tortilla folded in half, and filled with a stew and onions, cilantro and lime...

A dangerous confusion

With these names reminding of Mexico, traditional Mexican food is confused with these types of food, which gives it a poor reputation on the French market.

Often carried by restaurant chains, with ingredients that are not necessarily very healthy, French tacos and Tex-Mex cuisine give Mexican cuisine, by association, an image of cheap junk food...

Traditional Mexican food: a very different reality

A healthier and more complex diet


Say goodbye to the wheat tortillas and the cheese sauce: traditional Mexican food is full of vegetables such as corn, zucchini, cauliflower and tomatoes. Fruits also have a place of choice, such as prickly pear and papaya. Beyond the ingredients, the use of fresh products is extremely important.

More healthy, authentic Mexican food is also more complex and dense than one might think. Between the Spanish, Caribbean and Mexican influences, and the regional particularities, Mexico offers so many different dishes that it is unthinkable to reduce its cuisine to tacos and quesadillas.

Another cliché that comes up regularly is its reputation for being very spicy. While chili is indeed very important in culinary traditions, the type of chili used and the level of spice vary greatly from dish to dish, so Mexican cuisine is actually much more subtle and diverse than one might imagine.

A cuisine full of symbols and traditions

More healthy and diverse, traditional Mexican food is also much more elaborate than one might think. This is due in part to the fact that it is so rich in meaning that it is cited as an example in the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

In Mexico, food has a very strong social aspect. To cook is to invest in one's social relations and to work to bring families and the community together. Even the taste has a social aspect, with certain dishes being made only for certain occasions.

Food is also used for rituals. For the Día de Muertos, for example, tamales and mole are placed on the altars so that the deceased members of the family can consume the essence of the food when they come to visit.

Cooking in Mexico: a prized skill

Because of the diversity of its dishes and the symbolic importance given to food, making traditional Mexican food correctly is a highly prized skill.

Moreover, the preparation techniques are not for the faint of heart. Preparing tortilla dough requires several hours of boiling and grinding corn before cooking them one by one. The sauces and salsa are ground on a mortar. Those practices require a lot of patience and mastery, and continue to be used despite industrialization.


Our mission: to rehabilitate traditional Mexican cuisine

It is to give back to this cuisine the place it deserves that we wanted to create Yacatan. On the menu, we offer traditional Mexican dishes such as tacos and quesadillas, as well as beautiful meat dishes and revisited dishes such as ceviche.

At Yacatan, Mexican cuisine regains its social and symbolic significance thanks to a mystical atmosphere and a culture of sharing and celebration, making it the ideal place to spend special moments with your loved ones.

Do you want to discover new contents related to Mexican cuisine and culture? Don't hesitate to come back regularly on this blog and to subscribe to our instagram account... and to fully enjoy Mexican gastronomy, don't wait any longer to book your table at Yacatan!

Buen provecho,



bottom of page