Have you noticed that the most important moments in life such as first dates, business meetings and marriage proposals involve dialogue and prepared food around a table? Like any other human, Mexicans are social beings, which means we love coexisting with others in order to be okay. This is why the Mexican tradition of grouping around a table to eat prepared food is not casual, but just one of the most primitive ways of coexisting, an art of living where we stand out.
No matter where in the world you find yourself, a Mexican table can always be identified among others. They’re almost always big tables, with a minimum of 8 diners who won’t stop laughing, joking or messing around with each other. Usually, those who sit around this table have “the eyes bigger than the stomach”, which is why they order a lot of food. Nevertheless, they usually leave the plates empty, because everyone tastes everybody else’s dishes and there’s always someone who ends up eating what nobody wanted. Last but not least, conversation in a Mexican table is always extended after dessert, because the jokes multiply and the pleasure of sharing a table becomes stronger throughout the food ritual, many times accompanied by coffee and/or drinks that make it even more comfy and fun.
Hereafter we share some of the most important elements that play a part in the social expression of our gastronomic culture and simbolice Mexico’s idiosyncrasy around a table.
Variety of dishes: Mexicans love having a lot of options where to choose from, which is why you’ll always find a huge variety of dishes and garnishes in our menus. Even fondas (small restaurants) who offer one single dish for the day, compliment it with nopales, black beans, soup, rice and desserts.
Aguas frescas (flavored water drinks): Horchata, tamarind, hibiscus or lemon chia seed prepared drinks are the typical ones. However, there’s always a “today’s special” water prepared with seasonal fruits that will surprise you with its sweetness and refreshing flavor that go perfectly well with any Mexican craving or dish you’re willing to taste.
Tortillas: Formerly an eating utensil, tortillas are now used to make tacos with whatever stew one has on its plate or just accompany it, which is why you’ll always find a tortillero or tortilla warmer on the table.
Lemon, salt, and salsa: Mexicans’ palate is used to the combination of acidity, hotness and salt, hence we usually add these three ingredients to soups, tacos and some other dishes, achieving a mixture that drives us crazy every time.
Family: Perhaps the most important element of Mexico’s gastronomic ritual. Family allows us being noisy at a table, having a good time while eating and gives us the opportunity to share problems, personal achievements, and anecdotes. Therefore, as mentioned before, a Mexican table is not complete without the presence of family and/or friends.
Now that you’re familiarized with Mexican tables, pay attention when you go eat at a small restaurant, a street food trolley, a local’s house or an elegant Mexican restaurant, because we’re sure you’ll find some of the things mentioned above. If you want to deeply experience Mexican gastronomic culture and seek to learn more about the coexistence around a table, we recommend experiencing one of our food walking tours. You can enter our website or follow our social media Sabores México Food Tours for more information.
Article by: María José Ordóñez Platas