Mexican food culture is mostly known for things like tacos, Mezcal, Mole. But there are also great Mexican traditions surrounding food that we practice and the rest of the world could find fascinating. Meals are an integral part of any society, but in Mexico if you eat with a family you will be treated as family for the duration of that meal. Particular habits accompany particular foods, and important emphasis is placed on health and social benefits of different foods.
In general terms ‘provecho’ would be the same as saying ‘Bon Appetite’, although there is no literal translation to English. It’s more than just wishing others a good meal. It is a way to acknowledge the presence of other eaters around and to share the joy of eating with them.
It can be said when on a table, as the food arrives and right before start eating, to wish everyone a satisfying meal.
Also, when entering a place where people are already eating, even if the place is full of strangers we’ve never met before and that we’ll never see again.
Likewise, when leaving an informal eatery, we leave wishing everyone else to enjoy their meals, usually people try to respond by saying “thanks, you too” which sometimes might be in the middle of a bite, forcing you to chew a bit faster in order to say it. It is the perfect phrase for when you’re caught spying on what other people order – a regular occurrence with the delicacies available!
Chili with Everything
More often than not, people think Mexican food is really heavy on the chilis and is always spicy but, even though we do eat chili with everything that doesn’t necessarily mean every meal is fire. We use the chilies because of the flavor and how that interacts and improves a dish, not just because of the heat itself. You can add it as you see appropriate- it’s a personal taste!
However, aside from the flavor enhancement capsicum has many other properties, like releasing endorphins that boost mood,make you feel a bit happier and may even give you a little bit of a high.
It is also a very good source of vitamin C, it helps reducing pain in joints and muscles and it’s a potential metabolism booster.
Long Talks After Meals
Although not an exclusively Mexican tradition, the after-meal conversation, also known as Sobremesa, is a widespread practice in the country.
The word would literally translate as “after table” and it refers to the comfortable talk that happens at the end of a meal, when all the dishes are away from the table and the last crumb of desert has completely disappeared. Diners stay seated at the table to enjoy a long talk in which sometimes subjects, which would other way be forbidden are touched, such as politics, football, religion and so on.
It is a cherished moment that could also be accompanied by a spirit such as a Tequila or any other type of digestif and very often can last up to an hour or even longer.
Make Breakfast the Biggest Meal
Perhaps you’ve heard the saying “Eat breakfast like a King, lunch like a Prince, and dinner like a pauper”? That pretty much describes the Mexican way of eating.
We tend to have quite a heavy breakfast first thing in the morning, foods like eggs or chilaquiles served with a plate of fresh fruit, juice and coffee.
Lunchtime takes place sometime around 2:00 pm and it’s usually a 4 course meal composed of a soup, rice or pasta, the main dish and dessert.
Dinner would usually be a smaller meal or snack, in cases even a corn on the cob with mayonnaise and cheese would do. It could also be a small sandwich or a taco with lunch leftovers.
Experts say this practice is of great benefit for body functions, after all, if food is energy we need it the most when starting the day and not when going to bed.