12 Mouth-Watering Facts About Traditional Hispanic Foods

Mexican Food

While Mexican dishes enjoy widespread popularity, there's a treasure trove of lesser-known traditional Hispanic foods with interesting facts waiting to be discovered. From unique regional Mexican specialties to Chilean archipelago stews, we'll uncover history and traditions that are cool to know about these culinary gems.

1. Mexican Food Has UNESCO Recognition

Antojitos Mexicanos, Mexican Food
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Traditional Mexican food is recognized as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Traditional Mexican cuisine was added to the list in 2010 due to its cultural significance and the techniques involved in its preparation, which often include grinding, pounding, and cooking on open flames. This recognition underscores the rich culinary heritage of Mexico and its importance as a part of global cultural heritage.

2. Salsa Varieties

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In Mexico, salsa is not just one type of sauce. There's a staggering variety of salsas, from the fiery habanero-based ones to mild and tangy tomato-based options. Salsas are an essential condiment in Mexican cuisine. So, while people may think about just the delicious red sauce you use to dip chips, many more varieties are widely used throughout the country. 

3. Insects Are Common Ingredients in Some Traditional Hispanic Foods

Escamoles, ant egg Mexican dish, Mexican food
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Many may be surprised that edible insects aren't uncommon in Mexico. Grasshoppers are a more well-known and popular option, but a lesser-known fan favorite is escamoles. Escamoles are ant eggs, considered a delicacy in the country. They have a nutty, buttery flavor and are often used in gourmet dishes, particularly in central Mexican cuisine.

You'll usually find these specialty options at some of your fancier establishments, but they can also be snacks sold by street food vendors.   

4. Pepitos Were Named for the First Mexican President

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Pepitos are beloved street food, featuring beef or chicken, cheese, and various toppings in sublike sandwiches. Fillings range from corn kernels to crispy potato sticks, and they're generously sauced with guasacaca, a zesty green avocado salsa, and salsa rosada, a delightful blend of ketchup and mayonnaise.

One interesting fact about pepitos is that their name is said to have originated from the nickname of Guadalupe Victoria, the first president of Mexico.

5. National Pupusa Day

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A pupusa is a thick round cake of corn masa flour, a staple of El Salvador. These handheld delights are often filled with beans, cheese, or pork, transforming them into a hearty meal. Enjoyed with curtido (spicy cabbage slaw) and red salsa, pupusas are a national favorite, celebrated on National Pupusa Day every second Sunday in November.

6. Eat Chiles en Nogada on Independence Day

Chiles en Nogada
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On Independence Day, households and eateries across the nation prepare chiles en nogada: green chilies filled with ground meat and vegetables. These are then generously coated in a velvety walnut sauce and adorned with vibrant red pomegranate seeds. The colors green, red, and white in this traditional Mexican dish symbolize the nation's flag, making it a symbolically fitting choice for Independence Day celebrations.

7. The Holy Trinity

Mexican Chile Peppers
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Mexican cuisine features a “holy trinity” of chilies: ancho, pasilla, and guajillo. These versatile peppers play a fundamental role and contribute rich, smoky, fruity, and earthy flavors to many dishes, from moles and enchiladas to salsas and adobo sauces. They showcase the meticulous and artful use of chilies in Mexican cooking.

8. It's All About the Veggies

Mexican Vegetables, Vegetable stand
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In many global cuisines, meat, fish, or poultry usually take center stage, while vegetables play a supporting role. However, the ancient Mayans had a distinctive approach, initially featuring vegetables as the primary focus of their dishes and later incorporating meat and fish.

Modern Mexican cuisine continues this tradition inspired by Mayan heritage, emphasizing vegetables as the central component of its dishes, with meat serving as a complementary element to enhance the overall flavor.

9. Tortillas Everywhere 

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Tortillas are versatile and commonly included in almost every Mexican meal, including breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In the morning, they might be used for breakfast tacos or burritos. They serve as the main vessel for various dishes like tacos, enchiladas, quesadillas, and more for lunch and dinner. Their widespread use makes tortillas a staple for Mexican meals across all mealtimes.

10. Churros Over Doughnuts

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Churros made their way to Mexico during the early 1500s through Spanish influence. Originally resembling breadsticks, they gradually scaled down in size. These fried delights, reminiscent of Spanish-style doughnuts, are coated with sugar and accompanied by caramel or chocolate sauce, making them the favored choice over traditional doughnuts for most Mexicans.

11. Tuna Ice Cream, Anyone?

Tuna Ice Cream, Mexican Ice Cream
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When you hear “tuna,” fish probably comes to mind. However, it's much different than you'd expect! Prickly pear is a type of cactus fruit, and it is commonly known as tuna in Mexico. It is often used in Mexican cuisine to make refreshing beverages, desserts, and sorbets. The flavor of prickly pear is sweet and somewhat reminiscent of a watermelon or a combination of various fruits.

The ice cream is made using caramelized milk sugar and the unique flavors of prickly pear or nopales fruit, which carries a slightly intriguing raw texture. 

12. Best Hot Chocolate Ever 

Mexican Hot Chocolate
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Mexican hot chocolate is far from ordinary. It's prepared from a luscious blend of ground cacao and sugar, resulting in a distinctive earthy flavor that sets it apart from any other variety you've tried. This unique treat is readily available at nearly every restaurant or café throughout Mexico. Many travelers say it's the best hot chocolate they've ever tasted!

Author: Creshonda Smith

Title: Trending Topics Writer

Expertise: Travel, Food, Parenting, Lifestyle


Creshonda is a content writer with a passion for entertainment and lifestyle topics like parenting, travel, and movies. Hailing from Cleveland, OH, she graduated from The Ohio State University with a bachelor's and master's degree in Clinical Social Work. While she has specific topics that she enjoys writing about, she likes to tackle other topics that she's not as familiar with in an attempt to continually improve her writing skills and knowledge about the world around us. Creshonda has written for various publications such as MSN, Detroit Legal News, Jacksonville Journal-Courier, and more. When she's not serving as a Trending Topics writer for Wealth of Geeks, she's searching for tropical destinations to travel to with her family.