Mexican cuisine is a style of food that originates in Mexico. It is known for its varied flavors, colorful decoration, and variety of spices and ingredients, many of which are native to the country. What makes a meal distinctly Mexican, of course, are the lively seasonings. Not all Mexican recipes are fiery, though; while renowned for their heat, many subtle and intriguing spice combinations are also found in Mexican fare. The staples of Mexican cuisine are typically corn and beans. Corn, traditionally Mexico's staple grain, is eaten fresh, on the cob, and as a component of a number of dishes. Most corn, however, is used to make masa, a dough for tamales, tortillas, gorditas, and many other corn-based foods. Squash and peppers also play important roles in Mexican cuisine. The most important and frequently used herbs and spices in Mexican cuisine are chilli powder, oregano, cilantro, epazote, cinnamon, and cocoa. Chipotle, a smoke-dried jalapeño chilli, is also common in Mexican cuisine. Many Mexican dishes also contain garlic and onions. Next to corn, rice is the most common grain in Mexican cuisine. Mexican food varies by region, because of local climate and geography and ethnic differences among the indigenous inhabitants and because these different populations were influenced by the Spaniards in varying degrees. The north of Mexico is known for its beef, goat and ostrich production and meat dishes, in particular the well-known arrachera cut.
Central Mexico's cuisine is largely influenced by the rest of the country, but has unique and tasty dishes such as barbacoa, pozole, menudo and carnitas. Southeastern Mexico, on the other hand, is known for its spicy vegetable and chicken-based dishes. The cuisine of Southeastern Mexico has a considerable Caribbean influence due to its location. Seafood is commonly prepared in states that border the Pacific Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico, the latter having a famous reputation for its fish dishes.
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