Our Favorite Mexican Cultural Exports
It’s no secret that Mexico’s culture is world-renowned for its vibrancy and influence. Just take a look at the Mexican restaurants, tequila cocktails, and Frida Kahlo murals in cities around the world — Mexico is a cultural force like no other.
We’ve compiled some of our favorite Mexican cultural exports that we believe have changed the world forever.
For many Americans and others around the world, the most familiar Mexican cultural export is the many delicious and flavorful foods of Mexico.
While there are some very obvious dishes that are common in Mexico (Tacos, anyone?), there are some specific Mexican food exports that many might be surprised originate from Mexico!
While many people may think of Italy first when they think of tomatoes, the world actually has Central and South America, including Mexico, to thank for tomatoes being the household staple they are today.
Tomatoes originally appeared naturally in the Andes region of South America, eventually being grown and cultivated in Mexico. When Europeans first arrived in Mexico, they took a liking to the delicious fruit. From there, they were adopted in Europe, including Italy. Who knew we all had Mexico to thank for pizza!
We all know how much the native people of Mexico relied on corn, or maize, as part of their diet. But did you know that indigineous Mexicans also were the first to pop maize? While at first natives cooked ears of corn over a fire, they eventually used a clay pot to catch the kernels, which popped when heated.
While peppers are grown, packaged, and exported from countries all over the world, the chili pepper originates from Mexico.
Similar to tomatoes, Europeans first were introduced to chili peppers when they landed in Mexico, before bringing the spicy aromatic with them back to Europe.
Move over Belgium, Mexico is actually the originator of chocolate as a delicious treat. While Europeans were the first to add sugar to chocolate to make it easier on the palette, the Olmec people are thought to have been the first to make chocolate from cocoa beans.
Instead of eating it in a solid bar, the Olmecs made a fermented beverage. The concept was then adopted by the Maya and Aztec people for their own preferred style of beverages as well (hot and cold, respectively).
Tequila and mezcal
Is there anything more refreshing than a beautiful tequila cocktail on a warm, sunny day?
Of course, tequila’s origins are in the North Pacific Coast of Mexico. While this region boasts culinary exports and delicious seafood such as marlin, swordfish, and octopus, no doubt the most famous of it’s delights is the humble agave plant. What is agave best known for? Tequila, as well as its smokey cousin mezcal.
Tequila was first produced in the city of Tequila in Guadalajara. Now, in order for tequila to be called “tequila” commercially, it must be made from blue agave plants from Mexico. Agave on the other hand, can be grown and fermented anywhere.
While most people have heard of Margaritas, which prominently feature tequila along with lime and triple sec, there are many delicious cocktails featuring tequila and mezcal.
- Pineapple and mezcal tonics
- Charro negros
Art (more specifically Frida Kahlo)
While it may not be immediately recognizable at first glance, Mexican artists have influenced artists the world over. Be it through the revolutionary themes of Diego Rivera or the figurative abstract style of Rufino Tamayo, Mexican art has truly changed the direction of visual artistic works.
While many Mexican artists have been influential, none more so than Frida Kahlo. As a singular artist, Kahlo produced many works that can be seen and enjoyed anywhere you go in the world. Even more importantly however, Frida popularized a form of naturalistic artistry that utilized the world around her to display her internal anguish and personal feelings.
Celebrations (particularly Dia de los Muertos)
It is no secret that Mexicans like to celebrate. In fact, there is likely no country that can match the festive spirit of Mexico.
Dia de los Muertos, also known as the day of the dead, celebrates the unity of life and death and is celebrated October 31st–November 2nd. While many Mexican holidays are celebrated outside of Mexico, none have quite the reach and significance of Dia de los Muertos.
In addition to lending many of the holiday’s celebratory themes to the American holiday Halloween, Dia de los Muertos also is a great expression of the Macabre Mexican festive spirit. This mystical spirit can actually be seen in popular culture across the world, including being featured prominently in clothes, tattoos, and festivals.
One of Mexico’s primary material exports, silver, is also an important part of one of Mexico’s cultural exports: silver jewelry.
Due in large part to silver’s status as an economic driver in the country, Mexican’s have a lot of pride in silver. This has been the case for hundreds of years, which is reflected in the history of silver jewelry in the country.
While modern Mexican jewelry centers around Taxco and the brilliance of William Spratling, native Mexican people have been making jewelry out of silver since the pre-Columbian era. It was worn by Aztec rulers and offered to gods. The detail on these pieces were incredible, and some can still be seen in Museums such as the William Spratling Museum in Taxco, Mexico.