All Mexican Food is Local

If you're reading this, you probably know Mexican food mostly in translation.

Nachos. Fajitas. Burritos. Everything served with rice and beans. This is the Mexican food that so far has travelled outside Mexico.

There's nothing wrong with these interpretations of Mexican food. Some of it is surprisingly based on authentic Mexican cuisine.

But if this is your whole experience with Mexican food, you might get the impression that everyone in Mexico eats the same thing for dinner every night.

Mexico is a varied and diverse country: diverse in ethnicity, geography, and cuisine.

As the climate shifts from the hot and dry north to the tropical rainforests of the south, so does the local produce. Every state (Mexico has states), every region, every locality has its own unique cuisine, often based on things you can't get in other parts of Mexico, let alone in the US or Europe.

Even some of the most familiar dishes, like tamales, have practically unrecognizable local variations.

In a way, there really isn't "Mexican food" so much as "Mexican foods": a kaleidoscope of cuisines you could spend several lifetimes exploring without getting bored.

But if you're reading this, you probably don't live in Mexico. So "in translation" is the only way you can experience Mexican food.

Every day I discover new products and ingredients imported from Mexico, but there will always be something you just can't get hold of.

Mexican cheeses do not travel well.

I have never seen jicama or fresh epazote in the UK.

And with over 200 varieties of chile, you'll never be able to find them all.

So what do you do?

You improvise. You get hold of whatever you can, and make substitutions for what you can't get.

You can't get queso fresco, but you can make your own or use feta, ricotta, or even mozzarella.

You can't get hoja santa, but you can substitute tarragon.

Even cooking techniques have to evolve. Mexican chicken needs to be boiled to tenderize. British chicken does not.

What you create will be your local version of Mexican food, made with your ingredients and your instincts. Your local version of Mexico.

Cooking is a kind of art, and a performance art at that. Every time you cook, it's an expression of your individuality, your taste, your history, and your environment.

Every time you cook, you're putting something of yourself on that plate.

That's why all Mexican food is local.