Mexican Food Glossary
Have you ever sat down in a Mexican Restaurant and found yourself pondering through the menu. Some of us “gringos,” like me, are completely lost when it comes to Mexican lingo. So whether you are eating out or cooking something fabulous at home, here are some basic terms. Venture forth bravely, the rewards are all in the eating!
Atole: a thick, hot gruel made from corn.
Biscochitos: an anise-flavored cookie.
Burrito: a white flour tortilla, filled with meats, beans, cheese, or a combination of these, and rolled. Often served smothered with chile sauce and melted cheese.
Capirotada: a raisin and walnut pudding.
Carne Adovada: cubes of pork that have been marinated and cooked in red chile, garlic and oregano.
Chalupas: (little boats) corn tortillas fried into a bowl shape and filled with shredded chicken, and/or beans, and topped with guacamole and salsa.
Chicharron: pork skin, fried crisp.
Chile con queso: chile and melted cheese mixed together into a dip.
Chiles Rellenos: roasted, peeled and stuffed (often with cheese) chiles, usually dipped in a batter and fried.
Chimichanga: a burrito that's deep fried, and smothered with chile and cheese.
Chorizo: a spicy pork sausage, seasoned with garlic and red chile.
Cilantro: a pungent green herb used in salsas, etc; the seeds are coriander.
Empanada: a turnover, filled usually with a sweetened meat mixture or fruit.
Enchiladas: corn tortillas filled with meat, beans or cheese, and either rolled, or stacked, and covered with chile sauce and cheese.
Fajita: strips of grilled steak or chicken that come with tortillas, sauteed peppers and onions, and other side dishes to make do-it-yourself burritos.
Flan: caramel custard dessert.
Flautas: tightly rolled, fried to a crunch, enchiladas.
Guacamole: mashed avacado, usually with chopped onion, tomatoes, garlic, lime and chile.
Horno: outdoor, beehive-shaped ovens.
Huevos Rancheros: corn tortillas, topped with eggs, usually fried, smothered with chile and cheese.
Menudo: a soup made with tripe and chiles (known as "breakfast of champions").
Nachos: tostados topped with beans, melted cheese, sliced jalapenos, sometimes served "Grande" with ground beef, or shredded chicken, guacamole and sour cream.
Natilla: soft custard dessert.
Pico de Gallo: salsa with chopped fresh chiles, tomatoes, onions and cilantro.
Posole: a thick stew made with hominy corn simmered for hours with red chile and pork.
Quesadilla: a turnover made of a flour tortilla, filled with cheese or other ingredients, then toasted, fried or baked.
Refritos: beans that have been mashed and fried, most often in lard.
Salsa: generally an uncooked mixture of chile, tomatoes, onions.
Sopaipilla: a puffed, fried yeast bread, that's eaten split and filled with honey-butter.
Taco: a corn tortilla either fried crisp, or just softened, and filled with meats, cheese, or beans, and fresh chopped lettuce, onions and tomatoes.
Tostados: corn tortilla chips, also, a open face corn tortilla covered with refried beans, salsa, cheese, and chopped lettuce and tomato.
* DVO welcomes your kitchen hints and cooking or nutrition questions! Email us and we'll post your hints and Q/A's in upcoming newsletters! *