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Cuisine of the Southwestern United States
In Mexico and Central America, a tortilla is a type of thin, unleavened flat bread, made from finely ground maize (usually called "corn" in the United States). In Guatemala and Mexico, there are three colors of maize dough for making tortillas: white maize, yellow maize and blue maize (or black maize).
A similar bread from South America, called arepa (though arepas are typically much thicker than tortillas), predates the arrival of Europeans to America, and was called tortilla by the Spanish from its resemblance to the traditional Spanish round, unleavened cakes and omelettes (originally made without potatoes, which are native to South America). The Aztecs and other Nahuatl-speakers call tortillas tlaxcalli [t͡ɬaʃˈkalːi]; these have become the prototypical tortillas.
Food and drink
A tortilla (or flour tortilla to differentiate it from other uses of the word "tortilla") is a type of thin flatbread made from finely ground wheat flour. Originally derived from the corn tortilla (tortilla in Spanish means "small torta", or "small cake"), a bread of maize which predates the arrival of Europeans to the Americas, the wheat flour tortilla was an innovation after wheat was brought to the New World from Spain while this region was the colony of New Spain. It is made with an unleavened, water based dough, pressed and cooked like corn tortillas.
Flatbread tortillas have been eaten for thousands of years in north, northwest and northeast Mexico, where they are a staple, as well as many southwestern US Native American tribes. More recently, other countries have begun producing them to serve the expatriate Mexican market and the growing demand for Mexican food, particularly in North America, Europe and Eastern Asia.
Food is any substance consumed to provide nutritional support for the body. It is usually of plant or animal origin, and contains essential nutrients, such as carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, or minerals. The substance is ingested by an organism and assimilated by the organism's cells in an effort to produce energy, maintain life, or stimulate growth.
Historically, people secured food through two methods: hunting and gathering, and agriculture. Today, most of the food energy consumed by the world population is supplied by the food industry.
Mexican cuisine is primarily a fusion of indigenous Mesoamerican cooking with European, especially Spanish, elements added after the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire in the 16th century. The basic staples remain native foods such as corn, beans and chili peppers, but the Europeans introduced a large number of other foods, the most important of which were meat from domesticated animals (beef, pork, chicken, goat and sheep), dairy products (especially cheese) and various herbs and lots of spices.
While the Spanish initially tried to impose their own diet on the country, this was not possible and eventually the foods and cooking techniques began to be mixed, especially in colonial era convents. Over the centuries, this resulted in various regional cuisines, based on local conditions such as those in Oaxaca, Veracruz and the Yucatán Peninsula. Mexican cuisine is closely tied to the culture, social structure and popular traditions of the country. The most important example of this connection is the use of mole for special occasions and holidays, particularly in the South region of the country. For this reason and others, Mexican cuisine was added by UNESCO to its list of the world’s "intangible cultural heritage".
"Tex-Mex" (portmanteau of Texan and Mexican) is a term describing a regional American cuisine that blends food products available in the United States and the culinary creations of Mexican-Americans influenced by Mexican cuisine. The cuisine has spread from border states such as Texas and those in the Southwestern United States to the rest of the country as well as Canada. Tex-Mex is most popular in the state of Texas. Tex-Mex is very different from the Southwest cuisine found in Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah. The southwestern state of Nevada and West Coast state of California tend to lie in the middle as far the preferred style of Mexican-American food. In some places, particularly outside of Texas, "Tex-Mex" is used to describe a localized version of Mexican cuisine. It is common for all of these foods to be referred to as "Mexican food" in Texas, other parts of the United States, and some other countries. In other ways, it is Southern cooking using the commodities from Mexican culture. In many parts of the U.S. outside of Texas the term is synonymous with Southwestern cuisine.
Some ingredients are common in Mexican cuisine, but other ingredients not typically used in Mexico are often added. Tex-Mex cuisine is characterized by its heavy use of shredded cheese, meat (particularly beef and pork), beans, and spices, in addition to Mexican-style tortillas. Dishes such as Texas-style chili con carne, chimichangas and fajitas are all Tex-Mex inventions.]citation needed[ Moreover, Tex-Mex has imported flavors from other spicy cuisines, such as the use of cumin (common in Indian cuisine, but used in only a few central Mexican recipes).