- The gastronomy that UNESCO recognizes as Intangible Cultural Heritage is traditional food: this means food you can get in covered markets, fondas (small eateries), and even at stands set up on the sidewalk.
Traditional Mexican cuisine is a blend of our pre-Hispanic origins and Spanish customs, which also contained elements from Asia, Arab cultures, and other European countries. Snacks and street food are the most faithful exponents of popular Mexican cuisine; they mirror pre-Hispanic gastronomy and its three-hundred-year colonial mestizaje.
The culture of antojitos or snacks and street food is a way of life for Mexicans, a sort of essence, a traditional and ancestral food custom that encompasses practically all social classes.
The succulence of a mole sauce from Puebla, for example, might be enjoyed once a month; but we don’t skip a day without tacos or quesadillas. And this isn’t fast food; nothing could be further apart in essence than street food and so-called fast food. The pleasure of eating Mexican street food is the antithesis of scarfing down industrial foods. In Mexico we can see groups of people on the sidewalk or in a covered market, standing around a brazier, savoring street food. And at the same time, at a Sunday lunch you can while away the hours eating antojitos all afternoon.
It would be hard to fit the enormous variety of Mexican snacks and street food into a single book. They range from dozens of varieties of tamales, to panuchos (bean-stuffed tortillas with toppings) and salbutes (corn and wheat tortilla with toppings); fat corn dough memelas, sopes, picadas, pellizcadas, tlacoyos, and garnachas with toppings; gorditas or dobladas folded over fillings; bean-filled corn huaraches; and the thinner chalupas with toppings; triangular tamale-like corundas; molotes (deep fried corn-potato dough filled with meat); uchepos (another tamale variety); enchiladas; zacahuiles (huge tamales); and tostadas; hojarascas (cookies); enchilada-like papadzules; and of course, quesadillas, tacos and tortas (roll sandwiches)
- A common denominator in most antojitos is that they are finger food.
- Antojitos have different names depending on the geographic region and they always have local variants.
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