Glossary


Omelet is a dish made from beaten eggs quickly cooked with butter or oil in a frying pan, sometimes folded around a filling such as cheese, vegetables, meat (often ham), or combinations.

Pico de gallo (Spanish for rooster's beak), is a fresh, uncooked condiment made from chopped tomato, white onion, and chiles (typically jalapeños or serranos). Other ingredients may also be added, such as lime juice and/or apple cider vinegar, fresh cilantro (coriander leaf). In some regions of Mexico, a fruit salad (watermelon, orange, jícama, cucumber and sometimes melon and papaya) tossed in lime juice and hot sauce or chamoy and sprinkled with a salty chile powder is also known as pico de gallo; it is a popular snack and usually sold outside schools, while the tomato-based condiment is better known as salsa picada, which means minced or chopped sauce, salsa bandera or salsa mexicana, because the colors; red (tomato), white (onion), and green (chile) are the colors of the Mexican flag.

Mollete is made with bolillos sliced lengthwise, spread with frijoles, and topped with Chihuahua cheese. It is then grilled in an oven until the cheese melts. Molletes may also be topped with sliced ham, chorizo, bacon or mushrooms. There is also a "sweet type" mollete. It is made by putting butter over the bolillo and then sprinkling sugar or honey over it and broiling until crisp.

Antojitos (ahn-toh-HEE-tohs) which literally means Mexican Whims are Mexico's version of tapas/appetizers. It includes the corn and tortilla-based specialties like tacos, enchiladas, tamales, quesadillas, burritos, guacamole and tostadas. Antojitos are frequently consumed are considered informal cheap food.

Tortilla often called the "Bread of Mexico," the tortilla is the defining element of a Mexican breakfast. Just like people in other countries might put eggs (and bacon!) on toast to create a makeshift breakfast sandwich, the people of Mexico are always eating some rendition of a breakfast burrito, taco or tostada.

Burritos consist of a filling, usually shredded or dried meat, often mixed with a chile sauce, wrapped in a large, thin flour tortilla. Generally they are filled with beans, meat (either beef or pork), guacamole and salsa. The meaning of a burrito is small donkey. Burritos are known to have been made for the urbanized areas, where they can be picked up and eaten fast without having to sit down.

Enchilada is a corn tortilla dipped in chili sauce rolled around a filling. Enchiladas can be filled with a variety of ingredients, including meat, cheese, beans, chicken or combinations. Varieties include: Enchiladas suizas: suiza, meaning Swiss, is an adjective that indicates the dish is topped with a white, milk or cream-based sauce, Enchiladas verdes: green enchiladas made with green enchilada sauce composed of tomatillos and green chilis.

Tomatillo is a spherical and green or green-purple fruit surrounded by an inedible, paper-like husk formed from the calyx. Tomatillo are the key ingredient in fresh and cooked green sauces.

Green sauces are common in Mexican cuisine. The basis of the green sauce (known as salsa verde) is typically pureed cooked or raw tomatillos, with jalapeños or other chiles, white onion, cilantro, and sometimes lime added to taste. Salsa verde can range in spiciness from mild to mouth-searing. It may be warm, as in a chile verde, or cold, as a condiment. In Mexican cuisine, a green sauce is frequently used as a dip for tortilla chips and served with tacos, grilled pork, grilled meats and even fish.

Chilaquiles (chee-lah-KEE-lays) is a traditional Mexican dish. Typically, corn tortillas cut in quarters and lightly fried are the basis of the dish. Green or red salsa or mole is poured over the crisp tortilla triangles. The mixture is simmered until the tortilla starts softening. Eggs (scrambled or fried) and pulled chicken are sometimes added to the mix. The dish is topped with cheese and/or sour cream (crema), and it is served with refried beans.

Tostadas (literally “toasted”) refers to a flat tortilla that is baked or deep fried. It also refers to the finished dish using a tostada as a base. Corn tortillas are the ones usually used to make tostadas, although in some regions it is possible, but rare, to find tostadas made of wheat flour. In addition to ingredients typically used as taco fillings, tostadas are also popular topped with seafood, such as cooked tuna, shrimp, crab, chopped octopus and ceviche or as companion for stews such as menudo, birria and pozole. Tostadas are also often served as an appetizer or snack, cut or crushed into tiny triangles (known as totopos) accompanied with salsa, guacamole or beans for dipping.

Ceviche is a seafood dish typically made from fresh raw fish or shrimp marinated in citrus juices such as lemon or lime and spiced with chile peppers. Additional seasonings such as onion, salt, coriander/cilantro, and pepper may also be added. As the dish is not cooked with heat, it must be prepared fresh to minimize the risk of food poisoning.

Chorizo is ground pork and beef cured overnight with a little vinegar and a lot of chile powder. Served for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Restaurants and food stands make tacos, burritos, and tortas with cooked chorizo, and it is also a popular pizza topping. Chorizo con huevos, it is made by mixing fried chorizo with scrambled eggs. A popular filling for breakfast tacos is Chorizo con papas, or diced potatoes sautéed until soft with chorizo mixed in.

Sope (pronounced "SOH-peh"). Originally called gordita, it is an antojito which at first sight looks like an unusually thick tortilla with vegetables and meat toppings. The base is made from a circle of fried masa of ground maize soaked in lime (also used as the basis for tamales and tortillas) with pinched sides. This is then topped with refried beans, and crumbled cheese, lettuce, onions, red sauce and cream. Most sopes are roughly the size of a fist.

Machaca is beef that has been marinated, cooked, shredded and then dried. It is very similar to beef jerky. It is available in the Hispanic section of large supermarkets or in Mexican grocery stores.

Huevos Rancheros is a fried egg dish that that is typically served on a tortilla with beans and sauce.

Huevos Divorciados, divorced eggs, are simply two eggs served in the usual style, but with a different sauce for each, usually a red and a green chile.

Tacos are basically tortillas wrapped around a filling. They are usually defined by either the type of filling, the type of tortilla (corn or flour), and whether the taco is fried or not. (Tacos made with fried tortillas are often called tacos dorados, or fried tacos).

Tacos al pastor: pork tacos. Tacos dorados are deep fried. Tacos de pescado: fish tacos; the fish may be grilled or battered and deep-fried. Chimichanga a deep fried burrito. Torta is a breadroll sandwich. Quesadilla a tortilla (usually flour) cooked or heated on the griddle with cheese melted inside. Flauta (resembles a flute) usually like a mini deep-fried burrito, made with a corn tortilla stuffed with meat, shrimp, or another filling.

Tacos dorados are tacos that are usually filled with shredded meat or poultry then fried to a crisp golden brown.

Carnitas are made by simmering fatty cuts of pork in enough lard to cover them until the meat is a crisp golden brown on the outside and extremely tender and juicy on the inside. They are then often served with corn tortillas, guacamole, and a salsa.

Empanadas are turnovers made with a dough of wheat flour and lard folded over a picadillo-type filling and sealed. They can be baked but are most often deep fried.

Tamales is a dish made of masa (a starchy dough, usually corn-based), adding a filling of meat, seafood, insects, vegetables or fruit, which is steamed or boiled in a leaf wrapper.

Milanesa de pollo o res: Breaded chicken or beef.

Tinga is a basically a stewed pork or chicken dish, cooked with a chile sauce and most commonly served on tostadas, but it can also be wrapped in warm tortillas, piled on tortilla chips, or even eaten with a spoon out of a bowl.

Camarones a la Diabla shrimp cooked in spicy sauce.

Camarones al mojo de ajo shrimp cooked in butter and garlic mixed with mushrooms and mild crushed pepper.

Capirotada is a bread pudding made with bread, brown sugar (called piloncillo), cheese, butter, nuts, and raisins and several other ingredients depending upon who makes it.

Salsa, a concoction of chile and often tomatoes, probably comes in more configurations than any other condiment in the world. Both chiles and tomatoes are full of antioxidants and Vitamin C, so salsa is good for your health.