The staples of Mexican cookery are typically corn and beans. Corn, traditionally Mexico's staple grain, is consumed fresh, on the cob, and as a component of numerous dishes. Most corn, however, is used to produce masa, a dough for tamales, tortillas, gorditas and several other corn-based foods. Squash and peppers also play significant roles in Mexican cuisine.
The most significant and regularly used spices in Mexican cookery are chilli powder, cumin, oregano, cilantro, epazote, cinnamon and cocoa. Chipotle, a smoke-dried jalapeño chilli, is also common in Mexican cuisine. Many Mexican dishes also contain garlic and onions.
Next to corn, rice is the most common grain in Mexican cuisine. According to food writer Karen Hursh Graber, the initial introduction of rice to Spain from North Africa in the 4th Century led to the Spanish introduction of rice into Mexico at the port of Veracruz in the 1520s. This, Graber says, created one of the earliest instances of the world's greatest fusion cuisines.
Mexican food varies by region, because of local climate and geography and ethnic variations among the indigenous inhabitants and since these different populations were influenced by the Spaniards in varying degrees. The north of Mexico is known for it’s beef, goat and ostrich production and meat dishes, in particular the well-known Arrachera cut.
The six regions of Mexico differ greatly in their cuisines. In the Yucatan, for example, a unique, natural sweetness (instead of spiciness) exists in the widely used local produce along with an unusual love for achiote seasoning. In contrast, the Oaxacan region is known because of its savoury tamales and celebratory moles, while the mountainous regions of the West (Jalisco, etc) are known for goat birria (goat in a spicy tomato-based sauce).
Central Mexico's cuisine is largely influenced by the rest of the country, but has unique dishes for example barbacoa, pozole, menudo and carnitas.
South-eastern Mexico, on the other hand, is known because of its spicy vegetable and chicken-based dishes. The cuisine of South-eastern Mexico has a substantial Caribbean influence due to its location. Seafood is commonly prepared in states that border the Pacific Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico, the latter having a famous reputation because of its fish dishes, à la veracruzana.
In the Yucatán, the Mayan people have practiced beekeeping for 1000’s of years. Honey is an important ingredient in lots of Mexican dishes, such as the rosca de miel, a bundt-like cake and in beverages such as balché.
In Pueblos or villages, there are also more exotic dishes, cooked in the Aztec or Mayan style (known as comida prehispánica) with ingredients ranging from iguana to rattlesnake, deer, spider monkey, grasshoppers, ant eggs and different kinds of insects.
Recently other cuisines of the world have acquired popularity in Mexico, thus adopting a Mexican fusion. As an example, sushi in Mexico is often created using a variety of sauces based on mango or tamarind, and very often served with serrano-chilli-blended soy sauce or complimented with habanero and chipotle peppers.