The culture of Mexican snacks: Meet the antojitos

14/11/2020

The antojitos are the most faithful exponent of the Mexican popular kitchen. They are a mirror of the pre-Hispanic gastronomy and of its three-hundred-year-old colonial mestizaje.

We talk about the culture of antojito because it is a way of being of the Mexican, a traditional and ancestral food custom that includes practically all social classes, in short, because antojitos appear daily in the life of most of us.

An exhaustive study of cravings would only be possible by a large working group dedicated to this subject for a considerable time and the results would give rise to a true encyclopedia.

It should be noted that nowadays, although Mexican haute cuisine is very much studied, researchers, cooks, gourmets, and writers often leave aside the simplest and most common everyday cravings. The succulence of a mole poblano, for example, is enjoyed perhaps once a month; on the other hand, there is hardly a day when we don't eat one or several tacos. Such omission is perhaps due to the fact that it seems obvious the elaboration of the food of every day, but it is not like that: we have the responsibility to preserve the gastronomic traditions.

It is worth mentioning a common denominator of most of the antojitos, especially the tacos, tamales, and tortas: to eat them you do not need plates or cutlery.

Another aspect is the geographical area within which they are produced. That of the torta is the cities and has to do, of course, with its mestizo character. On the other hand, the consumption of tacos and tamales does not distinguish that frontier: both in the countryside and in the cities, the Mexicans are affected by them.

Another important consideration is that there is nothing more distant in its conceptual and gastronomic essence than the antojitos and the well called fast food. Both names fully reflect what they are. The pleasure of eating by craving, by taste, is the antithesis of eating fast food just to survive.

In Mexico, you can see groups of people eating on a sidewalk or in a market, standing around a stove, enjoying a snack; however, it is very rare to find someone walking and eating at the same time, a common scene in some industrialized countries. In a country or Sunday meeting, you can eat snacks with calm, friendly conversation, over the hours.

Half a century ago, anthropologist Eusebio Davalos Hurtado made a count that reached more than 700 ways of eating corn in Mexico, of course, most of them in cravings, although many dishes are also listed in the form and cold and hot drinks.

Therefore, it must be specified that corn is not only turned into tortillas, but also into a very wide range of regional variants: from tamales in their dozens of different types, to panuchos and salbutes; from atoles, pozoles and chilatoles, to memelas, huaraches and chalupas; from picadas, corundas and gorditas, to molotes, sopes and dobladas; from uchepos, tlacoyos and garnachas, to enchiladas, zacahuiles and tostadas; from hojarascas, tecocos and pemoles, to etabinguis, padzitos and xocoatoles; from the piltamales, the xajoles and the papadzules, to the pinches, the nacatamales and the xocotamales; from the pitaúles, the nolochis and the totomoches, to the chocoles, the tapataxtles and the puxis; from nejos, pinole and champurrados, to peneques, cuatoles and quesadillas; from paseadas, timbales and martajadas, to cazuelitas, garapaches and barquitas; from canastillas, memechas and boronitas, to turulets and ahogaperros!

In short, this universe of corn products goes from the totopos, the infladas, the bocoles, and the chilaquiles, to a vast repertoire derived from corn that would be neatly inventoried here.

By Mexicanist, Source: SIC