Spanish Food Staples

mexicanBy: Nikki Nies

As the ethnic diversity of this nation  evolves, it’s important to stay on top of what people are buying as well what’s being sold in stores.  To ignore such trends limits one’s ability to connect to the masses and inhibits one’s ability to provide the best counseling and ed possible. The American census continues to grow, with Spanish American cuisine permeating through New Mexico to New York.  This type of food is also demanded by the American population.  With a rich history from the beginning of time, many Spanish Americans stay true to their family and cultural traditions to this day.  Many of the dishes made to this day have been passed down from past generations, with Goya products a necessary product on hand. I admit it’s not fair to clump all Hispanic cuisines together, there are some commonalities that can’t be denied.

To provide the best overview of such food staples, it only made sense to provide all information that one might encounter in an ethnic restaurant or within a Spanish community.

Food Description Use
Achiote Paste (Recado Rojo) Rust colored flavorful paste; made from the annatto seed; can substitute achiote oil for paste; originally a Mayan blend  seasoning for meat and vegetables
Avocado/Guacamole Can be mild, medium or spicy; can be smooth or chunky; can include mayo or not As condiment or dip
Beans Up to 20% of bean can be composed of proteins; easily grown; inexpensive; plentiful—can be used in a side dish or main dish Can be cooked with onions; epazote, pork crackling; frijoles puercos (“pig beans”); frijoles charros (“ranch style beans”); can be boiled or refried
Chayote Prickly fruit of chayotera; delicate, almost sweet flavor; Sweet and savory dishes; cooked with raisins, sugar, cinnamon and butter; can be eaten with salt and topped with cream cheese
Chiles 6 varieties; generally has high vitamin C content; diuretic, appetite stimulant and to cure some skin infections Can be stuffed and used as a main dish
Mexican Chorizo Spicy pork sausage
Maize/Corn Large grain plant domesticated by indigenous people; leafy stalk Used for tacos, enchiladas, quesadillas, tortillas; tamales
Mamey Red, smooth, sweet and delicate pulp An excellent oil to nourish hair
Papaya Firm flesh; yellow with delicate aroma and flavor
Pepper Can be sweet, tangy or spicy Most common: bell peppers; also use jalapeno, habanero, poblano or serrano
Queso Fresco Fresh Mexican cheese with crumbly texture; slightly acidic flavor
Tamarind Pods Tropical fruit; similar to lemon or lime juice For sweet and sour taste
Tomatillo Tart flavor; neighbor of gooseberry Chillaquilles
Tortillas Flat bread often made from f corn or flour Used in enchiladas, quesadillas, tacos, burritos; often warmed to make soft
Zapote Soft, red paste consistency; aromatic; with intense flavor Smoothies


While I had to research staples, what foods have I missed?  What are some foods that you keep in your pantry or use in your dishes?


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