Paul McMahon dares you to shelve your preconceptions, take a trip south of the border and experience Mexican food, coming soon to a suburb near you!
Australia’s food culture is growing and changing before our eyes. We rarely assess that change and we just chomp on the sushi after a pasta lunch with tacos planned for dinner. This is Australia and as the cultural mix grows so does the particular virus that is spreading in our stomachs and triggering a love of food and flavours…without us even realising it.
Most Latinos in Australia are actually of Chilean decent, but you rarely see a Chilean restaurant around the corner. Chilean food is more complex than Mexican food, but they love their palta (avocado in Chilean spanish)…so for a simple solution, have avocado with everything!
Australia has very few Mexicans by comparison, yet the taste of their scrumptious delicacies is spreading across our suburbs. I have lived in Mexico and I know that Mexican food in Australia is heavily influenced by the USA, yet some of it comes direct from Mexico. All in all it does not matter whose influence is stronger, as it is still overall Mexican by origin.
Think of the tacos! Tacos at some restaurants are getting so delicate and full of flavour that it sends you across the border with mariachis and a bottle of tequila (welcome to Mexican food)! You think everyone will dance with you, but all you do is sit and think of which flavour has collided with your tastebuds. I suggest try anything with nopal – it’s a healthy vegetable, a cactus, actually, and is very rare to find here in Australia, as we don’t really eat cacti. It is close to most green vegetables, but unlike them at the same time.
When picking your tacos, DO NOT eat hard shell tacos! That is a creation of the USA and for true Mexican flavour have a soft shell taco with the best chilli sauce you can find. Keep it hot like the Mexicans do…you may cry for a second, but the aftermath is worth experiencing and brings you closer to the culture. I currently have a chilli addiction and I blame the Mexicans for this!
I love sitting in a Mexican restaurant sometimes and hearing Colombian music. Colombians make good music, but so do Mexicans. So I dare you to take this cultural journey with me, turn on the Mexican tunes (I vote that you start by listening to Café Tacuba) and eat your soft shell taco and Mexican grown chilli.
This is one of the main aims of the wayward eater. It is about travelling thousands of kilometres in search of what makes the place unique. That is why Mexican food is working so wholeheartedly in Australia, there are few suburbs without a Mexican place or five. It may have taken a few moments for us to realise it, but now we all know the Mexicans got the food thing spectacularly right.
Since I arrived back in Australia, I have heard a lot of people say Mexico is so dangerous. Funny how they say that without ever travelling to Mexico: “Have you been?” “No.” “Where did you hear that?” “In the news.” Mexico is not perfect but nor is most of the world. Hopefully, the spread of the Mexican food virus is changing a little of your perception.