The One Thing You Should Never Say in Mexico, Ever

The archaeological complex of Teotihuacan
The archaeological complex of Teotihuacan | © aadrian_gcov / Pixabay
Photo of Stephen Woodman
12 April 2018

In every country in the world there are at least a few no-go topics of conversation. As a foreigner, offering your opinion on the country’s political leaders and history is a pretty universal faux pas, for example. While Mexicans are famously welcoming and easy-going, there are definitely a few things you should avoid saying as a guest.

When it comes to language, you should remember that the Spanish word “estupido,” or stupid, is much stronger and should never be used lightly. It is also useful to remember that the verb “coger” (to take) has a sexual connotation.

When it comes to geography, you should bear in mind that Mexico is in North America, rather than Central or South America.

With regards to money, you should steer clear of asking how much people make – personal finances are a private matter in Mexico.

Mexican pesos | © emiliomeza0 / Pixabay

But there is one thing above all that you should avoid saying in Mexico, partly because it can offend and partly because it could result in you missing out on one of the country’s most celebrated selling-points:

“I don’t like Mexican food.”

People can be quite sensitive when it comes to the topic of Mexican food as the country’s culinary culture is an important source of national pride. Mexicans are not the only people to recognize the merits of their cuisine; UNESCO added Mexican food to its cultural heritage list in 2010.

So while you may be dismissive of Taco Bell’s greasy burritos, bear in mind that UNESCO has other ideas: “Traditional Mexican cuisine is a comprehensive cultural model comprising farming, ritual practices, age-old skills, culinary techniques and ancestral community customs and manners.”

Pozole rojo | © Martha Silva / Flickr

Corn, beans and chili are staples in Mexican cuisine, and quality ingredients such as tomatoes and avocados are in ample supply.

What’s more, Mexico is a vast country, and this size is reflected in its culinary culture. Each of its diverse regions uses very different ingredients and cooking techniques, so it is best to avoid narrow-minded generalisations.

Mexican culinary cultures

There are a wide range of different culinary cultures and styles vying for the foodie’s attention in Mexico. Oaxacan Food is notably unique and delicious. Here you’ll find Mayan and Aztec recipes fused with Spanish ingredients, as well as unusual delicacies such as grasshoppers or flying ants.

The Baja Med movement from (Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula) has also been grabbing the international spotlight in recent years. It is a unique blend of influences including Asian, Mediterranean, and Mexican flavors, and is now available throughout Mexico in some of the main tourist destinations.

UNESCO focused much of its praise for Mexican cuisine on the “Michoacan Paradigm,” which involves the participation of the community in the entire food chain, from planting to eating. The organization said that Mexican cuisine was “elaborate and symbol-laden,” and the knowledge of locals cooks “express community identity, reinforce social bonds, and build stronger local, regional and national identities.”

Tacos de Chapulines | © William Neuheisel / Flickr