Spanish Cuisines Vs Mexican Cuisines

Spanish Cuisines Vs Mexican Cuisines


Varied parts of the world are distinguished or distinctive in the manner in which they carry out varied aspects pertaining to their culture. Needless to say, it is extremely difficult to find certain cultures restricted in a specific region as globalization has allowed individuals to move to different parts of the globe and have their cultures watered down. Indeed, this is the reason as to why the United States is termed as a “melting pot”, a term that underlines the fact that individuals from different parts of the globe have come into the country, taken up the cultures of the country and brought in their into the fray. This, however, does not negate the fact that some cultures and traditions are dominant in certain areas. Indeed some traditions and cultures are identifiable with certain parts of the globe. While culture may be expressed through varied aspects, none comes close to the widespread representation of certain parts of the world as cuisines. Numerous cuisines from different countries have entered into the world market. It goes without saying that they come with a different mix of ingredients, cooking styles and basic components, thanks to the fact that they are highly tied to the social structures, popular traditions and cultures of the countries to which they are identified. Two of the most popular cuisines are the Mexican cuisines and Spanish cuisines. While these cuisines come with different and unique characteristics, it is evident that the Spanish cuisines are healthier than the Mexican cuisines.

Spanish cuisine is made up of a variety of dishes that stem from variations in culture, climate and geography. The cuisines are heavily influenced by the seafood that is readily available in plenty from the waters surrounding the country, and comes as a reflection of the deep maritime roots of the country. The extensive history of Spain with numerous cultural influences has resulted in a wide array of distinctive cuisines that literally come with thousands of flavors and recipes. As a Mediterranean diet, Spanish cuisine is renowned for its fresh ingredients, as well as health benefits. Among the numerous recipes that compose the different Spanish cuisines, a few are categorized as common to almost all (if not all) of Spain’s regions, although some of them have well known origin and are associated with particular regions in the globe (Casado 12). On the same note, there are numerous dishes that are based on soups, beans (such as green beans, lentils and chickpeas), not to mention the numerous regional variations, bread in uncountable forms with unique varieties in the varied regions (Casado 13). It is worth noting that the regional variations are significantly less pronounced with regard to desserts and Spanish cakes such as custard, flan, rice, torrijas, pudding, madeleines and churos. Mexican cuisines, on the other hand, revolve around a style of food that is fundamentally a fusion of European cooking and indigenous Mesoamerican cooking (Knepp 26). The primary staples, however, remain the native beans, chili peppers and beans. However, numerous other foods were introduced by Europeans, the most crucial of which is the meat obtained from domesticated animals, dairy products, as well as varied spices and herbs (Knepp 34). As much as it bears some similarities with the Spanish cuisines thanks to the influence of Spanish diet, the cooking techniques and foods are mixed. Over the centuries, the mixture has resulted in different regional cuisines that are based on the local conditions. Nevertheless, the Mexican cuisine has connected to the popular traditions, social structure and culture of the country. Mexican cuisine is extremely complex, composed of ingredients that are native to Mexico alongside those that were brought to the country by the colonialists. Native ingredients in the cuisine include squashes, tomatoes, vanilla, avocadoes and cocoa, as well as ingredients that are not common in other cuisines including vegetables like papaloquelite, small criollo avocados and huauzottle, and edible flowers. Contributions from the Europeans include herbs, spices, cheese, beef, chicken, pork, as well as some fruits. Of course, there are questions as to how much of the Mexican cuisine are indigenous, as to come without the input of the European ingredients (Knepp 37). Nevertheless, the basic Mexican cuisine incorporates beans, corn and chili pepper used as a seasoning. However, while the Mexican and Spanish cuisines are unique and different in their own ways as to derive their importance from the differences, there are varied aspects that make the Spanish cuisine healthier and superior to the Mexican cuisine (MacNeil-Fife 194).

First, Spanish cuisines come with a relatively lower calories content than the Mexican cuisines. Of course, it is well appreciated that Mexican cuisines, especially in the United States, come in enormous portions. However, this comes with the danger that an individual will consume an entire day’s worth of calories in one single mean. More often than not, dishes are fried with lard before being topped with cheese. A large number of Mexican dishes are blended with varied other options so as to come up with the enormous platters. Looking at the common ingredients in Mexican cuisines, it is evident that they are essentially loaded with potential or likely calorie landmines right from sour cream and cheese to guacamole and crispy tortilla shells (MacNeil-Fife 194). The staple ingredients include incredible sources of complex proteins and carbohydrates such as beans and rice alongside fresh fish, tomatoes, poultry, beef and corn. A large number of restaurants prepare the refried beans using lard, which is known for its high calorie content. Guacamole, more often than not, has extremely high calorie content, while the taco salads are known to incorporate over 1000 calories (MacNeil-Fife 194). A large number of ingredients making up the salad are healthy, but the additional condiments, beef, cheese, and the calorie-laden tortilla shells have the capacity to sabotage an individual’s meal. As much as the carne asada comes as extremely tasty, it is never on the healthy side. More often than not, the cut of beef that is used in making the dish is usually extremely fatty (Xiong 37). This is unlike the Spanish cuisine that comes with an extremely low calorie and fat content. Spanish cuisine is mainly composed of heart- healthy olive oil as the key source of fat, vegetables, nuts, beans and fresh fruit. Tapas make up an integral component of the Mexican cuisine, usually coming in small portions. While meat is a common component of the Spanish cuisines, Spain has gained popularity for its ham, which, in spite of its high sodium content, is a significantly lean protein source. On the same note, Spanish cuisines incorporate a low calorie tomato soup called gazpacho unlike the beef soup that is incorporated in the Mexican cuisines. Of course, there exists high fat Spanish dishes but it is easier to eliminate them than is the case for Mexican cuisines. For Spanish cuisines, all an individual would have to do is evade foods such as sausages and cheese and take small portions of the different foods. However, this is difficult to do in the case of Mexican cuisine considering that a large number of the cuisines are made using high-fat components such as beef, high-calorie beef oil, pork, wheat, and others.

In addition, Spanish cuisine comes with a considerably low content of spices as seasonings (Caruso 17). Mexican cuisine is never complete without hot chili peppers and cilantro, which are the most fundamental seasoning for every dish. Of course, the chili peppers come with an additional flavor and spice to the various Mexican dishes, to the extent that they may essentially be their distinguishing factor. Many claims have been made to the effect that chili peppers come with numerous health benefits including helping individuals in pain management, as well as accelerating weight loss. However, research shows that chili peppers that are so common in Mexican cuisines come with extremely serious health hazards. For example, animal and test-tube studies conducted by the National Institute of Public Health of Mexico and the Yale University School of Medicine showed that there is a positive correlation between the consumption of chili pepper and stomach cancer. Individuals who consumed a single hot pepper chili in a day were shown to stand an increased risk of contracting stomach cancer than individuals who did not consume it at all. On the same note, all spicy foods, especially those that incorporate chili peppers, have the capacity to cause indigestion, reflux, and heartburn. Intestinal discomfort is common is common with chili peppers and their extracts such as capsaicin, with symptoms such as stomach upset, diarrhea, and painful bowel movement among others. It is, therefore, no wonder that chili peppers are a no-go zone for individuals who have recently undergone anal surgery or have ulcers. However, Spanish cuisines rarely come with peppers especially considering that it is extremely difficult to come across spices such as cilantro (Caruso 17). In instances where Spanish cuisines incorporate peppers, they are of a milder variety than those of Mexican cuisines, thereby eliminating the dangers that come with the hot chilies (Caruso 17).

In addition, questions have been raised as to the manner in which the ingredients used in Mexican dishes are produced. Of course, the staple foods revolve around corn, chili and beans. However, the entry of Europeans in Mexico allowed for the introduction of other ingredients such as chicken, cheese, pork, beef, and other dairy products. Of course, these are recognized as extremely nutritious and as providing health-supporting nutrients. However, the manner in which they are produced raises questions as to how healthy it is to consume them. The increased demand for dairy products, chicken and pork has allowed for the introduction of factory farming in the country (Roden and Jason 55). In essence, a large proportion of the dairy products, chicken and pork used in making the Mexican dishes is produced through factory farming, where enormous numbers of animals are kept in confined structures that have limited space and air. They are fed on inorganic foods that are aimed at ensuring their fast growth and massive productivity with limited resources (Roden and Jason 56). The disadvantage of this means of production goes beyond cruelty to animals as it has a bearing on the health status of the products thus derived. Research shows that the unnatural an unfavorable conditions in which these animals are raised, coupled with the inorganic substances that are used to fasten their growth and increase their productivity, also compromise the quality and appropriateness of the products thus derived for human consumption (Xiong 45). Unfortunately, these health limitations are passed to individuals through the consumption of these products, thereby compromising their health. Research has shown that these products increase the occurrence rate for certain ailments including serious diseases like cancer, diabetes and obesity. This is especially considering that the substances used to fasten the growth in these animals undertake the same function in human beings once the products are consumed. Abnormal cell growth becomes inevitable, which explains the increased occurrence of these diseases in the recent times. In essence, despite the tasty recipes with which Mexican cuisines come, they may result in even worse health hazards for human beings once consumed (Xiong 47). This, however, is not the case for Spanish cuisines. As stated earlier, Spanish cuisines are primarily Mediterranean diets that are mainly composed of sea food. This is especially considering that the country is primarily surrounded by waters, in which case it has a vast supply of seafood. This, of course, does not mean that dairy products are not eaten in Spain, rather it means that the larger proportion of Spanish diets are composed of seafood rather than dairy products, in which case they come with few of no health hazards to the bodies of the consumers (Caruso 14). This underlines the fact that Spanish cuisines are healthier than Mexican cuisines.

However, individuals who prefer Mexican cuisine over Spanish cuisine have a different opinion as to which one is healthier than the other. They state that one cannot say that Mexican cuisines are less healthy than Spanish cuisine especially considering that the foods that contribute to the unhealthy aspect are of European origin in general and Spanish in particular. Mexico was colonized by Spain with varied foods being introduced into Mexico from Europe by the Spaniards. In essence, they state that the staple foods that make up Mexican cuisine are corn, beans and chili. Corn has been found as containing less calorie content than is the case for wheat, in which case it is recommended over the later (Roden and Jason 56). Other foods incorporated in the cuisines including pork, beef, and other dairy products were introduced by the Spaniards in which case they should not be used in determining how healthy the Mexican foods are. On the same note, they state that individuals have options pertaining to their choice of Mexican cuisine and the Mexican dishes for which they can go, in which case they are not limited to the options that have high calorie content (Walden 44). This would, therefore, refute the aspect of Mexican foods incorporating high calorie content. While the varied beef products, pork and other products that come off as considerably unhealthy may have emanated from Spain, they do not fundamentally make up the Spanish cuisine. On the same note, it is extremely difficult to talk of Mexican cuisine as revolving around the indigenous foods only. As stated earlier, there is contention as to how much of the Mexican cuisine can be said to be entirely from the native Mexico (Perez 34). This is especially considering that a large number of the foods were borrowed from other parts of the globe and make up the main dishes in Mexico. Products such as beef and pork came with the Europeans and were completely incorporated in the cuisines making them part of, as well as inseparable from Mexican cuisine (Perez 44). In essence, they must be considered in determining how “healthy” Mexican cuisines are or making comparisons on the same. On the same note, insinuations pertaining to the range of choices that are offered by the Mexican cuisines are not founded on fact. Of course, an individual is combated by numerous options for Mexican foods, some of which would be effective in reducing the calorie content. While this is the case, it is worth noting that, on the overall, Mexican foods have higher calorie content than Spanish cuisine (Perez 45). For example, Mexican cuisines would have starters such as Nachos, Quesadilla, potato skin with sour cream or even tortilla chips and salsa, all of which have more than 500 calories per serving. The main course would be composed of chili corn carne, beef chimichanga, vegetable fajitas, beef enchilada, beef burritos or chicken burrito, all of which have more than 700 calories per serving (Walden 54). Desert may include pecan pie, banana split, Mississippi mud pie, chocolate fudge cake or key lime pie blended with whipped cream. This means that in a typical meal pertaining to a Mexican cuisine, an individual is likely to consume at least a thousand calories in a single sitting. Compare this with tapas in Spanish cuisine, which may be paella, rice with chicken, stuffed pepper, mushroom in garlic sauce, Spanish omelet, lamb stew, meatballs in sauce, white bait or mussels, all of which have less than 400 calories with some going as low as 200 (Roden and Jason 24). Desserts such as almond flan, rice pudding, and baked custard flan have less than 350 calories per a typical serving. This means that in a typical serving of Spanish food, there is a high possibility that an individual will consume less than 800 calories whereas raking less than 1200 calories in a typical serving of Mexican cuisine is difficult if not impossible (Perez 46). This cements the fact that Spanish cuisine has fewer calories than Mexican cuisine, in which case they are healthier.

In conclusion, foods have come out as some of the most fundamental aspects and representative of the cultures of different countries in the globe. Mexican cuisines and Spanish cuisines come as some of the most popular cuisines in the world, coming with immense influence from location and origin. However, Spanish cuisine comes as healthier than Mexican cuisine. This is especially considering the high calorie content of the Mexican cuisines compared to Spanish cuisines. On the same note, certain components that are integral in Mexican cuisine are detrimental to the health of human beings. Mexican cuisines incorporate chili peppers as an integral part. These have been shown to have a positive correlation with cancer of the stomach, not to mention other disorders pertaining to the digestive system. While Spanish dishes may, in some instances, have some chili peppers, they are the mild type in which case they rarely come with detrimental effects such as heart burns, stomach ulcers and disorders of the digestive systems. In addition, the manner in which the key ingredients in the Mexican cuisines are produced make them detrimental to human health. Mexican cuisines essentially incorporate dairy products, chicken products and other animal products that are not entirely integral in the Spanish cuisines. These have been produced through factory farming in conditions that endanger the animals’ lives, as well as those of the ultimate consumer. It is well noted that the inappropriate conditions under which these animals are brought endangers their lives, as well as those of the people who consume their products. In most cases, they are given feeds, antibiotics and other products that are aimed at enhancing their growth even in the inappropriate conditions within the shortest time possible so as to enhance their productivity and profitability. Unfortunately, these chemicals are not fully synthesized and may be present in their products during consumption. These have been cited as some of the reasons for the occurrence and prevalence of some diseases such as cancer. Spanish foods, on the other hand, do not have domestic animal products as an integral part of them. Being fundamentally a Mediterranean diet, Spanish cuisine is primarily composed of sea food, which does not come with the dangers espoused by domesticated factory animal products. In essence, Spanish cuisines are healthier than Mexican cuisines.

Works cited

Casado, Matt A. Spanish Cuisine: The Gourmet’s Companion ; [a Concise Guide to Spanish Menus & Cooking Terms …]. New York, NY: Wiley, 1997. Print.

Perez, Ramona Lee. Tasting culture: Food, family and flavor in Greater Mexico. New York University.2009, print

Caruso, James C. El Farol: Tapas and Spanish Cuisine. Salt Lake City: Gibbs Smith, 2004. Print.

MacNeil-Fife, Karen. “Beyond beer: Wine with Mexican food”. Sunset 205 (3): 194., 2000. Print

Knepp, Mark Dustin. Tamaladas and the role of food in Mexican-immigrant and Mexican-American cultures in Texas. State University of New York at Albany. 2010 Print

Roden, Claudia, and Jason, Lowe. The Food of Spain. New York: Ecco, 2011. Print

Walden, Hilaire. The Book of Spanish Cooking. Los Angeles: HPBooks, 1993. Print.

Xiong, Mao. Affective testing on the seven moles of Oaxaca. New York: California State University, Fresno. 2009, Print.

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