The Spanish came to Mexico in search of gold, but the greatest treasures they found were
Indian foods unknown in Europe. These foods included corn, tomatoes, chocolate, peanuts,
vanilla, beans, squash, avocados, coconuts, sunflower seeds, and chili peppers. Additionally, the Spanish brought the foods of Europe to Mexico. They introduced meats such as pork,
beef, lamb, chicken, and goat. They brought nuts and grains such as almonds, walnuts, rice, wheat, and
barley. They planted fruits and vegetables such as apples, oranges, grapes, olives, lettuce, carrots,
sugarcane, and potatoes (which they discovered in Peru). And they introduced herbs and spices such as
cinnamon, parsley, coriander, oregano, and black pepper. Mexican cooks combined these foods of European and Mexican origins to create a rich
and flavorful style of cooking that was neither Indian nor Spanish. It was distinctly Mexican.
As Americans settled the Southwest, they were introduced to Mexican food. Many of them liked the
new tastes, and they borrowed recipes from Mexicano cooks. In Texas, the mingling of Mexican and
American dishes resulted in a style of cooking known as Tex-Mex. Across America, a spicy stew of beef
and beans known simply as chili became as American as apple pie.