Corn is the basis of the Mexican diet, as it has been for thousands of years. It can be found in almost every meal, usually in the form of the tortilla (flatbread). Corn can also be boiled to produce pozole , a hearty corn stew. Popular fruits and vegetables are tomatoes, tomatillos (green tomatoes), squash, sweet potato, avocado, mango, pineapple, papaya, and nopales (from the prickly pear cactus). Though beef is consumed, chicken and pork are more common. The variety of chilies includes the widely known jalapeño, as well as the poblano , serrano , and chipotle . Chilies give Mexican cooking a distinctive flavor, which is often enhanced with herbs, such as cilantro and thyme, and spices, including cumin, cinnamon, and cloves. Cheese and eggs round out the diet. Seafood is most common in coastal dishes.
Though Mexican cuisine is a blend of indigenous (Indian) and Spanish influences, most Mexicans continue to eat more native foods, such as corn, beans, and peppers. Such foods are cheap and widely available. Bread and pastries are sold, but the tortilla, homemade or bought daily at the local tortillería (tortilla stand), is the basis of the typical meal. Flour tortillas are also eaten, especially in northern Mexico, but the corn variety is most popular.
American soft drinks, such as Coca-Cola, have become popular in Mexico in recent decades, but fruit-flavored soda drinks are also widely consumed, as are fresh fruit juices, available from street vendors. Sangría , an import from Spain, and beer ( cerveza ) are also popular beverages. Coffee is normally served spiced and sweet ( café de olla ).
Like all folk dancing, traditional Mexican dances provide a glimpse into the culture of the region. Not only do these dances from Mexico express the rhythms of the music, but also the vital colors woven into Mexican clothing and decoration, as well as themes important to the region such as Catholicism and communion with nature.
Mexican culture shines through the traditional dances of the country. Many Mexican families are planted firmly in religious faith and the rich intricacies of generational traditions and celebrations observed year after year. Dance has long played a role in these special days, such as coming-of-age parties, religious events, and agricultural celebrations. Many American school children learn the Jarabe Tapatío (Mexican Hat Dance) in their classrooms, while tourists to Mexico may witness a performance of Danza del Venado (Dance of the Deer) or Tlacolorerosis (an agricultural dance). While these traditional dances each have very different roots and styles, they bring various aspects of Mexican culture to the