The Geography of Mexico and Its Effect on Culture and Food
Category: Culture & Society
Mexicans strongly identify with their own state or region in which they live. Mexico has 31 states and one Federal district. With Mexico's large and diverse terrain, residents of the more remote regions may have little knowledge of the customs and diet of their countrymen in other parts.
Most of this region is a desert, which does not support farming. The cattle industry, however, is thriving. The beef raised in the state of Sonora is reputed to be extraordinarily tender and tasty, according to a University of Michigan food blog, and the salsa served in the area is relatively mild so as not to overpower the meat. Dairy also is important, particularly the production of the flavorful cheese Queso Chihuahua. The cowboy culture of Northern Mexico rewards self-reliance and promotes machismo.
Mexico's coastlines touch the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico on the east and the Pacific Ocean on the west. Not surprisingly, seafood and tropical fruits dominate the region's cuisine. Many people along the coasts work in the fishing or tourist industries.
The Sierras and Bahio
Two mountain ranges, the Sierra Madre Oriental and Sierra Madre Occidental, run down the center of Mexico. Between them is what is known as the Bahío, a large agricultural area north of Mexico City. Indigenous tribes populate the mountain regions, isolated from the rest of the country. Their diet is the same as it was before Spanish colonization, consisting primarily of corn, beans and peppers. In the Bahio, however, many types of vegetables, fruits and grains are grown. People in the valley have more contact with the outside world as they export their excess crops.