Spanish vs. Mexican Food: What is the Difference?

paella cooking in a pan in valencia spain

When people think of the cuisines of Spain and Mexico, they often imagine things that are very similar to each other despite the fact that these countries are located on different continents. Let’s take a closer look at this topic and see if it holds up under scrutiny.

Historical background

The stereotype that the national cuisine in Spain and Mexico is similar stems from the fact that Mexico was ruled by Spanish colonists for a long time. However, do not underestimate the identity and influence of Mexican culture and traditions on what the national cuisine looks like. 

It is important to remember that in addition to the Spaniards, Mexico was also ruled for a long time by the French and Americans. These cultures also contributed to the development of the national cuisine. 

Mexican cuisine itself is quite distinctive and unique.

Basically, Mexican cuisine is mostly a synthesis of traditional Mesoamerican food and European cuisine, with significant Spanish influences. Native cultivated foods such as maize, beans, and jalapenos are essential mainstays.

At the same time, Spanish food refers to a cooking style that incorporates a wide variety of foods and is influenced by the diverse culinary traditions of the country’s many different regions. Food in Spain is inspired by the people that came and lived on its territories throughout the ages. These people included the Romans, Arabs, Persians, and Indians. As a result, the cuisine of Spain was a combo of these cultures. 

The main differences between Spanish and Mexican food

The main difference between Spanish and Mexican cuisine is the degree of spice. Mexicans love to add over 100 kinds of hot peppers to their dishes and set their mouths on fire. 

Spanish dishes, on the other hand, have spices, but not in such large quantities. The Spaniards refer more to the discovery of flavor and aroma with spices such as saffron.

One more distinction among Spanish and Mexican food is the carb basis. People in Spain consume a variety of beans and grains, while Mexicans eat team corn.

Another significant difference is that shrimps, mussels and many kinds of fish are typical ingredients of Spanish food, while meat (mostly pork and beef) is a favorite for Mexicans. 

The Spaniards, like other Mediterranean people, love to add olive oil to all their dishes.

Of course, it’s impossible not to mention the much-loved tortillas, which are common in both Spanish and Mexican cuisines. However, what a tortilla is according to the Spaniards is not at all what the Mexicans think it is. In Spanish tradition, this dish is made with eggs and vegetables, so that it resembles an omelet. While Mexicans base tortillas on their favorite corn flour, making it a type of thin bread.

Traditional dishes

Some more differences can be noticed by looking at the traditional dishes

In Spanish cuisine, there is paella (a rice-based dish traditionally with chicken and rabbit, otherwise with seafood), gazpacho (tomato soup), chorizo (a type of salami with paprika), pisto (a vegetable dish similar to ratatouille with scrambled eggs). 

Mexican food includes burritos (wraps filled with minced meat and vegetables), quesadillas (tortillas with cheese and sometimes vegetables), enchiladas (thin tortillas baked with a filling of eggs or vegetables), and salsa (a spicy tomato-based sauce). 

Related Read: Interesting Facts About Mexican Food

The similarities between Spanish and Mexican food

As we can see, Spanish and Mexican cuisines are very different. Although, not to be confusing, it is important to note that there are obvious similarities

For example, in both cuisines it is common to cook tomato-based dishes. Both Spanish and Mexican cuisines are also characterized by beautiful and colorful presentations with an abundance of vegetables

But despite this, the cuisines are still distinctive and wonderful in their own way. 

Last Updated on March 27, 2023

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