The flavor firm said that Mexican flavor preferences are diversifying. In cheese for example, the US consumer is embracing stronger flavors, beyond the ubiquitous Monterey Jack and nacho cheese, gaining an appreciation for aged Manchego and crumbly Cotija, among more complex and more authentic flavors.
“Food adventurers are leading the drive toward more authentic flavors,” Bell said. “With greater exposure to diverse flavors and ingredients through travel, restaurant dining, television and the internet, consumers are hungering for authenticity at home too.”
Bell is among several firms to suggest that Mexican food needs to be more authentic to appeal to today’s more sophisticated US consumer. Market research firm Mintel found earlier this year that 63% of consumers had prepared Mexican food at home in the previous month, and of consumers who ate ethnic foods at home, two-thirds said authentic, traditional flavors were the most important attribute.
For food manufacturers looking to capture authentic Mexican flavors, Bell splits Mexican foods into four general regions. In Southern Mexico, corn tortillas are a staple and the cuisine favors chicken and vegetables over beef, and features black bean dishes and plantains.
Northern Mexican cuisine is characterized by many of the dishes that Mexican food is known for in the United States, such as large flour tortillas, burritos, pinto refried beans, beef, and Spanish rice, and dried meat is also common.
Cuisine in the Yucatan peninsula features many native Mayan ingredients, including chaya, achiote, hard-boiled eggs, turkey, deer and honey. Typical Yucatan dishes include poc-chuc – pork with achiote and sour orange; chiltomate sauce, made with roasted tomatoes, chilies and onions; and papadzules – rolled tortillas stuffed with hard-boiled eggs and topped with squash seed sauce and chili-tomato sauce.
“Currently the menus in the Yucatan have much variety with influences from Asian cuisine as well as Arabic cuisine,” Bell said.
And in the Baja-Californian peninsula, dishes are characterized by the influence of Spanish cuisine and fresh seafood.