Mexican Food Lesson for Kids: Facts & History

Instructor: David Wilson

David has taught college history and holds an MA in history.

Mexican food is one of the most popular cuisines in North America and has spread from there to the world. Learn about the development of uniquely Mexican dishes and the history of the nation's meals in this lesson.

Coming Together

If you could mix together two types of food, what would taste the best? You could have spaghetti on top of pizza, or ice cream that's in the middle of a pie, or maybe macaroni and cheese with chicken nuggets on top.

It might sound silly to put two foods together, but many meals are a result of two entirely different cultures meeting and making something tasty. Mexican food is a good example of this because it mixes together the meat and vegetables you find in central America with foods from Spain, which ruled Mexico for hundreds of years and introduced its own cuisine, or food style, to the region.

Photo of Mexican torta, a bread filled with meat and vegetables
Mexican torta

Old Meals

Mexican cuisine as we know it today has its roots in the Spanish conquest of the Americas, which began about 500 years ago. Not only did Europeans meet Native Americans then for the first time, they also met Native American foods like corn, tomatoes, chilies, squash, turkey, and (most important of all!) chocolate. The Spanish also brought over their own foods, like beef, bread, cheese, pork, and wine. Mexican food is a mish-mash of these two cultures and their meals.

Europeans did not know that some foods, like avocados, existed before the discovery of the Americas

One interesting part of Native American eating was their reliance on both corn and beans for most meals. While it may seem a bit dull to spend the rest of your life eating corn and beans, it turns out that the pairing supplies essential nutrients, or parts of food you need to be healthy. You can't combine other foods the same way, like potatoes and beans or wheat and corn, and get the same result. However, these two foods together made it possible for many native cultures to be healthy and strong.

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