Mexican Food Terminology

I love Latin America. From the people and culture to the delicious food (and those who have read any of my other posts on here know I think tacos are the world’s perfect food and that I have a deep love for mole and tamales), there isn’t a whole lot to like about a trip to Mexico. Despite my love for Latin America, I speak French and not a whole lot of Spanish, (despite my efforts to improve my language skills whilst traveling). That being said, one thing I have definitely have mastered in Spanish is how to order food (a girl’s gotta eat, right?). For all of those who may be planning a trip to Mexico and want to know a few ways to order some delicious dishes, here are a few phrases and vocabulary terms that will help you eat well on your travels.

Food Glossary:

A la parilla: grilled
Asado (or Asasda): Roasted
A la plancha: pan-broiled
Adobada: marinated in a chile sauce
Agua purificado: Purified water (this is an essential one for those going to Mexico)
Arroz: Rice (a staple in most Mexican diets)
Azucar: sugar
Camrones: shrimp
Cervesa: beer (this is an important one!)
Carne: meat (though this is frequently used as a word for “beef”)
Carnitas: pork simmered in lard
Cebolla: onion
Chile relleno: chile stuffed with cheese (sometimes meat) and fried in an egg bater
Chorizo: Mexican style sausage (it can pretty spicy)
Coco: coconut
Empanada: pastry turnover filled with meat or cheese and spices
Enchiladas: Meat, cheese and spice filled corn tortillas smothered in chile sauce (one of my personal favorites)
Ensalada: salad (though to be honest you won’t find a ton of this on plates in Mexico)
Frito: fried (you’ll see this word A LOT)
Helado: ice cream
Huevos: eggs (huevos rancheros is a popular dish and consists of fried eggs on a corn tortilla, topped with salsa, chilies and onions)
Heuvos revueltos: scrambled eggs
Jamon: ham
Leche: milk (if you want a coffee with cream, order a cafe con leche)
Mariscos: seafood
Langosta: lobster
Pan: bread
Papas: potatoes (papas fritas are French fries)
Plantano: banana or plantain (fried, salted plantains are called patacones)
Queso: Cheese (queso fresco is a type of soft cheese that is sometimes also called cojito)
Verduras: Vegetables

That should help out with all of your basic food needs in Mexico. After a month-long trip in a Spanish speaking country this summer (Panama), the only things I really seemed able to master where phrases and words related to food and alcohol. But, hey, a hungry traveler is not a happy traveler, so learn these phrases and eat and drink up!