If one were to draw a Venn Diagram, with the circles representing Mexican Culture, Mexican Culinary Contributions, and Mexican History, the intersection of these spheres would be called Jalisco.
The western Mexican state, whose capital is Guadalajara, is both representative of much of country’s history, and also the source of unique culinary and cultural traditions.
The area was first settled by nomadic groups who moved through the region about 12,000 years ago. The Nahuatl people called the area Xalisco – which translates to “over a sandy surface.” And, indeed, this feature looms large in Jalisco’s history.
The area is part of the geological formation known as the Jalisco Block — what scientists call a “convergent plate boundary.” The movement of huge tectonic plates underneath the soil gave the area its volcanic legacy and unique topography.
The result is a soil composition that makes the area the world’s only source of blue agave. This, of course, means it is the only spot from which true tequila can come!
Because of its rich soils and favorable climate, the area was desired by all who ventured there, and this forged its destiny to a great degree. Invasions, disease and assimilation all drove the settlement and population dynamics from the earliest times.
Like much of Mexico, the area was under Spanish control starting in the 1520s. It was part of the Spanish province of Nueva Galicia, which encompassed the lands from the Pacific Ocean to the foothills of the Sierra Madre Occidental. The province consisted of modern day Jalisco, Aguascalientes, Zacatecas, Nayarit and the northwest corner of San Louis Potosi. Amazingly, during the Spanish occupation, at least 72 distinct languages were spoken in the region.
On June 2, 1823, Jalisco joined with the other Mexican states to form the Mexican Republic. This hardly settled the question of governance, however, as an amazing number of rebellions shook the political landscape from 1825 to 1885.
Throughout its history, Jalisco has always featured a unique blend of native and non-native customs and traditions. Mariachi music and the iconic bands that play that style were born here, as was ranchera music (which is a closely related but distinct style resembling mariachi). Jalisco also is the birthplace of jaripeo — the Mexican style of bullriding.
However, no element of Jalisco’s heritage is as rich as its culinary traditions. We have already noted that tequila, one of the world’s most popular beverages, is produced solely in the state, due to its monopoly on blue agave plants, the essential ingredient in the delicious liquor. But alongside this cocktail king, the region also boasts foods that have taken the world by strom.
Perhaps the area’s best-known dish is birria, a traditional stew originally made with goat, but now often incorporating beef or mutton. It is a staple for celebratory meals, particularly holidays such as Christmas or Easter.
Another favorite, tortas Ahogadas, a “drowned” birote bread sandwich filled with pork, is a staple in Guadalajaran restaurants, as is its close cousin the lonches. Pozole, a delicious soup, is also an export of Jalisco.
And, if the main courses don’t fill you up, the region also has desserts aplenty. Jericalla is a crème brulee-style treat made from milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon sticks. If a cold treat is more to your taste, then nieves de garrafa — traditional handmade ice cream might be your calling. And, if you want something on the lighter side, the region offers bionico, a wonderful fruit cocktail.
If all this talk of food has your taste buds longing for traditional Mexican delights, make your way to Santo Taco and indulge your culinary desires. We make traditional Mexican food using the freshest ingredients and traditional recipes to give you an authentic taste of Jalisco, and its neighboring states!