Nothing captures the spirit of a culture quite like its cuisine, and nowhere is that more evident than in the ancient, incredible and enigmatic land of Mexico, whose inhabitants date back 13,000 years.
17 Jan 2014 - 10:51 AM  UPDATED 23 Jan 2014 - 3:45 PM

I went into this next adventure of mine with open arms, mind and mouth... and was stopped immediately at the border; my old friends from The Precinct [the show’s production company] and I flew into the country as a large posse, laden with equipment and bags, which naturally flagged us as “drug smugglers” and attracted the attention of the border guards.
After this slight hold up, our first stop on the itinerary was just south of the American border in Chihuahua — yes, the town where Paris Hilton’s pooch originates from. And just like in Beverly Hills, we saw chihuahua heads popping out of most handbags — although, the bags were not as designer. Aside from these dog-adorned bags, Chihuahua seemed like a scene from a Wild Western, with gun-slinging cowboys, dust and a whole lot of Texas longhorns (a variety of beef cattle that actually came from Mexico). “Texas longhorn” was the first of the many misnomers I discovered throughout my trip; in fact, many things you wouldn’t even dream of actually originated in Mexico.
One such discovery was chewing gum! Since ancient times Mexican Indians chewed the gum from the sapodilla tree to not only clean their teeth, but also because the gum had medical properties that strengthened their immune system. This practice of gum chewing spread from the indigenous Mexicans to the wider population. In fact, the president General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna was a gum-chewing practitioner, and when he was kicked out of the country in the 1860s, it’s said that he fled across the border to New York still chewing some of the local gum. In New York, he bumped into a guy named Thomas Adams who asked the ousted president what he was chewing and Santa Anna replied, “Oh, we all chew it”. Intrigued by the gum’s chewiness, Adams tried using it to make tires and other items, but in the end he found that simple was best and formed the incredibly successful Adams New York Chewing Gum in 1871. That was the beginning of my discovery that not much didn’t originate in Mexico; you name it, the Mexicans created it.
Mexican Fiesta with Peter Kuruvita premieres on Thursday 13 Feb at 7.30pm on SBS ONE.