• Elote (corn on the cob): the Mexican street snack.
Navigating not only a Mexican menu but an entire cookbook (or in my case, a journey through a country, language, culture and cuisine I had very little experience with) can be daunting, to say the least. Here are a few words to log into your mental dictionary that will have you on your way to cooking – or simply enjoying – a Mexican fiesta in no time!
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7 Feb 2014 - 10:53 AM  UPDATED 13 Feb 2014 - 2:28 PM

Adobo: the word “adobo” can be found in Spanish, Filipino (Pinoy) and Mexican cooking dictionaries, and it means quite a breadth of different things depending on the cuisine. In Mexico it means a blend of chillies, garlic, vinegar, onions and tomatoes, and is typically used to flavour meats

- Ajo: garlic

- Albóndigas: a specialty street food made of ground meat with seasoning and rice rolled into a ball and served in broth, usually with vegetables

- Al carbón: marinated meat 

- Al horno: oven-baked

- Antojito: appetiser

- Arroz: rice

- Azúcar: sugar

- Bolillo: a loaf of bread similar to a baguette

- Borrego: lamb

- Calabaza: squash

- Caldo: soup

- Camarón: shrimp

- Carne: meat

- Carnitas: slow-braised shredded meat, generally pork or chicken

- Cebolla: onion

- Cecina: dried, salted meat, usually beef

- Cerveza: the Mexican word for “beer”

- Chilaquiles: a popular breakfast dish made of fried tortillas with salsa or mole and topped with cheese

- Chimichanga: a deep-fried burrito with meat filling

- Chivo: goat

- Elote: corn (also known as “maize”)

- Ensalada: salad

- Escabeche: a pickle or marinade

- Frijoles: beans

- Galletas: cookies

- Gringas: a quesadilla (soft tortilla with melted cheese inside) with al pastor (marinated pork)

- Helado: ice cream

- Hongos: mushrooms

- Huevos: eggs

- Jamon: ham

- Jicama: a crispy root vegetable

- Leche: milk

- Limon: lemon/lime

- Masa: a dough made from ground corn which is made into tortillas and tamales

- Masa harina: dried masa flour

- Mariscos: shellfish

- Naranja: orange

- Nopales: cactus

- Ostinoes: mussels

- Pan: bread

- Pan dulce: sweet bread

- Papas: potatoes

- Pescado: fish

- Pepitas: roasted pumpkin seeds

- Picante: spicy hot

- Pimienta: black pepper

- Plantain: a hard, green banana, always eaten cooked

- Pollo: chicken

- Puerco: pork

- Pulpo: octopus

- Pupusa: a round, thin bread with a variety of fillings, commonly found in street vendor stalls

- Queso: cheese

- Queso fresco: a crumbly cheese with slightly acidic flavour

- Relleno: “filled with a mixture” – generally you’ll see this term used in dishes like “tortillas stuffed with meat”

- Res: beef

- Vetabel: beet

- Zanahoria: carrot