Loving You is Easy
Mintel’s research recently announced that Mexican cuisine took over Italian as America’s favorite international cuisine. I can say with full confidence that everyone loves Mexican food. It’s a fact. If anyone says they do not, they’re clearly lying.
The cuisine is diverse and the flavors are unbelievable. Not only that, Mexican cuisine has grown in social media conversations by 33% year-over-year (Tastewise). Everyone has that moment where Mexican food has changed their lives – I’m referring to you, White Duck Taco Shop and Mazunte. If you haven’t yet, you still haven’t found the right place. I am excited to say that Mexican sauces are going to get even tastier. More authentic flavors are making their way onto menus and into at-home cooking, which is something we should all be excited about.
Authenticity and Regionality in Mexican Sauces
Consumers are looking for more authentic Mexican flavors. Calling out a specific region is increasingly more popular as consumers are diving deeper into all Mexican food has to offer. They are also looking for more dishes from the cuisine. Items like tingas, elote, churros, and many more are growing on menus. Going forward we should expect to see more regional specialties and even more Mexican dishes. For sauces, we should expect to see moles, mojo, and more salsa verde to name just a few.
Mexican sauces are also rooted in spice. Consumers are clamoring for more spice. They cannot get enough chili peppers, jalapenos, or habaneros. Ghost peppers are even being incorporated into items for those who just can’t get enough. So, not only is Mexican food trending upward on its own, but its taste profiles are in a hot spot of consumer preferences, pun intended.
I love to get the opportunity to lean on our culinary team. When asked, Carrie Born, our Culinary Group Leader for North America had this to say about Mexican sauces:
In the Mexican sauce space there is clear movement towards authenticity. No longer is it enough for Americans to have just taco seasoning. The space is now being filled with sauces for carnitas tacos or barbacoa tacos. And, the recipes for these sauces tend to be pretty authentic. I see this space continuing to evolve into regional cuisines with sauces like mole negro or mole rojo unique to the Oaxcan region. I also think less known authentic dishes, traditional herbs, and new peppers may make way to Americans in sauces.Carrie Born, Culinary Group Leader, Givaudan North America
I don’t know how it can get more authentic than salsa verde. The sauce has been traced back all the way to the Aztecs. No salsa verde is the same, but they all start with tomatillos and green chili peppers. Personally, I like mine to come with a nice kick of garlic too. It’s likely most readers have experienced a salsa verde, but they’ll be seeing more of it than they ever have before. Salsa verde has grown 34% over the past four years according to Datassential and it is expected to continue on a similar path.
Salsa verde is also versatile. While I’ve stated its quite authentic, it can be applied to almost any dish to help make it delicious. Mazunte, my favorite local Cincinnati place, does a great job incorporating salsa verde into their menu. They stick to the authentic side of things. My fiance prefers their enchiladas with their salsa verde. I prefer their memelitas which come topped with a great salsa verde with a nice kick of garlic.
Mole may not be quite as well known as salsa verde, but I’m guessing most will know it soon enough. There are a number of varieties of mole sauce (seven or eight varieties are usually agreed upon), and unfortunately, I’ve only been able to try a few. The one that always comes to mind to me is mole negro. The thick savory-sweet sauce is an experience all of its own. I highly recommend trying it at your favorite Mexican place when you can’t decide what to order. It’s a great change of pace and almost assuredly different from any other sauce you’ve had recently.
Due to the number of varieties of the sauce, it can be hard to see which one consumers are starting to dig into. Regardless, mole grew 6% on menus over the past four years and is expected to grow another 7% over the next four years (Datassential). Mole’s versatility is something that will add to its growth. No matter what flavor profile you’re looking for, mole has you covered. Looking for something creamy and unique? Try mole blanco. Want something spicy and savory? Try mole amarillo.
Mojo’s origins are not necessarily Mexican at all, but Latin. The sauce goes back to the Canary Islands but later spread to Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Latin America. Mojo is a citrus-based sauce that usually includes garlic, oil, cumin, and other spices. The tangy sauce is a great way to liven up any piece of meat. Publix has even started to feature it as a rotisserie chicken flavor, clearly signaling that mojo is for the masses.
Mojo has also seen fast growth on menus, up 15% over the past four years according to Datassential. Its growth is expected to slow a little bit, but I’m still planning on seeing mojo in new places. For those looking for a kick of citrus, and a little bit of heat, this is your sauce.
Future Food Comas
I for one am excited to see each of these authentic Mexican sauces making their way to the US. If Mazunte or White Duck want to add mole or mojo to their menu permanently, I’ll be pretty happy. I know that I have plenty of new and flavorful options to look forward to on future trips for takeout. The only way I know how to eat Mexican food is with way too much chips and queso, so I’m ready for my next food coma to include some salsa verde, mole, or mojo. Now I just need to find someone willing to roll me home afterwards.