Food Behaviors Among Mexicans And South Americans

People from diverse backgrounds eat different foods influenced by factors such as geographical location, religion, family values and beliefs about health. Food has become a significant cultural identity transcending from generation to generation. South America and Mexico are both predominant Spanish speakers with differing and similar food habits. The Mexican gastronomic culture values corn, chili peppers, beans and squash to form the basis of Mexican meals. Contrastingly, South America is varying food behaviors according to physically distinct regions, but its cuisine is influenced by ethnic fusion and geographic location. There are some differences and similarities between Mexican and South American foods due to various cultural values and differences in geographic location.

Mexico embodies food as a gastronomic culture expressed through the art of cooking. The Mexican cuisine originates from customary practices that associated food with their sacred rites, such as the Maya and Aztec (Kittler et al., 2016). Parties to honor gods in the pre-Hispanic culture were determined by seasonal harvests that mainly included harvested corn, beans, cactus, chili, squash and avocado, which became Mexican food’s basic ingredients. Therefore religious practices shaped the food behaviors in Mexico. Contrastingly the basic ingredients of South American cuisine include potatoes, sweet potatoes, cassava, and Adobo spice mix, complemented with fish or meat (Kittler et al., 2016). The difference between Latin America’s and Mexico’s cuisines is also influenced by their geographic locations, which favor different foods. For instance, South America’s extensive coastline dispose Latinos to eat more fish and meat compared to Mexicans. Food behaviors in Mexico originate from religious practices, whereas Latino cuisine is influenced by geographic location.

Food is crucial to family unity in Mexico, and as such, eating is regular and involves sharing among family members. Food should be served in a family environment that allows positive communication, bonding and celebration among members in Mexico (Hammons et al., 2020). Moreover, Mexicans’ traditional belief encourages them to take lunch as the biggest meal of the day. Traditionally, eating more lunch than breakfast or supper is believed to be healthy since day activities require a lot of energy. Lunch for Mexicans is taken around 2 or 3 pm and mainly includes soup, the main dish and a beverage. Similarly, South Americans value the family as the most important element of social hierarchy, but it does not affect their food behaviors. South Americans value dinner as the most important meal of the three meals they take.

The geographic proximity of both regions allowed Spanish influence to make both regions adopt new foods such as avocado, wheat, spices, herbs, garlic, and dairy products similar across all Hispanic cultures. The Spanish influenced South America and Mexicans to start domesticating animals, which caused them to include meat, chicken and dairy products in their food behaviors. However, milk is not taken as a beverage in South America but mixed in fruit-based drinks or coffee. Spanish also introduced corpus Christie festivities that led both South Americans and Mexicans to develop a culture of eating guinea pigs during the famous dish of Cuy. Hispanic cultures believed in the use of herbs in foods for medicinal, flavor and health values. Geographic and religious factors influenced similarity in Mexico’s and South America’s food behaviors

To conclude, food is an aspect of social identity influenced by factors such as geographic location, religion, family values and beliefs about health. Mexican and South American cuisine differ due to religious beliefs and geographic location. However, the Spanish influence affected the food behaviors causing some similarities. Family values affect food behavior and routine among the Mexicans compared to South Americans


Hammons, A. J., Villegas, E., Olvera, N., Greder, K., Fiese, B., & Teran-Garcia, M. (2020). The evolving family mealtime: Findings from focus group interviews with hispanic mothers. JMIR Pediatrics and Parenting, 3(2), e18292.

Kittler, P. G., Sucher, K. P., & Nelms, M. (2016). Food and Culture.