Warm and pleasantly spicy, this authentic fare is a delicious way to enjoy a real taste of the cuisine.

The burrito-enchilada-taco combo platter many Americans consider Mexican food bears little resemblance to the diverse cuisine enjoyed south of the border. If you've traveled through Mexico, you've probably noticed that what locals eat in the mercados and at roadside taquerias is rarely doused with red sauce and smothered in melted cheese. It's more likely to be tender pieces of stewed meat, seafood, or chicken with fresh vegetables in a fragrant, spicy broth served in a huge bowl and accompanied by fresh tortillas or crusty bread.

In Mexico, soups and stews are enjoyed any time of day or night, including breakfast. They can be quite homey, as in the pot roast-like Cocido brimming with potatoes, carrots, and chayote squash, or the comforting Sopa de Albóndigas, a hearty vegetable soup dotted with meatballs. Mexican soups are also festive; a large pot of posole is often served during parties and Christmas holidays, while moles are frequently on the menu at special celebrations.

Fortunately, we are beginning to get a better taste of true Mexican cuisine. Thanks to wider availability (at supermarkets and Latin specialty markets) of ingredients used in Mexican cooking, you can enjoy the deep, complex flavors of this food at home.