What People Always Get Wrong About Mexican Food, According To Chef Marcela Valladolid - Exclusive

Chef Marcela Valladolid describes herself as "a classically trained chef, whose purpose in life is to show the true culture, food, and traditions of Mexico," so it's safe to say she takes the cuisine of her native land pretty seriously. Valladolid began her career working in her aunt's cooking school in Baja, Mexico; It was there that she realized her passion for cooking and desire to learn more. In the years since, through her multiple cookbooks, years spent hosting the Food Network program Mexican Made Easy, and work with chefs both amateur and acclaimed, one of Valladolid's main goals has been to impress on others the true diversity of authentic Mexican food.

When we asked the chef what people get wrong about Mexican food most often, she essentially said (albeit incredibly politely) that many people really don't get what true Mexican food is. The chef said people have "such a limited view in terms of what Mexican cuisine is... And it's no fault of their own, it's just what the U.S. market is exposed to."

Mexican cuisine is varied

"Mexico is one of the, actually the most, bio-diverse country in the world," says Valladolid. "So just from region to region, it's almost like experiencing a different country in terms of cuisine. And I wish people understood that, like what you get in Yucatan compared to what you get in the coast of the Pacific, over here with us in the North, versus Central Mexico with their pre-Hispanic traditions from Oaxaca and Puebla, it's just so vast."

So even calling it "Mexican food" seems like a bit of an oversimplification — it would be like using "European food" as a catch-all for everything from Italian to French to Spanish cuisines. Valladolid says people "need to do a better job of exposing the general market to better recipes, better ingredients, and give us more accurate representation [of Mexican food]."

The other big thing people get wrong about Mexican food

Chef Marcela Valladolid also has an issue when people say that all Mexican food is unhealthy. "I just posted the other day about what people wanted to see in terms of healthy Mexican cuisine. And somebody [commented]: 'The moment you ask for healthy Mexican, it's no longer traditional or accurate.' And I was like, 'You are so wrong,'" says Valladolid.

"We have some of the most beautiful ocean to table dishes that are super light and fresh, like nothing that you find here in the States. Maybe [you could find similar food] in a farmers market, but in Oaxaca they still cook with the seasons. You go to the market, nothing has a label, they're literally cooking with ingredients that came from the earth that day. [The food] is fresh and no preservatives, nothing comes from a box. So, I wish people would understand that a little more about Mexican food. Because honestly, sadly, right now people think of Mexican food as that fatty, indulgence, guilty pleasure sort of situation. And I wish people would move away from that a little bit."

You can see chef Marcela Valladolid teach pop star and actress Selena Gomez how to make tortillas from scratch on season two of Selena + Chef, streaming now on HBO Max.