The Country Food Similarity Index is a statistically-based attempt to quantify how similar the food in one country is relative to another. By comparing the weight of raw food ingredients used in each country, a score is assigned that reflects the degree of similarity between the respective countries. The methodology is exactly the same for each country studied.
The Most Similar Cuisines to Mexican Food
Mexican cuisine is incredibly diverse and varies from region to region. Its food reflects a variety of European and indigenous Mesoamerican culinary traditions. It is no surprise that four of the five countries with the most similar food to Mexico are also Spanish-speaking. Since corn originated in this region, it continues to be the region’s staple. It is used to make a variety of foods including tortillas, tamales, and esquites.
- Guatemala borders Mexico to its south. The culture of both countries was greatly influenced by Mayan civilization. Pepián, one of the most notable Guatemalan dishes, is similar to Pipián in Mexican cuisine. Both are made of tomatillo, tomato, and chili peppers, then thickened with gourd seeds. In addition, tamales, dough made from corn in steamed husks, are also commonly eaten in both countries.
- El Salvador is another Spanish-speaking country further to the south of Guatemala. Pupusas, the national dish of El Salvador are very similar to Gorditas, except that they are open on one side. In addition, the side dish Chirimol is basically the same as Mexican pico de gallo. The dish consists of tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, cilantro, and lime.
- Honduras is yet another Central American country on this list. Both cuisines feature bold and spicy flavors, often using ingredients like chili peppers, cumin, oregano, and cilantro. Both countries eat a lot of fried eggs and refried beans. However, since Honduras has a higher percentage of people with African ancestry, it also has more culinary traditions that originated in Africa. Hondurans typically eat more tropical fruits as well.
- Venezuela is in South America, but the country’s cuisine still has many similarities with Mexico. Despite rice being a much bigger part of typical Venezuelan food, corn is the most eaten starch in both countries. Arepas are one of the most popular foods in the country. It is strikingly similar to a Mexican gordita. However, one big difference is that plantains are far more commonly eaten in Venezuela.
- South Africa is the only non-Latin American country in the top 5. However, the ingredients in South African and Mexican food are surprisingly similar. The staple food in both cuisines is corn, since both countries grow a lot of it. Corn was introduced to South Africa by Europeans and it quickly became popular due to its versatility and its ability to grow in a variety of climates and soil types. However, in South Africa it is used to make pap, a type of porridge. In addition, chicken is by far the most widely consumed meat in these nations. Chili peppers are common in their sauces as well. They are used to make peri-peri in South Africa and salsa in Mexico.
The Least Similar Cuisines to Mexican Food
Four of the five countries with the least similar food to Mexico are located in Africa. Moreover, these countries are not as developed as Mexico, so they are more heavily dependent on starches in their diet. Corn based foods, eggs, and chicken are not nearly as widely consumed in these countries as they are in Mexico.
- Democratic Republic of Congo is a country in the middle of Africa. Cassava is the dominant staple food in the tropical country, while the most commonly eaten meat is fish. Furthermore, in contrast to Mexico, their diet has little meat or dairy in it. The country is also more heavily reliant on plantains as a food source.
- Niger is a landlocked country in the Sahel region of Africa with an extremely hot and dry climate. Its two most common staple foods are millet and sorghum. Some traditional dishes in Niger include tuwo, a porridge made from millet or sorghum, and dambunama, a dish made from millet, vegetables, and meat.
- South Sudan is located to the northeast of the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is another country where cassava is the staple food, however the country eats a lot of sorghum, like Niger. Porridge is one of the most popular dishes in the country.
- Solomon Islands is a tropical archipelago located in the Pacific Ocean. Most of its people live near the coast, so seafood is common in the country’s cuisine, unlike in Mexico. Sweet potatoes, yams, and coconuts are all common ingredients in the food there.
- Sierra Leone is a predominately Muslim country in West Africa. The majority of their diet is made up of rice and cassava products. Like Congo, most of the meat eaten in this country is fish, since the country is located along the Atlantic Coast.
Mexico’s Most Common Food Ingredients
Protein: Chicken, Egg
Fruit: Orange, Banana
Vegetable: Tomato, Chili pepper
Starch: Corn, Wheat
Primarily based on 2020 data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N.