But let's not get sad and let's talk today about one "traditional ingredient" and one of the "main things" that come to mind whenever someone talks about "Mexican food" in the USA.... TACO SHELLS
Where do hard shells come from? Are they really Mexican? THEY ARE FAR FROM IT!
A "taco" is just one of the MANY traditional dishes in Mexico, it is composed of a CORN tortilla (and in the North of Mexico it is also common to be made of a wheat -flour- tortilla), this tortilla is folded or rolled around a filling (any filling) and there you go! You have a TACO!
Recipes for "tacos" in the USA are ... weird to me, when I grew up making "tacos on my own" everyday with anything they put in front of me to eat, if I had refried beans and tortillas then I made my "tacos de frijoles" (bean taco), and it was the same if there was meat, cheese, chicken, eggs, or basically ANYTHING (even tomato or chili peppers) ... Any ingredient can be made into a "taco" if it is put in a tortilla, that is why I also find it confusing when people talk about things like "taco salad" or "taco mix" because I can't understand how that can be related to a taco in any way! (Now that I know what a taco salad or taco mix are, I agree it can taste good, but I like to explain to people that if they want something really Mexican, those things are not going to help them get it) ... A taco is eaten without utensils, just with your bare hands and it is commonly accompanied by salsa, cilantro, tomatoes, onions or lettuce.
What am I saying? That taco shells, taco mix or taco salads are bad? That nobody should ever eat in Taco Bell? No, I am not saying that, even when it's not my favorite type of food, everyone is free to like or dislike whatever they prefer, but I am just saying that if you are really interested in enjoying real Mexican food, none of those things I mentioned are Mexican, not even close, not at all.
It seems that the "hard-shell, U-shaped taco" was first described in a cookbook in Santa Fe, New Mexico in 1949 and they started being massively produced when some devices were invented to hold the tortillas in U-shape while being deep fried in New York in 1950. Most of my life I lived in the Northeast of Mexico, right in the border with Texas, and even there (where food can be "influenced" in some places by American Fast Food chains) I had NEVER seen a hard taco shell. I first saw one when I came to live USA, there is no such thing in Mexico. And personally, I really dislike their flavor.
I encourage you to get real Mexican corn tortillas, if you've ever been in a "Tortilleria" in Mexico, you know what I am talking about! But, you can also make your own, it is REALLY SIMPLE! You can buy INSTANT CORN MASA MIX (you see? even the name tells you it is easy, I am not asking you to buy corn and grind it! LOL!) I use the brand "MASECA" and just follow the instructions of the package, you will see what I am talking about! You will also need a tortilla press like this one:
Note: Picture taken from http://gozamos.com (This picture is not mine)
This type of press is not expensive at all! And you will make the most perfect round tortillas with it! everyone will love them! And you will know why REAL TACOS are so much better!