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Modern Mexican food still evokes the techniques and staple ingredients used by the Aztecs and Mayans: corn continues to play an invaluable central role, as do chiles, beans, and versatile fruits and vegetables like tomatillos, avocados, and nopales.

From cattle-raising country in northern Mexico to the southern shores of Oaxaca, these are the key ingredients you’ll find in any well-stocked Mexican kitchen.