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People, Way of Life

mestizos, wheat tortillas, traditional clothes, cold cereal, chili peppers

Mexicans place a high value on family and traditional values. Although women make up an increasingly large portion of the labor force (about one-quarter in the mid-1990s), many women continue to work within the home. Children, especially in middle- and upper-income homes, typically remain at home longer than their counterparts in the United States. There are vast differences, however, in the daily lives of Mexican women depending on income level. Women in middle- and upper-income households typically have outside help with child care, cleaning, and meal preparation. Women in poor and working-class households often work both inside and outside the home, with many of them working at more than one outside job.

The typical Mexican dresses similarly to people in Europe and the United States, as fashion in Mexico is influenced by international trends. Rural families dress in more traditional clothes, and the indigenous dress worn by many Native Americans often distinguishes them from mestizos who generally wear European-style fashions.

Mexican food is unique and diverse, but income level and social class differences often affect culinary customs. The basic diet of working-class Mexicans relies heavily on corn or wheat tortillas, along with beans, chili peppers, and tomatoes. Middle- and upper-income Mexicans consume a wide array of dishes, influenced by trends in the United States and Europe. Ready-made products such as cold cereal, either produced in Mexico or imported into the country, are often found in Mexican kitchens. Mexico has one of the most highly developed carbonated beverage industries in the world, and per capita consumption of soft drinks is high. Mexican-produced beer is extremely popular in Mexico and is also sold throughout the United States. In recent years Mexico has increased the quality of its wine production, and liquors such as brandy and tequila are manufactured on a large scale.

Mexicans enjoy many of the leisure activities found in the United States, including television, movies, rock concerts, and sports. Soccer is the most popular national sport, and many Mexicans attend traditional bullfights.

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