mexico food history

Mexican gastronomy has its origin in the pre-Hispanic period. At this time, a series of dishes were created that were based on three main ingredients: corn, beans and chili. These were complemented with herbs, meat from small animals, chocolate, poultry and fish, among others.

Unfortunately, and according to the Great Book of Mexican Cuisine, there are no purely pre-Hispanic recipes. This is due to the lack of sources or codices that have recorded them and the gastronomic miscegenation that occurred during La Colonia. Therefore, the dishes that we know today have existed thanks to the preservation made by the indigenous and mestizo communities.

The culinary miscegenation

As we have seen, it was impossible for the ancestral recipes to remain intact due to various factors. One of them was the lack of records. Despite the fact that the Mexicas kept libraries that stored all the knowledge they acquired, they were burned by the conquerors. It was done in order to annihilate any trace of heresy. However, it was ignored that among the books or codices there were not only myths but also a record on medicinal plants, astronomy, architecture and perhaps recipe books.

Another cause was the culinary miscegenation. While we cannot ignore the violence with which some peoples were subjected, neither can we deny the cultural exchanges between Americans and Westerners. In fact, the colonizers contributed: animal fats, wheat, flour, beef and chicken, dairy products such as milk and cheese, lettuce, etc. The colonizers, in turn, had diversified their gastronomy with ingredients from other places. An example is basil. This plant is native to India and was sacred to Lakshmi, goddess of good luck.

As an example of culinary miscegenation we have the cochinita pibil. This stew was traditionally made with pheasant, wild boar or venison meat. And, unlike now, it was only tasted every November 2 during soul food, known as Hanal Pixan.

The chinampa, ancestral practice of agriculture

In addition to the ingredients that were exported from Mexico and America to the world, the agricultural techniques also stand out. One of them is precisely the chinampa.

The chinampa was an agricultural method of Mexica origin. This consisted of creating an artificial cultivation system on water. To create one, ahuejote stakes were used to create a solid, floating base. They then placed water lilies and other floating plants on the stakes. Subsequently, a layer of mud was placed and lastly the seeds of plants or vegetables. In this way, they stayed hydrated and grew naturally.