More than an ingredient found in lunch or dinner foods, corn has long been a historical and major crop in Mexican agriculture. Beginning with the Aztec people, leaders required there were at least 30 different meals a day to choose from that included corn. While not as many food choices for the more common people, Aztecs still ate a diet that was mostly corn and bean based. By discovering remnants from their culture, anthropologists have learned after these early people harvested maize; it was ground on a metate (stone) and mixed with water to form a usable type of cornmeal that could be cooked into a hearty soup (atole) or stored for future use.
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Corn usage was popular with other early Mexican people. In addition to being a staple in Aztec diets, Mayan people frequently consumed corn and served it with other raised crops like beans and chili peppers. As cooking techniques and food preparation methods evolved, Mesoamericans eventually expanded their usage of corn from a gruel type of soup to cooked tortillas.
More than just a food crop, early Mexicans viewed corn’s life cycle as a reminder of human life and death. In fact, Mayan people took corn’s role so seriously, they actually had a maize god. Believing the god was responsible for the sun and all living things, they were also under the impression that the first humans were formed from ground cornmeal dough. The Popol Vuh, an early book on Mayan beliefs further reinforces this belief and compares the world to a large cornfield.
Today, there are hundreds of varieties of corn grown ranging from blue to red, yellow, black and white kernelled. Still a staple in Mexican diets, in many Mexican areas corn is milled and cooked using stone devices. Important to other Mexican people like the Mayans located in the Chiapas region, corn is still viewed as a religious type of object. In fact these modern day people believe harming or abusing any form of corn (wasting corn, throwing away unharvested useable corn, destroying cornfields) is disrespectful towards their ancestors and can lead to a soulless existence. The Important Role of Corn in Mexican Life!