Seasonal Cooking with Rita Calvert~The Local Cook
Some believed the world would end Friday — on 12/21/12 — which is when an important phase on the ancient calendar of the Mayan people terminated. The end of the winter solstice marks the end of a 394-year period on the calendar.
Mayans didn’t buy it, nor did most of us … turns out that the apocalypse was more exciting to the media (actually created by our current society) than the real facts. The Mayans were simply marking the ending of an era and the heralding of a new one.
Rather than dwelling on the Doom and Gloom-End of the World Dinner, I decided to focus on the positive feast based on foods of the Maya. Their celebratory feasts carried on for 3 days. Begin the new era with a full stomach of earthy foods. Here are some suggestions for one big dinner using some of the most traditional Mayan cuisine ingredients.
The diet of the ancient Maya was based on maize, beans, chile peppers and squash – foods still eaten in the modern Maya area. The Maya also harvested other plants such as manioc, avocado, papaya, guava, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, palms, cactus fruits, mint, persimmon, jicama, custard apple and cacao fruits and seeds. This diet was supplemented by fishing, hunting, and domestication of food animals such as turkeys, peccaries, and dogs. They raised bees in hollowed-out logs for honey, and harvested eggs from turkeys and iguanas. Deer, wild turkey, duck, armadillo, quail, tapir, monkeys, and iguana were some types of animals hunted by the Ancient Maya. Oysters, turtles, and sea birds were also eaten.
The Mayans were on to something because these versatile ingredients influence much of today’s modern fare.
Tomatoes and avocados are two of my favorite foods especially when combined in spicy guacamole. Get your fill with this starter.
- 3 avocados, halved, seeded and peeled
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 1/2 cup green onions, minced
- 2 tomatoes, diced
- 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- Sea salt and pepper to taste
- finely chopped fresh jalapeño
In a large bowl, add avocado and mash with a fork. Add in the remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Add jalapeño to taste.
Serve immediately with tortilla chips.
New Era Pozole Stew
This dish is full of Mayan flavors using the Maize, squash and beans known as the Three Sisters in Mayan cuisine. The three ingredients combine in this recipe for a heavenly New Era meal.
Pozole is a spicy corn stew that is known as the ceremonial dish for celebrating life’s blessings.
Pozole is lime-treated corn kernels, called “hominy” in many parts of the country. It comes in many different forms with the most popular being canned.
- 1 large dried ancho chile, stemmed, seeded, and torn into pieces
- 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper flakes (adjust to your liking)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 3/4 cup boiling water
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash
- 2 cups green cabbage, cut into ribbons
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 32 ounces chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 can black beans (18-19 ounces), rinsed and drained
- 1 can red kidney beans (18-19 ounces), rinsed and drained
- 1 can white hominy (about 20 ounces), rinsed and drained
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
Place the dried chile and hot pepper flakes into a blender along with the boiling water. Wait 10 minutes and then add the onion, garlic, and cumin and blend until smooth.
In a medium size soup pot heat the oil over medium-high heat. When hot add the onion, sweet potatoes, green cabbage and garlic. Cook, tossing, for about five minutes. Add the vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Lower heat and cook for about 20 minutes or until sweet potatoes are tender.
Add the black and kidney beans, the hominy, lime juice and the ancho chile mixture. Add water to desired consistency. Adjust seasonings.