It is impossible to think of the Guatemalan, Mexican and Mesoamerican diet without maize. From the Popul Vuh (Popol Wuj in modern spelling), the Mayan equivalent of the Bible, which states that humans were literally created from maize, to Miguel Ángel Asturias‘ novel Hombres de maíz (Men of Maize) which is one of the best novels to understand Mesoamerica and its people. Guatemala and Mexico share the birth place of maize, which was and is the most important crop in human history. The richest diversity of maize can be found in Mesoamerica!
Many of the dishes of the Guatemalan cuisine are based on the milpa crops. The term milpa refers normally to a maize field, but it is so much more. In a milpa field there a dozen crops at once: maize, avocados, multiple kinds of squash, chiles (hot pepper chilli), beans, tomatoes, tomatillos, camotes (sweet potatoes), jicama (a tuber also known as sengkwang, yam bean, singkamas, Mexican turnip), amaranth (also called pigweeds) and mucuma (a tropical legume). “Milpa crops are nutritionally and environmentally complementary.” said Charles C. Mann in his book 1491. H. Garrison Wilkes, a maize researcher at University of Massachusetts in Boston is quoted in the same book, “The milpa is one of the most successful human inventions ever created.”