We’re Men of Maize

Hgh-scale Tortilleria in La Antigua Guatemala

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.”

© 2009 – 2013, Rudy Giron. All rights reserved.

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  • Do you own the book Hombres de Maiz? Can I borrow it??? 😉

    • @Laura, yes I own the Hombres the Maiz book, but only in Spanish. 🙁

  • norm kwallek

    Very cool cooker, are they heating with wood or charcoal?

    • @Norm, I believe they use wood branches from the Gravileas tree.

  • Hmm, some chicken soup with those tortillas seem appealing, 😉 Ah, her expression is great!!!!

    • @Arturo, she was very friendly and even took a little extra time on putting the tortillas down so I could take a good shot. 😉

      • Lys Barrios

        Great picture, let me tell you that this woman is most amazing person in my life. she is my mom. Thank you for this, I appreciate it

        • @Lys, thanks so much for sharing this with us. How did you find out that a picture of your Mom was published in AntiguaDailyPhoto?

  • MO

    Tortillas with frijoles
    Tortillas with guacamol
    Tortillas with sal y limon
    Tortillas with chile
    Tortillas with queso crema
    Tortillas with chirmol
    Tortillas with mantequilla
    Tortillas with pollo
    Tortillas with carne
    Tortillas with chicharron
    Tortillas with anything……
    Yummy yummy yummy…….

    • @MO, you pretty much covered the basic meals that accompany tortillas, especially with the anything…

  • I have always marveled at the dexterity of the tortilleras; I cannot make a neat round tortilla to save my life!

    • @Jenn, same here, I could not make a single tortilla even if try really hard. 🙁

  • Eric

    @Rudy & Jenn – I am in the same boat. Tried to make tortillas at home – twice – and I think the resulting disaster… well, I learned my lesson. Leave it to the experts !
    @MO – Amen, brother. No soy un hijo de maiz, but I learned very quickly that one cannot have enough tortillas… or have them with too many other things …
    Rudy, you are making me look at flights to La Aurora again, with pix like these. Volcanes ? Increible. Mercados ? Muy interesante. But tortillas ? I think I need a plane ticket … ahoramismo !

  • @RudyGirón, I am glad she did, it is indeed a great shot!!! Oh, and, well, I can make tortillas, but it does take me a while, I am so out of practice, ;O), that’s because of the camara, hahahaha!!!!!

  • This is a great site. Love the photos.

  • Love the pic, love tortillas but i can’t make tortillas either.

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  • Elí Orozco

    Rudy, just one thing: Corn can genetically be traced, and has been, to its place of origin, which of course is The Highlands of Guatemala.

    • Actually, maize can be traced back to the valleys near Tehuacán, Puebla, according to the most recent findings published in 1491.