Guatemalan Cuisine: Caldo de Pata
Today is theme day for the City Daily Photo community around the world; 840 daily city web sites thus far. For the first theme day of the year, there are 151 cities participating with their best photo of 2008. Click here to view thumbnails for all participants
I don’t remember if subscribe to participate in the theme day. However, I decided to participate not with the best photo of 2008, which I really don’t know which one to pick anyway, but rather with an emblematic image for the best photo of the year for La Antigua Guatemala Daily Photo. Since I published so many photos of the Guatemalan Cuisine in 2008, I decided to begin the year with a photo very popular dish: Caldo de Pata or Mondongo.
Caldos (stocks or stews) are among the most popular dishes from the Guatemalan cuisine. I believe most of caldos have pre-Columbian origins and caldos are quite possibly some of the best remaining samples of the Mayan cuisine (see the aside about The Maya below).
Today’s photo of Caldo de Pata or Mondongo as it is also known in other parts of Latin America was taken at the 7 Caldos Restaurant. This Mondongo was the best I had ever had in my life and I have had this dish in Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, and the U.S.A.
The caldo de patas stew or stock is made with muscles and bones from the lower legs of either pork or cow, as well as belly, head and other such entrails along with potatos, carrots, güisquil (chayote), elote (maize/corn) and ayote or chilacayote (squash and/or sweet squash). The caldo de patas can be blanco or rojo (white or red); the red takes its color from tomatoes and chiles primarily.
As you can see, the list of ingredients, except for the meats, are crops from the milpa, a sort of a maize field, but something considerably more complex (… continue reading the definition of Milpa by Charles C. Mann). Milpa is one of the most successful human inventions ever created. Milpa was the agriculture mechanism that allowed the Maya to reach its density and complexity.
For those who don’t know, The Maya were the greatest and most complex civilization in the American Continent. A quoted passage from Wikipedia:
The Maya civilization is a Mesoamerican civilization, noted for the only known fully developed written language of the pre-Columbian Americas, as well as its art, architecture, and mathematical and astronomical systems. Initially established during the Preclassic period, many of these reached their apogee of development during the Classic period (c. 250 CE to 900 CE), and continued throughout the Postclassic period until the arrival of the Spanish. At its peak, it was one of the most densely populated and culturally dynamic societies in the world. (Source: Wikipedia.org)
Guatemala, of course, was the birthplace and the heart of the Maya civilization and the region with the largest remaining ruins from the Maya cities and towns. I read somewhere that there were over one million Maya people just in the region of El Petén at the time of the birth of Jesus Christ. There are less than 100,000 people living in El Petén at present.
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