The Maya people stretched from Guatemala through Southern Mexico and lived during 6th Century. The Maya people were excellent farmers, potters and left behind hieroglyph writing. They were also worshiped time and the sun. The Mayan people built huge stone temples and plazas. Many of these ruins are still partially standing today. Maya ruin sites have plazas, palaces, temples and pyramids, as well as courts for playing ritual ball games. The Maya were religious, and worshiped various gods related to nature, including the gods of the sun, the moon, rain and corn. The Maya society had kings, or “kuhul ajaw” (holy lords), who claimed to be sent by the gods. They performed elaborate religious ceremonies and rituals that included human torture and sacrifice. ( History Channel 2014)
The Mayan people created complex math and astronomy systems. Heir people were also known the growth and use of corn in traditional foods and ceremonies. Astronomy and sustainable agriculture still guide the daily activities life in the Maya world. Many rituals and ceremonies are still practiced today. Even though the Mayan civilization disappeared, their rich culture is present in their architecture, foods, music and ceremonies. (2010 The National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI)
“The Maya based time on understanding cycles of the Sun across the sky, the phases of the Moon, the gestational period of human beings, and the growing cycle of corn.” They made offerings of corn every 260 days to welcome a new cycle of time in the Mayan calendar. Traditional farmers in the Yucatán conduct ceremonies and offerings throughout corn’s growing season, which are in tune with the solar calendar. In Maya tradition, time is related to natural cycles of the Earth and the sky. The Mayan people believe time is sacred and worthy of respect. Most of what is known about the Maya comes from what remains of their architecture and art, including stone carvings and inscriptions on their buildings and monuments. (National Geographic, 2014)
Traditional Mayan Foods
Cacao ( coco) is native to the lands of the Maya. The Mayan people were the first to take the seeds of this fruit and roast them to make hot chocolate. The ancient Maya didn’t add sugar or milk. Instead they took their chocolate as a ceremonial elixir and a savory mood enhancer.
Cacao was a sacred gift of the gods, and cacao beans were used as money. When the Spanish invaded Maya lands in the 1500s, they adopted the beverage, adding sugar and milk to make it sweet and creamy. (www.ecomuseodelcacao.com).
Avocados and Guacamole
The avocado is loved for its rich taste and creamy texture and was a treasured crop of the ancient Maya. Combined it with chili’s, garlic, cilantro, onions, and lime, avocados become guacamole. There are many varieties of avocado that are much bigger than what we are used to seeing in the United States.
This Mayan dish is slow-cooked pork combined with sour orange juice and vinegar. The orange juice refreshes the salted pork and gives it a tangy flavor. The dish is topped with onions, coriander and a bit of sugar.
Many Mexican restaurants in the United states have Poc Chuc on their menu. Our own local restaurant Julios in Montpelier, Vermont has this dish on their menu.
Southern Mexicans add some spice to their food and their beer. Amichelada infuses cerveza with lime, coarse salt, pepper, and shots of Worcestershire or Tabasco sauce, served in a chilled, salt-rimmed glass. Some versions also include soy sauce or Maggi seasoning. My mom tried one of these traditional drinks when we were in Mexico but did not care for the spicy salted rim. Today all of the beer served comes with a fresh lime. If the spices sound a bit much, try a simple version, which blends just lime juice and salt with a light beer, like Corona or Tecate. It’s so popular that Miller and Budweiser have created their own versions of michelada (