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 Culture & Traditions

From Mexico to the World: Mexican Staple Ingredients

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COCOA (Cacahuatl). Currency, a seed that provided energy, a ritualistic element and a symbol of the human heart… cocoa meant all of these things to the ancient Mexicans. Cocoa is the seed of a tree that grows in warm, humid lands, like those of southeastern Mexico. In fact, cocoa is the heritage of the Maya, but once they were conquered by the Aztecs, the seed and its uses were integrated into the culture of all communities dominated by the Aztec empire. The root of its name is “cau” which means lightning, force andfire–words that well describes the energetic properties of this seed. The beverages that were prepared withcocoa had ritualistic overtones and were the privilege of nobles and priests.

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TOMATO (Tomatl). The ancient Mexicans grouped together various juicy, globular and edible fruits under this term, some green, some yellow and the rest; red. The latter, due to its high content of vitamin C, phosphorus and iron, were at the heart of the ancient Mexican diet. After the Spanish conquest ofTenochtitlan, the tomato plants were exported to Europe where they soon became acclimated to the climatic conditions and was readily adapted as the missing ingredient of many traditional dishes, such as Italianpasta. The uses for tomatoes have evolved to the point of being included in such famous cocktails as the “Bloody Mary” and “Clamato”. It was considered an excellent remedy for certain gastrointestinal diseases in pre-Hispanic herbal medicine.

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