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Feasting with Foam: Ceremonial Drinks of Cacao, Maize, and Pataxte Cacao

  • Judith Strupp Green
Chapter

Abstract

Five hundred years ago, Spanish cleric Diego de Landa recorded that his Maya informants enjoyed foamy beverages of cacao and maize for major celebrations. Landa (1941[1566]:90) remarked on the high value the Maya placed on the buttery foam crowning these beverages. His words elicit two questions that will be considered in this analysis: How could stable foam be created on a beverage of maize gruel (atole) and chocolate, and why was the foam so highly valued? My fieldwork in the Yucatán, Tabasco, and Oaxaca provided some answers, as did replication experiments in my California kitchen using ingredients gathered while in the field. The work of previous investigators was also invaluable. But local people like Don Isaac Vásquez and his family in Oaxaca expressed a strong interest in preserving significant indigenous customs in danger of disappearance and these ethnographic sources were most important. The Canul family in Xocen, Yucatan, was equally committed to providing insight, especially Fátimo Canul Noh and his mother, Doña Jacinta Noh Pech. Not to be underestimated were the personal culinary demonstrations and help given to me by women and men whose names appear in the acknowledgments.

Keywords

Cocoa Butter Stable Foam Theobroma Cacao Slake Lime Cacao Bean 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Notes

Acknowledgments

My sincere appreciation to John E. Staller (The Field Museum) for initiating the biochemical analysis and especially for his continuous support throughout preparation, and the review process. Many thanks to W. Jeffrey Hurst (Hershey Co.) for the biochemical analysis of the calcified and non-calcified pataxte from Oaxaca. Funding from the Helen Hawkins fund of San Diego Independent Scholars is sincerely appreciated. Many thanks to the Zapotec weaver Don Isaac Vásquez García, Lila Luis Bautista, and his daughter Guadalupe Vásquez Gutiérrez who demonstrated the preparation of chocolateatole. My appreciation to José Moreno Solis, his sister Elsa Jones Moreno, Grace Johnson (Museum of Man) and Alexander Green MD. Special appreciation to Leslie Grace “McCune,” for her help with field collection, and Doña Zoyla Mendoza for sharing her culinary knowledge of Oaxacan traditional drinks. Special thanks to Ing. Mario Pérez Córdoba and Ing. Reynol Chamec Cruz and his wife, Patricia Gómez Cornelio for demonstrating the making of posol. Fátimo Canul Noh P.T.B. and Doña Jacinta Canul Pech were invaluable for providing information about Yucatec Maya cacao and maize drinks. Manuel Antonio Valenzuela, his wife Marina Riveroll Vizcaíno of Casa Cholula provided important information on cacao while in Tabasco. Sincerest appreciation to Lonnie Burstein Hewitt, Alexander Green, Ana Urizar, Falken Forshaw, Simon Martin, Michel Quenon, Barbara MacLeod, Cameron McNeil, Peggy Goldstein, Dale Novina, Sharon Edgar Greenhill, Dean Strupp, Nice Alterman, Aleada Branch, Sally Pollack, and my best critic, Willard Wells. Last but not least, Lois Strupp Floren has been my lifelong source of inspiration for writing about cuisine. Without the gracious cooperation of all of the above, this research would not have been possible.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Judith Strupp Green
    • 1
  1. 1.San Diego Museum of ManSan DiegoUSA

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