In 14th century, the Aztecs, who migrated south from the deserts of New Mexico, had vastly occupied lands in the valley of Mexico and an area rich in lakes, which were filled with many kinds of living resources such as fowls, fish, frogs, water insects, and algae. The newcomers, Mexica people adopted their new home with enthusiasm. They dominated, thrived over this vast land, and established a strong and powerful empire that once became one of the most renowned empires in world history.
The lives of the Aztec people were filled with celebrations. They feasted on abundant foods such as white tortillas, grains of maize, turkey eggs, turkeys, and all kinds of fruit. Fruits they often enjoy are sweet potatoes, sweet manioc, avocados, and come cacti.
The Aztec Staple
The Aztecs relied heavily on maize or corn for sustenance like all other Mesoamerican civilizations before. Corn was their staple food that without it, a meal was not a meal. . The Aztecs consumed maize in several forms, usually in the form of tortillas. In fact, the making of tortilla was one of the basic lessons imparted by mothers to their daughters. Tortilla, a round, flat, toasted bread, has been a significant part of the Aztec cuisine as well as most Mesoamerican cuisines since the Classical period until today.
Until now, Mexico is still one of the top maize cultivating countries in the world.
Dogs, turkeys, and the Muscovy duck were the only common domesticated animals in ancient Mesoamerica as well as in the Aztec empire. All these animals were used as food source, but comprise only a small part of the Aztec diet. However, Archaeologists have also uncovered some bones of fish, deer, rabbit, iguana, dog, turkey and other animals in the remnants of the Aztec households, but these were only in very few concentrations.
Chocolate is one of the greatest gifts given by Mexico to the world. The Aztecs flinched from chocolate at first, but after the Indians set the example, they found it good, especially when turned into a thick chocolate drink. Montezuma, one of the Aztec emperors, was served thousands of jars of foaming chocolate, and this became a prized delicacy to him.
Since then, cocoa beans have been a prized food and treasure to the empire. The beans were not just used as food by the Aztecs, but as a form of regular money as well for trading. The Aztecs prepared chocolate drink a lot different from the hot chocolate prepared in the present world. The Aztecs made the drink sugarless but with spices, peppers and corn meal. This hot drink can still be found today in Mexico and is known as atole.
One of the most renowned Aztec foods in history and today is guacamole, a dip made from mashed ripe avocados, tomatoes, and several spices. The Aztecs were known as the earliest cultivators of avocados and creators of this ever-famous dip. In fact, the name guacamole originated from two words of their own Nahuatl language. These two words are āhuacatl which literally means avocado and molli means sauce. Today, guacamole is often paired with another known Aztec delicacy, tortillas. Perhaps the traditional duo of guacamole and tortillas began way back in the Aztec period.
Other Aztec Crops and Vegetables
The Aztec's basic diet and cuisine mainly comprised of vegetables and fruits , supplemented by a few game animals. As their principal source of protein, the Aztecs relied on many species of beans. The Aztec diet also featured diverse species of chilies, with a wide range of flavors and hotness. Chilies are their alternative source of essential vitamins A and C.
They also serve as condiments and stimulants. Squashes and calabashes were the third significant crop to the Aztecs. Huautli (amaranth), another very high protein grain, was rank as second most important crop next to maize. The Aztecs cultivated several varieties of onions, as well as red tomatoes, xictomatl, and green tomatoes (tomatl). Sweet potatoes (camotli) were also important root crops in the Aztec cuisine.