Thursday, August 27, 2009

10 Mayan foods that changed the world's eating habits

Excerpts from an 8/27/09 article in the Alanet News by Christine Delsol

Nobody gives the Maya is credit for their agricultural wizardry. When the Spanish carried Mayan food back to Europe and to the Caribbean, Asia and Africa, it changed the world’s eating habits. Here are ten Mayan foods it would be hard to live without:

1. Avocado (aguacate)
From its Mayan origins in southern Mexico, it was prized as an aphrodisiac ( later the Aztecs would keep their daughters indoors during harvest season). In the 19th century, growers had to mount a PR campaign to persuade the public that eating avocados did not equate to licentiousness.

2. Papaya
The papaya originated in the tropics of southern Mexico and Central America. After the Spanish carried seeds to Panama and the Dominican Republic, cultivation spread throughout South and Central America, the Caribbean, Europe, the Pacific Islands, India and parts of Africa. It has became naturalized in many areas and still grows wild along Mexican roadsides.

3. Squash (calabaza, calabacita)
Squash predates corn and beans by several thousand years; Maya people domesticated several varieties of squash as early as 8000 B.C. Oils from these seeds were the main source of dietary fat before the Spanish introduced beef and pork.

Others Mayan additions to our eating include:

4. Chocolate
5. Vanilla

6. Corn
7. Chiles
8. Tomatoes
9. Black beans

10. Sweet potato