My series on eating along the Silk Route was a spectacular failure as far as readership goes. But those of you who read it seemed to really like it. I’m sure there is something to be said for writing for an audience, but this is a blog. And to my mind, blogs can be a bit like public masturbation.
So, on to my next series failure. I’m sure we will learn a lot. I’ve been feeling heavily drawn to traveling in Central and South America this year, which as inspired this next series. I hope you will all join me on this erotic romp through the guts of the Americas. I don’t plan to follow any particular route this time. Instead I’m going to take a culinary dip into may different places and different times throughout the Americas. I have plans for a guest cook – a friend from Bolivia – and possibly a discussion with my former professor who studies Indigenous trade route and traditional foods.
The new world is a very big and very diverse area with a wealth of variety and interesting stuff. Those of you who believe that the only food served south of the Mexican/American boarder are tacos, burritos, rice and beans; be prepared. In native American thinking food is not commodity, it is a sacred chalice that carries the essence of life. If you have been paying attention you will already know that rice is not indigenous to the Americas. Corn was the staple grain for thousands of years. You will also know that the best thing about indigenous American food stuffs is the deep mythology and charming stories that are woven throughout it’s history.
Corn Mother. According to the Penobscot Indians, the Corn Mother was also the first mother of the people. Their creation myth says that after people began to fill the earth, they became so good at hunting that they killed most of the animals. The first mother of all the people cried because she had nothing to feed her children. When her husband asked what he could do, she told him to kill her and have her sons drag her body by its silky hair until her flesh was scraped from her bones. After burying her bones, they should return in seven months, when there would be food for the people. When the sons returned, they found corn plants with tassels like silken hair. Their mother’s flesh had become the tender fruit of the corn.
Another Corn Mother goddess is Iyatiku, who appears in legends of the Keresan people, a Pueblo * group of the American Southwest. In the Keresan emergence story, Iyatiku leads human beings on a journey from underground up to the earth’s surface. To provide food for them, she plants bits of her heart in fields to the north, west, south, and east. Later the pieces of Iyatiku’s heart grow into fields of corn. – mythencyclopedia.com
beauty before me, beauty behind me, beauty to the right of me, beauty to the left of me, beauty above me, beauty below me, I’m on the pollen path – Navaho Prayer
- 1 1/2 c. (255.5 kg) blue cornmeal
- 2 c. (473 ml.) water, boiling
- 3/4 c. (74.5 g.) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 1/2 tsp. (1.5 g.) white pepper, ground
- 1/2 tsp. (1.5 g.)nutmeg, ground
- cooking spray
- In a medium bowl, sift the flour, nutmeg and white pepper together. Set the mixture aside.
- In a large bowl, pour the boiling water over the cornmeal and stir to mix. Allow the cornmeal to rest and cool for 5 minutes.
- After 5 minutes, use well-floured hands to work the sifted flour mixture in to the cornmeal. Once the flour is fully incorporated, remove the dough to a well-floured work surface.
- Please note that this dough is very sticky – you will need to replenish the flour on your work surface and hands regularly as you handle it.
- Knead the dough for 1-2 minutes, replenishing the flour on your hands and work surface as needed and noted above.
- Pinch off 8 balls of dough and sprinkle the top of each with flour.
- Meanwhile, heat a griddle over medium-high heat. Once the griddle is hot and, again, using well-floured hands, pat one dough ball into a 3” patty. Place the patty on the griddle, grease the back of a spatula liberally and immediately use it to flatten the tortilla. You will want to press outwards from the center of the tortilla, quickly spreading it out to double its original 3” size. Toast the tortilla for at least 2 minutes on either side. The tortilla is done when dark brown spots begin to appear on its surface. These tortillas are best enjoyed right off the griddle, but you may store them in an air-tight container and reheat for later usage.