Foods of Mexico

Indigenous peoples in Mexico ate and still use the maguey slug or agave worm. Spaniards who landed on the shores of Cuba were introduced to cassava bread, a dish made with cassava (also known as manioc and tapioca) that contains cyanide and is poisonous until the roots are either boiled and mashed, or grated and mashed. Then the pulp was shaped and baked and could be dried for later use. Reportedly the Spanish enjoyed this bread and the French were even more enthusiastic, often using cassava bread instead of wheat bread. Cassava (also known as manioc or tapioca), although starchy and high in calories, is not particularly nutritious.

Conquistadores reported their surprise at the neat and orderly town of Tenochtitlan and not least among their surprises was the food offered. Meals consisted of tortillas made from boiled dried maize then rolled into a paste and formed into a thin cake and cooked, then served with tomato or pepper sauce and beans. Tortillas could be used as a wrap for tomatoes, fish, or meat then rolled in a corn husk and steamed. Another meal might consist of maize porridge and tamales, garnished with frogs, tadpoles, newts, white worms, or meat of iguanas, turkeys or dogs.

Taken from Devon A. Mihesuah, Recovering Our Ancestors’ Gardens: Indigenous Recipes and Guide to Diet and Fitness (University of Nebraska Press, 2005)