Eat like a Maya (from Central American rainforests)

Maize was the staple food. It was eaten in many ways: in liquid form, as pozole or a gruel; and a bread, in tortillas and tamales (see below).

They caught turkey and iguana and ate the meat roasted on a barbecue. They also ate armadillo, tapir, monkey, and the manatee. Those Maya living by the coast caught fish and shellfish.

Beekeeping and honey were important parts of their life, and they used honey to sweeten maize drinks. They made chocolate using cacao beans. It was a bitter drink in their times.

Maize was prepared by boiling or soaking it in water and then draining it, then grinding it. The paste was most commonly mixed with water to make pozole, a thin gruel, or roasted on a flat pottery stone over an open fire to make tortillas, and eaten with beans or chili.

They had many varieties of squash and pumpkin, and two varieties of beans, a red one and a black one. Frijole (beans in long green pods), chili peppers, tomatoes, yucca, and sweet potatoes were all eaten. They also ate manioc (cassava), avocados, guavas, and vanilla beans.

They used traps and spears to catch deer, many kinds of bird, wild boar (peccary), rabbits, fish, turtles, and insects. Later they used blowpipes and bows and arrows.

The corn-meal gruel called atoll was eaten with chili pepper as the first meal of the day. Pozole, a mixture of water and sour-dough carried in gourds to the fields was eaten while working the fields during the day as well as tamale (made of starchy corn dough steamed in banana leaf). Tamales were filled with meats and chilis.

In the evening most people ate a stew of meat and vegetables with squash seeds and peppers, and perhaps deer meat, fish, or the meat of wild or tame birds. For special feasts they had roasted fowl, bread, and a chocolate drink.

Every Maya household had its own kitchen garden where papaya, avocado, custard apple, sapodilla, and the breadnut tree were grown.

"Their principal diet is maize, from which they make various kinds of food and drink...The Indian women leave the maize to soak overnight in lime water so that in the morning it is soft and therefore partly prepared; in this fashion the husk and the stalk are separated from the grain. They grind it between stones, and while half ground, make large balls and loads of it to give to workmen, travellers, and sailors; and these balls last several months, only become sour [but do not go bad]. From the rest they take a lump and mix it in a bowl made from the shell of a fruit which grows on a tree and by means of which God provided them with vessels. They drink this substance and eat the rest, and it is tasty and very nutritious. From the most finely ground maize they extract a milk which they thicken over the fire to make into a kind of porridge, which they drink hot in the morning. They throw water on what is left over from the morning and drink it during the day because they are not accustomed to drink water on its own. They also toast and grind the maize and dilute it with a little pepper and cacao, which makes a most refreshing drink. From the ground maize and cacao they make a foaming drink with which they celebrate their feasts. They extract frorm cacao a grease which resembles butter, and from this and from the maize they make another drink which is both tasty and highly regarded. They make bread in a number of ways; and it is a good and healthy bread; but it is bad to eat cold so the Indian women go to pains to make it twice a day. They make stews of vegetables and the meat of deer and of wild and tame fowl, all of which may be found in large numbers.