Origin and myths of 3 Mexican dishes: Pozole, Burritos, and Cochinita Pibil

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Legend has it that Moctezuma ate pozole made from human flesh.

El pozole prehispánico llevaba carne... humana

In a cuisine as ancient and traditional of Mexico, each dish has a legend.

We undertook the task of investigating the origin of three emblematic dishes from the north, center, and south of the country: burritos, pozole, and cochinita pibil. 

Burrito

Burritos are known throughout much of the world and are eaten mostly in the northern part of the country. Due to its proximity to the United States, many people believe that the burrito is an invention on that side of the border, but in fact, it had its origins in Mexico, on the California border.

There are several legends surrounding the origin of the burrito and although we cannot be sure which one is correct, one of the most famous indicates that these delicate flour tortilla wraps, stuffed with beans and cheese, originated in Ciudad Juárez. During the time of the Mexican Revolution, Juan Méndez sold food on the street, and to keep the food warm, he wrapped it in giant tortillas (such as sobaqueras). The locals say that he was called a burrito because he crossed the Rio Grande on a donkey to offer his wraps.

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Cochinita Pibil

Cochinita pibil is a Mayan dish that has its origins before the arrival of the Spanish. At the Hanal Pixán party, this dish was offered to the souls of the deceased during the Day of the Dead celebrations. In the beginning, it was not made from pork, but from pheasant or venison, and it was cooked in pib — a typical earth oven in the region. Later, when the Spanish introduced the pig in the conquest, the dish evolved. The pork was cooked in the pib, marinated in achiote with orange juice, and seasoned with the spices of the region. Today, we know the cochinita pibil in tacos, panuchos, tostadas, costras, and tortas.

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Pozole

The pozole has quite an interesting history. According to legend, this delicious fortified broth was offered to the Aztec god Xipe Tótec, considered one of the gods of fertility. It is said that Moctezuma ate the pozole to honor his gods. As is well known, Aztec sacrifices were common and pozole was no exception, legend has it that a broth was made with human flesh, in order to honor their gods. Upon the arrival of the Spanish, foam stew (its name in Nahuatl) was prohibited.

Later, the tradition of pozole continued as a celebratory stew made with cacahuazintle corn, pork or chicken and chili. Now, pozole is a banner of Mexican gastronomy, traditionally eaten during national holidays.

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Source: foodandwineespanol.com

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