What did the Aztecs eat when Cortés arrived in Mexico | The State


According to legend, upon arrival Cuts for the first time to Mexico-Tenochtitlán (in the year 1519) was received by Moctezuma II. The last aztec king offered the Spaniard a drink of chocolate flavored with vanilla and other spices such as chili.


The xocolatl, the drink made with cocoa, was appreciated as restorative to give strength and awaken the sexual appetite, treat fatigue, increase the weight of the malnourished, stimulate the nervous system of the listless, exhausted or weak, improve digestion and stimulate the kidneys, as explained in the journal Science and Man from the Veracruzana University.

Simultaneously to chocolate, in pre-Hispanic times the fresh fruit or herb water, seasoned with chia, was the most common liquid.

There were also other drinks such as atole, tepache or the pulque. The pulque was from exclusive use of the Aztec elite, and was also reserved for ceremonies and rituals, for mothers that they will meet breastfeeding and the seniors. To those who were to be slaughtered in the Huitzilopochtli temple they were allowed to consume it until they became drunk.


In the stories of Bernal Diaz del Castillo points to a banquet with emperor Montezuma, where tortillas that were filled with fish, snails, escamoles (ant roe) nopales, among other stews.

Pozole with human carme

According to the historian Rodrigo Llanes Castro, in Book XII of the Florentine Codex where the Spanish conquest is described there are gastronomic references, among them anthropophagy, when the Totonacs (in Veracruz) offered eat individuals sacrificed to the conquerors, since they thought they were divine beings and according to their beliefs the gods fed on the blood and energy of humanity.

It is also said that Moctezuma Xocoyotzin he ate cuts of youngsters. According to Fray Bernardino de Sahagún, author of the General History of Things in New Spain, the Pozole was prepared with the meat of defeated warriors during ceremonies in honor of the gods.

The Spanish people they were scandalized and after the Conquest, They substituted pork for the human meat of the pozole.

Up to 25 stews

“Up to 25 stews in little portions they were served to ruler Moctezuma II, during the meal, including duck and edible herbs typical of the Basin of Mexico ”, said Llanes Castro.

Each of the dishes served to said tlatoani, were placed on a laborer of mud with coal for keep them warm, as narrated in the Letters of Relationship and True History of the conquest of New Spain, written by Hernán Cortés and Bernal Díaz del Castillo, respectively.

Shower and breakfast in the morning

Men and women bathed at least once a day, before breakfast and before dinner.

Once groomed and dressed, the nobles ate the first meal of the day, consisting of Freshly made corn tortillas, with some stuffing like fish, and a chocolate gourd; all served in containers made of the precious red and black Cholula pottery, which the Aztec elite liked so much, publishes National Geographic.

The rest of the population He ate his first meal until the second hour of the day was announced from the temple, around nine in the morning.

Lunch time

According to the chronicler Diego Durán, “when it was midday o’clock, the temple ministers they played the snails, signaling that they could all eat“.

The workers more humble they drank the atole and they ate tortillas with beans and other fillings that they took from homeOthers preferred to go to one of the restaurants in the market area, where, according to Hernán Cortés, you could buy food and drink. Those who remained in the ceremonial center were brought food from the palace kitchens.

Cortés describes a Mexican market

In Letters of relationship, which Hernán Cortés wrote to King Carlos I of Spain, the moment when the conquerors met the Tlatelolco market where was fruits, vegetables, white meats and “bread from the land” (as the tortilla and tamale were called).

“The Spanish enlisted the quelites, capulines (which they name as cherries of the earth), spirulina Y tunas (of which they say: they are fruits of the rainy season that they call prickly pear) ”, says historian Rodrigo Llanes.

In the diet of the ancient Mexicans what the land gave predominated, tomatoes, corn, chili peppers, avocado, chia, amaranth, cocoa, beans, quintoniles, spices as the vanilla, to mention part of the vast wealth. The insects they were considered a source of vitamins.

There were already tacos, tamales, pozole, variety of sauces, chilaquiles, amaranth breads, atole and fermented drinks. They ate meat from turkey, fish, pheasant, venison and field rabbit. Pigs, cows, sheep, and goats were brought to Aztec land by Europeans.

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