Who Harvested Maize First: The Aztecs or the Mayans?

[¡Ask a Mexican!] And what are the three milks of pastel de tres leches?

DEAR MEXICAN: This is going to sound absolutely and totally Caucasian. Lately, we have been trying to lighten the mood around the office with delicate bits of international confections. With all that's going on in the world, who needs one more worry? With that said, we are struck by yet another issue to ponder. Just the other day at my birthday celebration, I insisted on a lilac-toned bomb cake from a pricey bakery in Monterey. In addition to this, some of my Mexican sisters brought something called tres leches.

To try to begin to describe the subtle richness and the coolness upon the tongue, I left my bomb cake standing alone like a wall flower at a seventh-grade dance. To this end, we are still arguing about what in the heck the THIRD leche is in the tres leches? We have cow as leche number uno, goat as leche number dos . . . however, the mind spins with the possibilities of the tres leches?

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DEAR GABACHA: I'm glad you enjoyed pastel de tres leches, but unless your Mexi amigas bought a gourmet version, you're wrong on all counts. Tres leches cake is traditionally made with evaporated milk, condensed milk and a layer of cream on top. Usually, Mexicans use goat milk to make cajeta, the mestizo cousin of caramel. You can drizzle that on the pastel de tres leches. Wash it down with horchata, and you'll have the sweetest combo to come out of Mexico since Salma Hayek's breasts.

DEAR MEXICAN: While trying to instill some history into my girlfriend, who is also Mexican (well, I was born acá, y ella, allá), I told her that maize was first harvested by Aztecs, whereas she states it was the Mayans who kept la yunta andando for corn first. Could you please enlighten her by telling that she's wrong?

Mexican Light

DEAR WAB: Drop the Aztec love, cabrón! Everyone knows they were just a parasite empire that absorbed attributes from the many cultures and people who preceded them, from the Olmecs to Toltecs to Mayans to whoever the hell built Teotihuacán. And the fact is both of you are wrong. Trying to determine who domesticated corn is as impossible as finding a Mexican-owned truck without a sticker of a bull, a hometown or stick figures depicting a family, but the great book America's First Cuisines notes scientists in 1964 found evidence of domestication and harvesting in the Tehuacan valley (around the states of Puebla and Oaxaca) dating back to 5,000 B.C.—more than 2,000 years before aliens built the pyramids in Egypt as guides or whatever the latest Coast to Coast A.M. explanation is. The domestication of maize (and the miracle that is nixtamalization, which makes masa possible) is Mexico's greatest gift to the world, greater even than Salma Hayek's boobs of glory.

CRAZY NEWS! You're favorite columna is being turned into a play! ¡Ask a Mexican! will get its first reading this Friday at the prestigious off-Broadway Atlantic Theater Co. as part of its annual Latino Mixfest. A special gracias to my writing partner, Atlantic's artistic leadership associate Jaime Castaneda (a Tejano, but that's okay), for wanting to do this. For my Puebla York cabrones interested in attending the reading: It's free, but you must RSVP—more info at atlantictheater.org. For everyone else—start bugging your local theater company to stage the play come next year!

GOOD MEXICAN OF THE WEEK! Since this is my annual food edición, a shout-out to all the original loncheros—those taco-truck pioneers across the country who fought the law and racist ordinances to ensure we can all enjoy a late-night taco. All you luxe lonchera folks slinging "gourmet" food: Pay respects to your elders when you park next to them at the commissary. Yes, gentle readers: Roach coaches and "gourmet" food trucks spend their nights together. Imagine that!

This column appeared in print as "Special Comida Edition."

 
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7 comments
The Cauc-Asian
The Cauc-Asian

Dear Mexican, although I strongly disagree with most of your political views, I still enjoy your columna. Here's my opportunity to bash your liberal bias by pointing out a typo of yours that is very obvious. You wrote: "Crazy News! You're favorite columna..." It's typical of liberals to use "your" and "you're" interchangeably. Please write more responsibly. The Cauc-Asian.

Sean
Sean

This is a ridiculous subject. Why no comment on Santa Ana Councilwoman Claudia Alvarez 'a remark comparing East Fourth Street landlord Irv Chase, who is Jewish, to Adolf Hitler and accusing him of “ethnic cleansing.” If it isn't anti-Mexican, it isn't racism.

Bill T.
Bill T.

While we're at it, where's the discussion about Irene, Octomom, best place for brunch, the Toll Road, ..., why limit ourselves to just a couple subjects when there is so much to talk about? Or we could look up the story on that topic. Ummmmmmmm, Nah.

It took me literally about 5 seconds to find the story about council woman Alvarez's rant and Gustavo's raking of her over the coals. Cherry pick your subjects, misinterpret his statements and voila', Gustavo's a racist. Disclaimer: I know your mind is made up, you're not about to let yourself become confused by facts, my only purpose to post is to show that your opinion is not unanimous (look it up, it's in most dictionaries).

Sean
Sean

I'm sure it's not unanimous. But I think it wrong that in Latino-oriented blog didn't bring up the subject of a Latin politican being racist. If that politician was white, they'd be all over it. The two Latin-based blogs I read, this one and the one in the Register, neither one mentioned it. This one blogs about maize, and the other blogs about this one being turned into a play. To me, this shows a double-standard and a lack of journalistic ethics.

909Jeff
909Jeff

Sean,

Bill did take Gustavo’s chorizo out of his mouth long enough to speak the truth. This is not the right forum for that and Gustavo kind of commented on that topic... albeit not as vociferously as he would have if a Jewish councilmember had something similar about a Mexican, but none the less he did call her a pendeja.

Bill T.
Bill T.

Oops, repeated myself, I try to edit down my comments. The point about your intransigence does stand, though.

Bill T.
Bill T.

Missed the point, did you? OK, I'll put it in simple terms so you can follow:1. It's totally irrelevant. He's being asked a question about Maize. He gave an answer that is supported by actual research. What other subjects, in addition to Maize and the Alvarez story, do you think should also have been covered? Where do you stop?2. The Alvarez story is well-covered elsewhere (I even provided the citation). In the story Gustavo pointed out what a pendeja she was for making the remark. This link illustrates that your rhetorical question, "... Why no comment on ... Alvarez's remark ...", is a misleading argument. I would even say even a reverse strawman, provided for your opposition to knock down, TYVM.

I know you won't be swayed by actual substantiated argument, My main purpose is to let you, and others, know that there are people who don't have abuelitos Mexicanos that don't buy into your bankrupt philosophy.

 
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