Pre-Columbian Feast

January 31, 2010 at 11:15 pm | Posted in Cooking | Leave a comment

I had long since volunteered to run the feast at Ice Weasel, our barony’s smallest event. My intention had been to do an Indian theme, but during a barony meeting everyone was joking around about the fact that since this was the fifth Ice Weasel we should call it “Cinco de Weasel.” Somehow this turned into me arranging an Aztec-themed feast. After doing a little research, I decided to expand it to food from the Inca, Aztec, and Maya.

Not surprisingly, finding documentation for the food in Pre-Columbian Central and South America was a bit difficult. My primary resource was Early American Cuisine by Sophie D. Coe. What little pre-Columbian writing survived the conquistadors does not include any recipes, so I was unable to redact recipes in the traditional sense. Instead, I have looked at spices, techniques, and common ingredients to try to reconstruct dishes as best I can.

While there aren’t any documents from the original cultures, the conquistadors and missionaries had quite a bit to say about the local foods they encountered. A lot of this is plainly incorrect, but even when they were wildly wrong about what they were talking about, we can still make guesses. For instance, several men wrote about eating pheasant. Since that is not a species native to the Americas, they were clearly incorrect, but we can still take away that some sort of fowl was being served. Many of the Spaniards left detailed information about the food that they were served, including spices.

I have tried to create a menu that is not too “out there” – no iguana or stuffed dog or seaweed, despite the fact that these were all very common foodstuffs. I also struggled to balance the amount of corn I was serving. Modern American palates are not accustomed to having a staple food item that is eaten with literally everything. I was very excited about being able to serve potatoes and chocolate! Here is the planned menu:

First remove: Tortillas with sauces: Guacamole, salsa(s), chilli/meat sauce, maybe also popcorn

Second remove: “Venison” (beef) Soup, quinoa balls, pineapple atolli (corn gruel)

Third remove: Tamales (bean and pork(guinea pig)) with roasted peppers

Fourth remove: Roasted turkey, roasted sweet potatoes in honey, and cooked spinach

Dessert remove: fruit, amaranth in sweet syrup, hot chocolate

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