Tuesday, April 04, 2017

this little piggy had roast beef

As Darrel and Christy's time in Mexico draws down, we have been trying to eat at some of their favorite restaurants. (There are several where they will never eat again. But that is for another story.)

One of the first places I took them (and Mom) was the pozole place near my house. So near, that if you could walk through the wall in Christy's bedroom, you would be in the restaurant owner's house.

"Restaurant" may be an adjective too grand for the place. It is a house where the front has been dedicated to selling pozole. Three tables. A few chairs.

But her pozole is the best I have eaten in Mexico. I say that advisedly. Pozole is one of those foods like potato salad and lasagna where even the criteria for "best" are highly disputed. For my money, though, it is best.

I am not certain why we have not eaten there more than twice. Probably because, in the northern tourist season, there are a lot of choices on offer. In a couple of weeks, that will no longer be true.

All foods have stories associated with their origins, and pozole is no exception. The hominy meat stew we know as pozole was a favorite of the Aztec elite. Not simply because it was a tasty meal, but because of its religious significance.

The Aztecs, like most Mesoamerican cultures, believed the gods formed humans from maize. But, the Aztecs added an additional culinary treat.

The cult of Huitzilopochtli demanded human sacrifices to honor their tempermental god. Those chosen for that honor were usually captured enemy warriors. After the hearts were cut from the living captives, the body would first be tossed down the steps of the temple.

But the honor did not end there. The bodies of the warriors were cut up, cooked in a broth with hominy, and then consumed only by the Aztec elite. The theological theory was that the spirit of the dead warrior would revitalize the eater.

And thus was pozole born.

The hands of warriors no longer adorn contemporary pozole. It is usually pork. (The Pacific Islanders refer to human flesh as "long pork" for good reason.) Or chicken.

There is a butcher about three blocks from my house whose sign is an apt commentary on how the various roles in making pozole can be reversed, as only Mexican humor can.

I can feel a short story coming on. A mix of my pozole restaurant -- and a little Sweeney Todd.   

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