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Pozole

pozole codex

The word pozole, also spelled pozolli or posole, means hominy and is the name of yet another traditional Mexican dish that predates the Spanish conquest. The name comes from the Náhuatl word tlapozonalli which means boiled or fluffy, referring to the corn, or the Cahíta word posoli which means cooked corn.

There are three typical versions. Just like the Mexican flag, there is a red, a white and a green pozole.

Pozole blanco (white) and Pozole verde (green) are often made with chicken rather than pork. The green color comes from the tomatillo salsa added and the red from the chile salsa used.

The soup is garnished with chopped lettuce, onion, cabbage, oregano, radish, avocado, cheese, salsa, chile powder, sour cream and a squirt of lime. Typically these are left out for each diner to add as he or she desires. Instead of tortillas, tostadas are served with this soup.

After you’ve tried this delicious soup, it’s no wonder that the Aztec served pozole only for special occasions, a tradition that continues to this day. (See Christmas Eve, Las Posadas)

The Aztec typically used the meat from the tepezcuintle (a large rodent) and cacahuazintle (large grained white corn) to make pozole.

However, there was also an extra special version made from the meat of human sacrifices.

canibal pozole

This ceremonial pozole was carefully prepared, cooked and shared among participants as part of the holy ritual. The diners were typically the highest level priests and the emperor. Commoners were prohibited this sacred version of pozole. There was a highly symbolic significance to this meal. It was a representation of the duality of life, beginning (the Aztec believed themselves to be the people of the corn) and end (death as the final product). It was considered a holy communion ritual, allowing the those that partook to experience a connection with the gods.

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One of these high holy days that called for the special pozole was the festival Ecalcoaliztli, the meal of Ecatl (meaning cooked corn) in honor of Quetzalcoatl.

Apparently, human meat tasted enough like pork that when pigs were introduced in the diet by the Spaniards, it became the meat of choice for pozole. As there was no ceremony involved, pozole was then available for everyone to eat.

pozole

Although I prefer pozole blanco, my husband loves the pozole rojo. For a time, we sold pozole on Saturdays. (See Failing at your own business–Pozole) My sister-in-law T makes her pozole with pig feet.

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So how do you make pozole, using pork or chicken rather than human mean, of course?

The corn is prepared in the same fashion as the tortilla and tamal masa. My husband often uses red corn rather than white in his pozole, but the procedure is the same.

The chiles are opened and deseeded, boiled until soft (about 30 minutes), then blended with garlic and salt. My husband sometimes adds a little bread or flour to thicken it.  Strain the chile mixture, discarding the solid part.

Brown the pork. Sautee garlic and onion pieces. Add the pork, garlic and onion to a chicken broth and water mixture. Add oregano, a whole garlic, bay leaf, salt and the strained chile. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook about 3 hours. Add the hominy and simmer until the pork falls apart, about another hour. Remove the bay leaf and whole garlic. If the pozole is too thick, add a little more water or broth.

Garnish as desired.

pozole maruchan

Don’t treat someone like pozole who treats you like instant noodles.

And to finish off, how’s this Mexican saying? “No trates como pozole a quien te trata como maruchan.”  Don’t treat someone better than they treat you.

The Write Tribe Festival of Words #5

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