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When the Spanish conquistadores arrived in Mexico, they were surprised to find many new and delicious foods that were completely unknown to them at that time.  Some of these foods had come to the Aztecs and Mayas through hundreds of years of communication with other tribes in Mexico and Central America.

It was through Mexico that these new and exciting foods went to Europe where they created a sensation at the banquet tables.  A food that the Spaniards enjoyed very much was an edible root, el camote (sweet potato), cultivated by the Aztecs.

This is a list of the more important and interesting foods that Mexico gave to the world:

chocolate- el chocolate                                                sweet potato- el camote

vanilla- la vainilla                                                    guava- la guayaba

peanuts- los cacahuates                                              squash- la calabaza

tomato- el tomate                                                        papaya- la papaya

corn- el maiz                                                                pineapple- la pina

chili peppers- chile                                                     century plant- el maguey

avocado- aguacate                                                    esapodilla- el zapote

nopal cactus- el nopal                

The only member of the animal kingdom which Mexico contributed to the Old World was the turkey.  By the time of the conquest, the Aztecs had many varieties of domestic turkeys.  The Aztecs were hunters and agricultors.  Wild game and fish were abundant and there was no need for domesticated fowl or livestock.

Source: Multicultural Awareness for the Classroom: The Mexicans, 1980.

                                                                                CORN  (EL MAIZ)


Corn was a sacred plant to the Indians of

pre-conquest Mexico.  The Aztecs and

the Mayas had gods of corn to whom they

dedicated elaborate rituals and ceremonies.

They also held ceremonies to the rain

and sun gods and to the the earth goddess to induce them to bestow abundant sunshine  and rain for their corn crops.

These Indians knew that corn could not grow wild

and that it had to be cultivated by man.  

Therefore, they credited its origin to the gods

and wove many legends about the origins of maiz.

The Aztecs believed that corn had been given to them

by the Plumed Serpent God, Quetzalcoatl, and they

made sacrifices to this god in gratitude and

appreciation for his gift.

Corn was the basic food for the Indiansof pre-conquest

Mexico.  The Aztecs made corn into tortillas,

tamales and other typical Mexican foods

that are still eaten today throughout Mexico.

Source: “Foods That Mexico Gave the World”