365: Day 351 – I made Pozole

I was unable to catch up on my posts yesterday, so I continue to be one day behind. However, I had an excellent reason why I had little time to sit down and write two posts: I made Pozole!

I have heard it said that in order to truly appreciate what you have at home, you go on a journey and experience new things. On the culinary front, I have enjoyed trying so many different cuisines and never really gave Mexican food much thought. After journeying through the foods of different cultures, I am now returning to the food that I grew up with with a renewed appreciation. So I felt inspired to cook something from my culture from scratch. Specifically, I was looking to cook something more traditional and less commercialized. Tacos, Burritos, and any other saucy, cheesy thing that might be served alongside a blob of rice and beans were therefore disqualified. In other words, I wanted to cook something I’d be proud to serve to Mexican grandmothers. 

So I tried my hand at Pozole. I was pretty excited shopping for all of the ingredients from the pork shoulder to the dried chile california and maíz. The soup isn’t complicated to make, but it does take a very long time. I cooked the meat for two and a half hours, and the maíz was cooked for just as long (it takes forever to soften those kernels). I was pretty much confined to my kitchen the whole time. I don’t know how to describe the scene without sounding like I’m trying to romanticize it, but the aroma from the maíz awakened in me emotions like nostalgia, peacefulness, pride, etc. I’m really at a loss for words here. It brought back memories of my childhood, trips to Mexico, and I also somehow felt connected to ancient ancestors.

My kitchen was filled with the scents of Mesoamerica passed down through countless generations. It’s no wonder that Mexican cuisine was deemed an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. I did a little more research into other Mexican dishes, and I was quite surprised to discover that the tamal (not sure how this became “tamale” in English) originated sometime between 8000 BC and 5000 BC. Pozole also dates back to Mesoamerica, but the most interesting part about this particular dish is its controversial past. The tradition of serving it on special occasions dates back to two things: Aztecs considered maíz a sacred plant, and the meat was from humans whose hearts had been offered as a sacrifice for the gods. The practice was ended by the Spanish, and pork was found to be the closest substitute to human flesh. 

But let’s leave the macabre origins of this soup and get back to my own Pozole that was made with pork, as has been the case for several centuries now. It came out so delicious that I felt inspired to do some research into Mexican food. It looks like I won’t be catching up today and remain one day behind.