Mushulá & Atole de Maiz

hinking that Mushulá was a general Mayan drink, I asked a friend from Benque about it, but he never heard of the word. Thus I am convinced that it must be typical of the Mestizos that settled in Northern Belize only.

What is Mushulá? It is a very refreshing drink made with ripe plantains. No, it is not a licuado like banana shake or milk shake, but is just as refreshing. To make it simply peel a few very ripe plantains and boil for 20 minutes. Cut and remove the black seed-like parts in the center. Now mash the plantains just like you would mash beans. Add some coconut milk (not coconut water) and sweeten it either with condensed milk or sugar. Add some vanilla and there you have delicious Mushulá. It can be served at room temperature or better yet, chilled.

In the absence of sweet ripe fruits like papayas and melons and in the absence of bottled drinks like Pepsi and Coke, you can appreciate that the Mestizo mothers had to be creative in feeding nutritious beverages to their families. Mushulá is indeed a nutritious and tasty one.

Now for some Atole de Maiz or beverage made with corn. To make this one, you need some corn dough, the same dough used to make corn tortillas.

Get it at El Patio preferably. Dissolve the dough in some water while you boil some water in an open cooking pot. At boiling point add the dissolved corn, some coconut milk or if you prefer condense`] milk. Add sugar to taste. Atole is served hot or warm. When you chill it, it thickens. If you want to refine your atole, you pass it through a sieve or "colador."

Twenty five years ago, the atole was a popular beverage. When the husband had a hangover (tenia una crudita), the loving wife would prepare an atole for her "pobre esposo." It was also the popular beverage for nursing mothers. As soon as the mother had delivered her baby, the mother or mother-in-law would prepare atole for her. According to them this filled the breasts of the nursing mother with nutritious and abundant breast milk. Nothing, absolutely nothing was better than the atole de maiz. If she kept drinking atole the breasts keep producing milk for one to two years. Also because there were no contraceptive pills in the market (at least not in San Pedro) breast feeding the baby meant no menstruations. Therefore this was an excellent manner of conception control and family planning.

Most mothers today seem to breast-feed for a couple of months. Most mothers in the past fed for a year or more. Was it the atole that did this wonderful trick to complement mother nature? Whatever the explanation, you will agree with me that both the atole and the mushulá prove that necessity is indeed the mother of invention.

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