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p. 34


Their principal sustenance is maize, of which they prepare various dishes and drinks; and even drunk as they do it, it serves as their food and drink. The Indian women put the maize to soak the night before in lime and water, and in the morning it is soft and half-cooked, having in the process lost the husk and nib. They next grind it on stones, and when half ground make it into great balls and loads for the use of laborers, travelers and sailors. In that shape it keeps for several months, except for souring. Of this they then take a lump and dissolve it in a vessel or gourd formed by the rind of a fruit that grows on a tree, whereby God has provided them with vessels; out of this they drink the liquor and then eat the rest, it being of excellent taste and very nourishing. From the maize that is more fully ground they take away the milk and thicken it at the fire, making a sort of curd for morning use; and this they drink hot. Upon what is left from the morning they put water for drinking through the day, since they are not accustomed to drink water alone. They also toast the maize and then grind and mix it with water into a very refreshing drink, putting into it a little Indian pepper or cacao.

Out of maize and ground cacao they make a sort of froth that is very delicious, and with which they celebrate their festivals. From the cacao they extract a grease that is much like butter, and from this together with maize, they prepare another agreeable and much esteemed drink. Still another is made from the substance of the ground maize, raw, which is also fresh and tasty. They prepare many kinds of bread, good and healthful, except that it is not good to cat when cold; so that the Indian women are kept busy with making it twice a day. They have not learned how to make fleur that can be kneaded like wheat flower, and when they do make it as one makes wheat bread, it is good for nothing. They make ragouts of vegetables and venison, and of wild and domestic fowls of which there are plenty, and of fish of which there are plenty. Thus they have good provisions, especially since they are raising Spanish pigs and fowls.

In the mornings they take their hot drink with pepper, as we have said: through the day the cold drinks and in the evening the ragouts. When they have no meat they make their sauces of pepper and vegetables. The men and women do not cat together, but eat apart, on the ground; or if there is much, with a mat for a table. They live well when they have it, and endure hunger equally well when they have not, getting along on very little. After eating they wash their hands and mouth.

Next: XXII. Painting and Tattooing of the Indians. Their Orgies, Wines and Banquets. Their Comedies, Music and Dances

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Yucatan Before and After the Conquest, by Diego de Landa, tr. William Gates, [1937]