Saturday, April 5, 2014

Traditional Aztec Dietary Advice

In preparation for my first cooking class, Cooking With Native American Foods, I compiled a list of foods and herbs which comprise of some of the greatest gastronomic contributions of North and South America to the world.



In reviewing different sources of information to include in this concise list, I was reminded of an excerpt from the traditional Aztec advice given from father to son regarding the proper way of eating.

"Listen! Above all you are to be prudent in drink, in food, for many things pertain to it. You are not to eat excessively of the required food. And when you do something, when you perspire, when you work, it is necessary that you break your fast. Furthermore, the courtesy, the prudence you should show are in this wise: when you are to eat, you are not to be hasty, not to be impetuous; you are not to take excessively nor to break up your tortillas. You are not to put a large amount in your mouth; you are not to swallow it unchewed. You are not to gulp like a dog, when you are to eat food… You are to drink, eat slowly, calmly, quietly.”




I find it interesting how closely the pre-Cortesian practice of eating moderately and mindfully parallels the traditional Okinawan way of eating.  Okinawa is one of the world’s longevity hotspots, with many of it’s longtime residents living to be centenarians.  The residents of this so-called Blue Zone follow the age-old Japanese macrobiotic advice of “hara hachi bu.”  "Hara hachi bu” means to eat until you are 80 percent full.  




Just as in ancient Mexico, the Eastern practice of mindfulness and gratefulness with respect to eating demonstrates the profound importance of not only the quality of the food taken during meals, but the manner in which those meals are consumed.  Indeed, the Spanish conquerors of Mexico were astonished at the deliberate and solemn manner in which the Indians ate.  Combining such practices today along with a return to the indigenous diets of the world would yield immeasurable health benefits for our modern society.

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