Mexican cuisine is very diverse, full of colours, flavours, scents and designs. You can’t say you’ve been to Mexico if you’ve never tried enchiladas de mole, red chilaquiles, tamales de rajas, some real tacos, tamales, tlacoyos, esquites, huaraches (not to be confused with the footwear of the same name), mole de olla, and… pozole.
Pozole is a traditional soup in this country, made with cacahuazintle corn kernel, chili, various vegetables like lettuce, radish and onion and flavoured with meat like beef, chicken or most commonly pork. It”s quite popular in patriotic holidays like Independence Day (that’s on September 16th, not Cinco de Mayo) or the anniversary of the Mexican Revolution on November the 20th, when families get together to eat a hearty dose of pozole served in clay bowls accompanied with tostadas with sour cream. Cooking it is quite an art and eating it, a privilege. Pozole is a prehispanic dish and back then only the emperor could eat it. What you’re about to read is not a legend but a true story, though it’s so creepy you wouldn’t believe it.
Fray Bernardino of Sahagún relates in his book “General History of the Things of New Spain” that our traditional soup was originally made with human meat. Yes, you read correctly: human meat.
During spring, Aztecs would celebrate a party in honour of their god Xipe Tótec (The Flayed Lord) so he would be generous and give them a bountiful harvest. Part of the ritual for this celebration included making a serving of pozole using the meat of a prisoner of war. The Spaniards, horrified at such an act of cannibalism did all they could to eradicate such a custom and belief, forcing upon the native inhabitants the Christian faith by giving them catechism lessons.
In time the human flesh was replaced with Xoloitzcuintle dog meat, a breed of dog native to Mexican lands which has been hunted almost to the point of extinction, making it an endangered species. So, is Xoloitzcuintle meat similar in taste to human meat? Well, guess we’ll never find out. This situation forced people to once again change the main ingredient and now it’s cooked with pork, chicken of beef or even, in some states, with shrimp.
With such a creepy origin you might not want to try it anymore, but it’s a dish as famous for its origins as for its flavour so don’t miss out on a chance to give it a taste. After all, it was a delicacy worthy of emperors.