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The Atole

El Atole

The “atole” is well known in Mexico and in many other parts of the world because it is a prehistoric age beverage.

Throughout the Mexican history, we have learned, from our ancestors their way of life, their customs, how they dressed, the job they had and the type of food they ate, as time passes all of these customs have been modified and transformed. The ancient Mexican residents were characterized by being warm-hearted and hospitable with people from their same tribe and mainly with their special guests, who received traditional drinks that mean politeness and kindness. The traditional Mexican drinks were born from these feelings and were considered delicious, fresh and healthy.

The first drinks were made with corn, “maguey”, amaranth, cocoa and chia seeds. In the past, sugar did not exist therefore, there was a traditional type of sugar called “piloncillo” and in order to make it better people added some fruit, flavorings, and the smell was given with some vanilla, lemon leaves, guava leaves among others.

One of the natives’ favorite drink was the chocolate, which consisted of a mixture of cacao seed lard, water, herbs and spices, the result is a bitter drink with stimulating effect. Currently, the “atole” is a drink recognized worldwide.

Atole’s histoy
The word “atole” comes from nahuatl, its meaning is: atolli (watery) and tol (tiny); in some regions the “atole” is known only as “atol”.

The “atole” is a prehistoric beverage consumed not only in Mexico but also in Mesoamerica and the north of South America.
Atole’s original preparation was made from corn, which is the main ingredient while preparing other meals such as tortillas, tamales, among others. The traditional corn Mexican atole is made from corn dough, water, piloncillo and cinnamon.

For example, the Mexicas tribe used to drink atole prepared just by boiling the corn dough until it is thick served with cacao, chilli and some honey to make it sweet. The natives used to sell hot and cold atole, prepared in the same way, with grounded or toasted corn dough which was called “atolli”.

Additionally, native Mexican people used to drink a type of atole called “chinecuatolli”, which was prepared with nixtamal dough (corn boiled) and yellow chilli, the result was a sour atole.

The native Totonacas used to prepare different types of atole for women that breastfeed so that they would had more milk. Flavors included: sesame seed, Brazil nut, coyol palm, berry and yucca. Nowadays, people still drink these types of atoles even though they are not accepted by doctors.

The native Purepechas used to drink atoles of aguamiel and pulque (a liquid obtained from the maguey). It was part of their traditions and celebrations.

In order to stimulate sexual desire they consumed “necuatolli” made from maguey honey and green chilli.

When the Spanish arrived in our country in the prehistoric age, the traditions and customs started to change. They were accustomed to drink only tea, however when they arrived in Mexico they started to try the food and drinks that the natives consumed, those drinks included the atole and chocolate.

At first, they did not like the original atole’s flavour so they started to modify this drink by adding new ingredients like some water or milk then they stirred it in order to obtain a sparkling drink named “champurrado”.

Native people used to drink atole on special days and sometimes in their daily life. Meanwhile, Spanish people began to drink it when they were sick or as a stimulating drink. Therefore, they drank it in the mornings and after eating.

Currently, there is a big variety of atoles, and depending on the region of the country the ingredients and flavors are different as well as the name. These atoles are served in religious events like baptisms, first communions, rosaries and wakes, saint celebrations or “posadas” (celebrations done at the end of the year), among others.

Types of Atoles:
Atoles can be drunk hot or cold, sparkling, creamy or liquid and the corn can be boiled, dryed or grounded and diluted in water.

Corn or white atole: it is prepared with water and grounded corn in a clay or metal pot, it is important to stir constantly until it is thick. It can be drunk like that or it can be used as the base to prepare other types of atole.

Fruit atole: it is prepared by adding some fruit to the white atole, it may be guava, strawberry, pineapple, etc.

Sweeteners for the atole: sugar “piloncillo” or honey.

Chileatoles: these are salty and spicy atoles, they can be consumed as a main dish for breakfast, dinner or at parties.

Atole recipe

Ingredients:
1 liter of water
150 grams of corn dough
50 grams of “piloncillo”
2 cinnamon sticks

Preparation:
Dissolve the dough in a container with water.
Boil some water with the cinnamon sticks and piloncillo.
Add the mixture of water and diluted dough.
Stir constantly until the mixture is thick.

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