Amaranth is so revered in Mexico plant that in honor of him even arrange folk festivals. This writes the Mexican edition México desconocido. The festival is unusually bright, memorable, attracting not only locals, but also numerous tourists.
Not far from the extinct volcano Cerro Teguitli, there is the town of Tuleguacco, whose name in translation from the language of the ancient Nahuatl people means “place around the reeds”. The first mention of the town in this part of modern Mexico dates back to the distant 1181 – it was then that the Indians founded a settlement here.
Every year in Tulegualko a large-scale Amaranth festival and Olive Fair are held. There is no fixed date for the holiday – it can be organized both at the end of January and in the first days of February.
How is Amaranth’s holiday held in Tuleguchco
Literally in the morning, residents and guests of the city gather in the central square. Features of the colonial building of Mexican cities are such that in the center there is always a park or a square, where there is a small pergola on the dais. On one side of the square – the church or cathedral, on the other – the municipality. Mexican Alegria
Among the monuments, statues and the cathedral are two stone figures of the Virgin Mary Guadalupe and Juan Diego. That Juan Diego has long been the patron saint of local Indians. He is also considered to be his patron by peasants specializing in the cultivation of amaranth and making sweetness from it called alegria.
Another statue, towering in the center of Tulieguico, is the monk Martin de Valencia, who arrived from Spain after giving it. Rumor has it that it was he who first prepared the wondrous sweetness of their amaranth and honey. When the locals tried it, they began to dance – it was so delicious. That is why the sweetness began to be called “alegria”, which translated means joy.
In the local market, which becomes incredibly crowded during the days of the amaranth festival, one can always find many options for products made from amaranth:
- cookies and pastries;
- different soups;
- even drinks.
However, the highlight of the holiday is Alegria – these are small bars of amaranth grain and honey, with other additives (depending on the recipe). At the same time, allegria is prepared here for almost everything – and each has its own recipe, which is kept secret.
In the afternoon, people, residents of the city, tourists just walk around the fair, chatting and having fun. The apogee of the festival is on Sunday evening. At exactly 5 pm, the chime of the church bell, which calls for the Sunday service of the inhabitants of the city, is heard. After the end of the service – many activities and ceremonies in the streets of the city. Everyone can choose the entertainment to your liking. The holiday Sunday Amaranth Fair ends with folk dances and general fun. And how could it be otherwise, if the guests of the festival ate a day Alegria?
Amaranth and alegria: everything about plants and sweets
Amaranth is a herbaceous plant of the genus Amaranthus. In total, there are more than six dozen species of this plant, which in recent years has been gaining more and more admirers all over the world. Amaranth seeds
Amaranth is an annual plant. He has simple leaves, and flowers – only same-sex. They gather in clusters at the top. They are called panicles – there is no doubt a similarity. In addition to edible plants, stand out decorative species that are planted in gardens to decorate the backyard.
However, both food and ornamental species are distinguished by their visual appeal. For example, depending on the variety, the inflorescences may have different colors:
- bright red;
- golden and others.
The bright and saturated color of the inflorescences of the plant is due to the presence in them of a pigment with an interesting name – amarantine.
Interestingly, amaranth has a Mexican relative. This is a wonderful plant monitors. Many centuries ago, the locals used it in their diet. But they ate only the green part. It can be consumed both raw and cooked, stewed fried. Wasontle is a direct species of amaranth.
Amaranth in Mexico
The most common species in the vastness of Mexico is Amaranthus hipocondriacus. This variety is the most fruitful if we talk about the number of seeds. Plant height – up to two meters.
Interestingly, prior to the colonization of Mexico by the Spaniards amaranth, local Indian tribes used in their religious ceremonies. Since plants and its seeds were considered a symbol of fertility and even eternal life. Therefore, the Indians were preparing a special mixture:
- amaranth seeds;
- corn flour;
- human blood derived from sacrifices.
Figures were molded from this mixture, which were subsequently broken up and distributed to all participants of the ritual – the Indians ate the pieces of the figures. Europeans rated this ritual as a barbaric variety of the famous Christian rite called communion.
In addition, another ritual associated with amaranth was the remembrance of the dead – for this, too, the figurines were molded according to a special recipe.
But do not think that amaranth was used only in religious ceremonies. It was also an integral part of the daily diet. In particular, the seeds were prepared with beans, corn. In addition, amaranth seeds have become an ingredient for various dishes, including tortilla, atoll, tamalya and others.
Among the other ingredients of such dishes can be distinguished so-called agave honey. Why the so-called? Yes, because in fact it is not honey, but thick agave juice, which contains a huge amount of fructose, which makes the juice incredibly tasty and sweet.
It is believed that the Spanish conquistadors who came came to ban the amaranth only because it was used in religious ceremonies. This is not entirely true. Yes, in some regions of Latin America, amaranth crops were destroyed for precisely this reason. However, it should be remembered that the plant was supplanted by other crops that the colonizers brought to the continent from Europe.
How amaranth is consumed now
Now amaranth is almost completely eaten. That is due to its high nutritional value – it was established as a result of numerous, official studies. There are several ways to eat amaranth. It all depends on what part is selected for the menu.
Young stems can be eaten raw, add them to salads.
It is recommended to boil the leaves beforehand or simply to allow them to be eaten, as is done with spinach.
Seeds are suitable for a variety of products – cereals, flour, butter. Of them prepare alegria – ancient sweetness.
Features cooking alegria: common technology
As mentioned above, each family in the Mexican city has its own special allergy preparation recipes. However, in general, all follow the ancient technology:
- for eight hours, seeds are soaked in water;
- then the water just drains;
- amaranth grains are fried until they unfold like popcorn and become twice as large;
- then honey is poured into the seeds, everything is mixed up;
- Bars or other figures are made from the mixture.
For example, the skulls from the amaranth mixture are very popular – they are preparing for another Mexican holiday called the Day of the Dead.
Features of the cultivation of amaranth in Mexico
In Santiago Tulegoalco, amaranth seeds are sown either at the end of March or at the beginning of April. It all depends on weather conditions. Sowing is conducted in two stages:
- sowing seeds for seedlings;
- planting received seedlings in open ground.
Approximately 4-5 weeks before the beginning of the rainy season, on a specialized plot, which is fertilized by lake silt, create a separate bed. It is formed from a soil mixture and sludge mined from the day of the lake. It is on this bed, when the sludge dries from above, that many squares are drawn, the side of each such square is exactly seven centimeters.
In the center of each individual square, a small depression is formed, and the seed of amaranth is placed in it. The excavation is covered with lake silt.
It takes three days and a sprout appears. A month later, the seedlings are planted in open ground. This is done as follows:
- cubes with silt and sprout taken out from the garden;
- such a cube is a kind of pot for a plant;
- then transplanted into the ground, making preliminary excavations;
- soil, most often, is also used oozy;
- between sprouts leave a space of one meter.
Care for amaranth crops amaranth
Plant care includes:
- soil loosening;
- weed removal;
- eliminating insect pests.
Amaranth seeds are harvested in September-October, depending on the timing of planting and weather conditions.
The harvest process is as follows:
- amaranth cut off directly on the ground;
- cut stems are left in the field to dry for 3-5 days;
- then inflorescences spread on polyethylene and just dance on them to dislodge the seeds;
- the seeds are left in the open air so that the wind blows the husks and the remnants of dry leaves.
After that, the seeds are harvested and used in cooking, in particular – the famous alegria.
Amaranth in Mexico: the national heritage of the ancients
Mexicans with reverence treat amaranth, as a plant that fed their ancient ancestors – Maya and other tribes. Harvest of amaranth in Mexico
If for several decades, amaranth grew and was cultivated only in certain provinces, today it becomes more and more popular. And this is confirmed by the festival of allergies, to which more and more tourists come from different parts of the country. Yes, and neighboring states.
Excellent nutritional properties, unsurpassed nutritional characteristics of the plant have been confirmed as a result of numerous studies. That was another impetus to the growth of the popularization of amaranth. What, by the way, also writes on its pages México desconocido.
Who knows, maybe not so much time will pass, and large-scale festivals dedicated to amaranth will be held in Ukraine.