Amaranth Experience in Mexico City

In the Southern part of Mexico City, up in the mountains South of the UNESCO world heritage site of Xochimilco, we can find one of the most astonish views of Mexico City: the Amaranth fields, around 1 hour 20 minutes from the historic city center.

On arriving at the foot hills South of Xochimilco, we can walk up the hills with amazing views all around, untill we reach the first amaranth fields.

Amaranth is native to Mexico and Central America. In pre-Hispanic times, amaranth was cultivated by the Aztec and their tributary communities in a quantity very similar to maize. Known to the Aztecs as huāuhtli, amaranth is thought to have represented up to 80% of their energy consumption before the Spanish conquest. Another important use of amaranth throughout Mesoamerica was in ritual drinks and foods. To this day, amaranth grains are toasted much like popcorn and mixed with honey, molasses, or chocolate to make a treat called alegría, meaning “joy” in Spanish.

Diego Durán described the festivities for the Aztec god Huitzilopochtli. The Aztec month of Panquetzaliztli (7 December to 26 December) was dedicated to Huitzilopochtli. People decorated their homes and trees with paper flags; ritual races, processions, dances, songs and prayers. This was one of the more important Aztec festivals, and the people prepared for the whole month. They fasted or ate very little; a statue of the god was made out of amaranth seeds and honey, and at the end of the month, it was cut into small pieces so everybody could eat a piece of the god. After the Spanish conquest, cultivation of amaranth was outlawed, while some of the festivities were subsumed into the Christmas celebration.

After a beaufiul walk of around 2 hours through the amarant, flower and agricultural fields, we can see how amaranta is produced, on frying the seeds on an open fire. Afterwards, we can drive to an amarant workshop, where we can see the process of making different amarant sweets and optionally taste this Mexican delicatessen. Then we drive on to our final stop: the only craft beer in the world based on amaranth. Here again we can see how is produced, and optionally try a fresh craftbeer based on amarant, either Porter, Golden Ale or Stout.

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