The Grind

Nahaul mother teaching daughter to use the metate

It may seem a stretch to go from Mesoamerican cooking techniques to Ebenezeer Scrooge and gender disparity, but bear with me. Since I am touring the west coast of Mexico, reading a book called Payback, and pondering the meaning of Christmas stories, this is top of mind. This will be a different kind of vacation post.

Hand grinder from Noguelas museum, kajmeister photo.


We were touring a museum in Nogueras, a small pueblo magico, aka a Mexican historical site, near Manzanillo. There was a thousand-year-old kitchen display showing the many types of foods prepared. Of course, many of the foods that Europe (and the North Americans) built their cuisines around originated from Mesoamerica, which you learn if you take a cooking class in Arizona or summat. Corn, squash, chiles, tomatoes, and I forget which exactly is the six but also coffee and chocolate are all native here, and not in Europe. What the Eurasians call “corn” really means a grain with a seed in it. So the Bible refers to corn, but they meant wheat or barley or farina. Corn i.e. maize (you all know that one) originated here and was exported east with the Great Extraction.

Santiago showing us the coffee “cherries” become seeds.
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Quick N EZ Thanksgiving

If you really want an easy turkey, buy it pre-cooked…

Photo from

…pre-rolled up, maybe even pre-extruded, like these Foster Farms beauties. Nothin’ says EZ TurKY like a bird that looks like sausage.

Photo from Foster Farms website.

If you really want an easy turkey, how about Turkey Spam? MM…Spam and Beans, Spam and Stuffing. What about Spam ‘n’ stuffing with your pre-extruded turkey roll?

There’s always a turkey spam/roll taco bar. Everybody likes a taco bar!

How about a hot fudge sundae bar? Skip the turkey and vegetables and make it easy and yourself and everyone. Everyone loves a sundae bar!!!!

It’s that time of year, when the foodie experts are full of helpful hints to make your holiday easier. And much of it isn’t going to make your life easier whatsoever. Either that or all this pre-cooking, pre-microwave, just-heat-up-at-the-last-minute by adding seven other things isn’t going to make it easier. So, here is my evaluation of all these “Easiest Thanksgiving Ever” hints that are designed to make your life harder.

Plus, at the end, I’ll share my amazing and impressive turkey flow chart, and that will make it all clear for you!

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W is for Wine

Silk Road specialties, from

I’ve heard that you need to age wine, but isn’t 8000 years a little over the top?

They have found the oldest wine vessels in history, and they are from Georgia, near the Southern Caucasus. Were they on the Silk Road? Or did grape wine come from China? How do they know it was grape wine anyway? And what else did they drink, when they didn’t have grapes? Plus, what about the apples and melons?

Today, it’s all about Silk Road Food and Drink, especially Drink.

Vitis vinifera

As it happens, I don’t drink alcohol, but please don’t hold that against me. I can certainly discuss alcohol with the best of them, especially when it involves archaeology. I was trying to look up Silk Road wine information which, the other day, told me that many people drank non-grape wines made from honey, mare’s milk, and other fermented carbohydrates. At least that’s what I remember. But there is a Silk Road winery (or more than one) and so all I could see today were ads for that wine. Feel free to do a brisk little Google search for “Silk Road Wine” on your own.

The reason that Georgia–and that means the country over in Asia near the Silk Road not the U.S. state–the reason that Georgia was trumpeting its wines is because archeologists dug up some big ol’ wine jars. These jars, called qevri or khevri, definitely date back to the Neolithic as far as 6,000–5,800 BCE. Lead researcher Patrick McGovern and the team were careful to look at dating the pottery, dating the site, and establishing the appearance of the right combination of acids that represent fermented grapes. They also found grape pollen, starch, and skin remains that sealed the deal. Eight-thousand-year-old grapes in Georgia!

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