The Pueblos are ancient Native Americans who lived in the Southwestern United States. They were one of the four main cultures that conquered the region before European contact. Did you ever wonder what did the Pueblos eat back in 1200 B.C.?
Who Are the Pueblos?
Pueblo means “village’ in Spanish. The name was given to them as the Spanish saw their intricate, multi-story homes made from local materials like adobe and stone. These were exceptional Native American residences that were erected as apartments. The roofs were flat and had the entrance with no doors or windows. These apartments were built on top of mesas, making it easier for them to see enemies from afar, and prepare and defend against an attack.
The Pueblos were also called ‘Anasazi’ which means ‘Ancient Enemy’ in Navajo. Pueblo people didn’t like the term and is less used nowadays to describe them.
The Pueblos Were Great Farmers
The Ancestral Pueblo people relied on farming to bear them in their more inactive lifestyle. A sun watcher was elected for each community, making everyone in the village aware of when to harvest the crops and plant seeds. Pueblo Indians produced plenty of the food they ate, including sunflower seeds, pumpkins, squash, and beans, and planted wild rice in their terraced fields.
What did the Pueblo eat as their main crop? It was corn or maize. Corn consisted of eighty percent of their dietary regimen. Along with beans and squash, the trio was called the ‘three sisters. They were survival essentials because they addressed many of the people’s dietary needs. Corn and beans provided complete protein when eaten together.
Corn was also significant in the Pueblo people’s life and spiritual rituals. After their harvest during fall, they roasted corn and made corn on the cob. Their bread was also made from corn flour. Their piki bread was made from blue corn. They combined fine ground cornmeal, water, and ash for the batter, cooking the bread on a hot stone to make it crispy.
The Pueblo people also had roots, greens, salt, maple syrup, and honey. They collected nuts like acorns, hickory nuts, cashews, pine nuts, and peanuts. They also gathered fruits like persimmons, wild plums, yucca, strawberries, and cranberries. They ate amaranth and rice grass, also goosefoot seeds either raw or as a spice for their recipes.
The Pueblos Were Good Hunters
Puebloan food sources were scarce because of the hot and dry area where they lived. That’s why they gathered as much as possible and planted simple crops that were easy to grow.
The tribe was generally vegetarian, but the Pueblos did eat meat when it was obtainable. They hunted small game like squirrels, gophers, and rabbits. They also raised tamed wildlife like turkey and sheep, and hunted for big game like mountain lions, deer, and antelopes.
They used a lot of dried chili peppers to flavor their food. They used whatever’s grown, gathered, and made stews to stretch their food supply as far as possible.
What did the Pueblos eat?
This was one of the most common Pueblo Indian dishes. Served around festivities, posole was a Pueblo staple stew. It was made from hominy, spices, and pork. Recipes varied from every Pueblo, but a good hominy always characterized a good posole; it was posole’s central ingredient.
Red/Green Chili Stew
Chili Stews were always present on the Pueblo tribe’s dining table almost every day. They threw mutton, lamb, pork, or whatever meat was available into the pot. Vegetables on hand also made their way into the stew. Whether made of green or red chili, these stews represented the Pueblos’ desire to extend small sums of food as far as they could.
Pork was the most common meat used by Pueblo Indians. In Carne adobado, the meat was cubed and marinated in spices and chili peppers. It was then braised for several hours, making a sumptuous meal best paired with rice.
Rice pudding was an outstanding Pueblo dessert. Made from spices, dried fruit, rice, and eggs, this Pueblo rice cake was a sure hit and a famous American Southwest staple. It’s the flawless ending to an old-style pueblo meal.
The Pueblos Today
After many years, there are still 19 Pueblo tribes thriving in New Mexico today. They all have their own sovereign government. Taos, Acoma, Zuni, and Hopi are the most famous Pueblos. They all continue to uphold their tradition and culture. They are also open to welcoming visitors who would like to learn about their ceremonies, ancestors, beliefs, etc.