M is for Maize

Native to Mesoamerica, corn was first found in Guatemala around 3,000 BC. The crop was cultivated alongside squash and bean crops in the Peten region of Guatemala.

With 25 recognized varieties of corn found around the world, Guatemala has farmed 13 varieties, of which white, black, and yellow corn being the most widely consumed.

More than just food, corn was revered among the Mayans as a sacred diety. Within mayan culture, corn is consumed in 4 ways: the corn tortilla, the tamal, atole (a warm corn drink) and pozole (a soup). There is evidence to suggest that these 4 meals were prepared in ancient times, due to the excavation of cooking tools like the comal and grinding stone.

To this day the vast majority of corn grown in Guatemala is used to make masa (dough) for tortillas and tamales.


A Guatemalan tortilla is entirely different than its Mexican brother. Tortillas in Guatemala are smoky tasting and thick while still being fluffy.

So next time you are enjoying a Guatemalan tortilla, give thanks to the industrious Maya who created such a tasty staple.


The Guatemalan Tortilla

Tortillas are a central component to eating in Guatemala. At every meal pipping hot tortillas are served alongside grilled meats or used to dip in stews or simply as an accompaniment to beans.

 Tortillas are so much more than a form of nourishment here in Guatemala. Corn is the foundation of the Mayan diet and culture. In the Mayan creation story, it is believed that man was formed from maize. The myth is such that when the gods decided to create man they tried various mediums like wood and clay; however, corn proved to be the perfect material for fashioning man.

Maize was in fact domesticated over 10,00 years ago and is now the third most popular plant in the world, supplying 20% of the world’s calories. Maize is one of the few plants that does not reseed itself and requires humans to plant it. The Maya also understood that maize must be cooked with lime (food-grade calcium hydroxide) in order to increase the plant’s nutritional value as well as make for easier digestion.

Not only are Guatemalan corn tortillas wonderfully delicious and doughy (unlike the thin Mexican tortillas) but they are often times the only food source for many rural families. It is hard to imagine a Guatemala without the necessary tortilla.