Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Three Stone Fire

I've just returned from Guatemala, where corn is still the grain of choice. When Columbus bumped into the new world, corn was being grown from the gulf of the St. Lawrence as far south as Lake Titicaca on the border between Peru and Bolivia. The Europeans had never seen anything like this astonishing grain. Corn was life, religion, food and the basis of Mayan myth.
Many Mayas in Guatemala still cook with "Three Stone Fires." Basically, this is three stones supporting a steel plate with a fire underneath. The smoke from the fire billows into the kitchen or living area and exits where it can. In one of the slides you can see the smoke pouring from the eaves of the house. To say this is bad for one's health is an understatement.

Masons On A Mission, a group I work with, goes to Guatemala each year to build energy efficient, ventilated, wood-fired cook stoves for the Mayas. Tortillas are cooked right on the top, along with beans and rice.The video shows shows a stove being constructed, the Mayas and the happy stove builders. Let us know if you're interested in joining next year's group.

Note: Although my tortilla making skills have improved somewhat, the Maya baker was careful not to include my tortillas in her basket. They simply didn't make the cut. Maybe next year.